Last week, Kotaku senior writer Luke Plunkett sparked backlash by tweeting a historic World War II photo in defense of a colleague who leaked details about “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” amid being blacklisted by Nintendo.
“Very normal behavior” Plunkett replied to a person who wrote, “You complain about Nintendo blacklisting you, then post spoilers based on leaks? Who is being unprofessional here?”
“I am years past CARING what these people say. I am simply aghast at the fanatical fervor with which its thrown in 2023,” Plunkett added before concluding his tweets with a photo of U.S. 356th Fighter Squadron commanding officer Lt. Col James H. Howard.
In the photo, Howard sits in an aircraft emblazoned with victory markings, Japanese and Nazi Germany flags that represent confirmed kills against both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Nintendo is a Japanese company that is headquartered in Kyoto.
“For the record,” he wrote, “this is how I feel about publisher blacklists.”
The tweet has since sparked accusations of insensitivity and racism, with many social media users mocking Kotaku’s grievances against Nintendo’s decision to blacklist them.
The news outlet is facing backlash from social media users and gamers for publishing an article that reveals leaked details regarding Nintendo’s anticipated game “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.”
On May 2, the website published an article titled “Everything We’re Learning about Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom From The Leaks.”
The article, written by Zach Gach, came after he took to his personal Twitter account on April 26 to express his disappointment in Nintendo for having blacklisted Kotaku.
“It’s preview day for Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, a huge game I would love for Kotaku to be able to inform its millions of readers about first-hand. Unfortunately Nintendo still has it blacklisted from advanced coverage, a move I would argue is both unprofessional and coercive.” Gach tweeted.
Last week, Nintendo held a preview event for the upcoming game wherein many media outlets were able to attend. However, Kotaku was not invited to the event for having been blacklisted for previous coverage on Nintendo games.
Although it is unclear when or why the website was specifically blacklisted, gamers and social media users point to numerous articles published by Kotaku, which is known to post leaks and insider information, in the past that were alleged to have damaged Nintendo’s business.
One article that became notably problematic for Nintendo was “Metroid Dread Is Already Running Great On Switch Emulators,” which was published just days after the game “Metroid Dread” was released in October 2021. The article shared where and how users could access the emulators, potentially allowing readers to illegally play the game for free, which was in turn regarded as an insult by many fans.
“Hey, real quick: If you are a Nintendo lawyer or employee, just like… don’t read this. It was a silly mistake. Ignore this blog. You can go now. Okay, everyone else…” writer Zack Zwiezen starts before ending his article with, “Nintendo (like most game publishers) is really bad about maintaining access to their past games outside of the few big sellers. Thank God for pirates, emulators, modders, and hackers.”
It has since been updated to remove those lines after Zwiezen was widely criticized.
An unidentified director at Nintendo said Kotaku’s history of writing about leaks online has “hurt the company’s ability to build anticipation for their upcoming releases,” according to The Gaming Watcher.
The director also noted that while the video game company values their relationship with their fans, the leaks posted by Kotaku undermines them.