With the release of Persona 5, some players have taken issue with Atlus’ heavy handed approach to preventing spoilers. Atlus released a statement on 4/4/17 outlining a hard block of the game.
Of streaming and videos they state:
Simply put, we don’t want the experience to be spoiled for people who haven’t played the game. Our fans have waited years for the game to come out and we really want to make sure they can experience it fully as a totally new adventure.
The statement goes on to say:
Please, PLEASE do not post any specific plot points or story spoilers, and only talk about the game in broad strokes. (Good example: “The game deals with dark themes right off the bat, with a lecherous teacher and other corrupted individuals.” Bad example: “Players immediately run into trouble with the pervy teacher *spoiler*, whose actions go so far as to cause *spoiler*.”)
In addition to Atlus’ guidelines, the Share feature on the PlayStation was blocked for nearly the entire game (a few moments at the very start of the game can be captured). No screenshots. No videos. Atlus seems very concerned about the possibility that the game will be spoiled for players, especially so since Persona 5 is a single player game. I understand this to a point. However, if players seek spoilers, they’ll find them. If players want to see a game before making the decision to purchase, a common use of Twitch and YouTube, they will find a way.
Obviously, those points don’t really matter in the long-run. Just because people have always pirated games doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be illegal. Atlus has the right to impose a hard block.
The average player may not feel the impact of this decision as much as content creators. Streamers, YouTubers, and the like are not allowed to show video beyond the 7/7 in-game date. Some Twitch streamers have already defied this order (You can easily find these streamers. After all, they aren’t hiding!).
As some critics of the block have already pointed out, it is ironic that a game developer is acting in such a seemingly oppressive manner when the game itself deals with oppression as a primary theme.
I have conflicting thoughts about this. On one hand, like I said, it’s Atlus’ prerogative to make such a decision. And I do understand wanting to protect the player’s experience. Players should be able to play a game without spoilers. The flip side of this is that many spoilers can be avoided through careful use of the internet and social media. Do we really need a developer to prevent spoilers for us?
At the end of the day, the block isn’t the biggest issue in gaming right now. It’s an interesting topic, but I care more about the quality of the game. The block has done nothing to impact my perception of the game itself. I was a little bummed when I realized I couldn’t take screenshots because I am the queen of screenshots, perhaps not in terms of quality but in quantity. Seriously, I have a problem.
I don’t know what it is, but I like capturing in-game moments. I use screenshots for my writing, I sometimes share them with friends, and I occasionally revisit them just for the sake of it. Not being able to do so with Persona 5 bothers me a bit but not in a way that fundamentally impacts my playing of the game.
Admittedly, I’m a bit ignorant about what other games had or have hard blocks or partial blocks, but I am curious to know other thoughts and perspectives on this topic—and not just with Persona 5. Are such blocks problematic?