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News video games 23 February 2023, 16:58

author: Ewa Ichniowska

Crack Down on Leakers; Devs of Online Hit Go to Court

The makers of one of the biggest hits of recent years are bringing out new guns in the fight against leaks. Users in America, Spain and Russia are now also being targeted.

HoYoverse (formerly MiHoYo), developer of Genshin Impact, is once again taking legal action against leaks from upcoming game updates. The company is targeting specific individuals.

At the request of Cognosphere, the publisher of Genshin Impact, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a subpoena for any information in Twitter's possession sufficient to identify three users to the court: Merlin Impact, Genshin World and XWides.

All of the aforementioned accounts shared content from the game's upcoming updates, including character animations, skins and maps of areas not yet added to the game.

According to information reached by Axios earlier in February 2023, Cognosphere asked Twitter to remove numerous tweets of each of these users, but to no avail. Currently, only the Merlin Impact account remains accessible.

It is worth noting that the lawsuit concerned not only English-language accounts: Genshin World published in Spanish, and Xwides in Russian. This may mean that the creators of Genshin Impact are increasingly aware of the leaks problem and intend to fight it outside China as well.

A recurring problem

This is another attempt by the studio to combat leakers. In 2021, the first major leak took place: a developer version of update 1.5 hit the web, and HoYoverse promised to intensify its efforts in the legal struggle against the practice.

A few months later HoYoverse sued Chinese website Bilibili (the local equivalent of Youtube), demanding the data to identify 11 people distributing leaked versions of future builds of the game. Access to their published content was immediately restricted.

That same year, the studio went on the warpath with the website Honey Impact, a comprehensive database that also publishes leaked data. Despite a legal dispute Honey Impact's administrator is shirking responsibility. The website has not suspended operations and is still active.

Crack Down on Leakers; Devs of Online Hit Go to Court - picture #1
Source: HoYoverse

The issue quieted down somewhat in 2022, although information continued to emerge about the next patch. The bomb went off in early January 2023, when the largest amount of data to date on the Genshin update was leaked to the web about six months ahead of release. The Internet saw graphics from as-yet-unrevealed characters from the new region, Fontaine, and information about the storyline. As it turns out, this was the result of a dispute among the leakers that got out of hand.

Fighting windmills

Most topics about Fontaine on Reddit have been deleted by the administrators, which does not discourage the community interested in leaks.

Despite reports of layoffs at HoYoverse and lawsuits won by the studio in the country, some of the leakers are still active. Most leaks come from NDA-breaking HoYoverse employees in China, which are then translated and reposted by numerous Twitter and YouTube accounts. Subreddit dedicated to leaks from Genshin Impact has developed a system for judging their credibility, and each new piece of information is hotly debated. Although some players are against the leaks and condemn them as breaking the law, a vociferous part of the community considers them a necessary evil and claims that they keep the game alive and replace an official roadmap.

Nevertheless, it seems that three lawsuits are far too few to deal with the problem of not only copyright infringement, but also division among the fans

  1. Genshin Impact - official website
  2. HoYoVerse - official website
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