When is it okay to reveal spoilers about a videogame?

This article about spoilers is spoiler-free. Except for one pretty major one about… erm… Gex: Enter the Gecko.
By Duncan Heaney

You may have noticed that the Square Enix Blog has sprung into life over the last few months - we hope you’ve enjoyed the articles so far and continue to check in regularly for new content.

But today, I want to discuss something a little more sensitive than usual: let’s talk spoilers.

The problem of spoilers

Spoilers are a constant concern when putting material together for this blog.

It’s always there at the back of our minds because when somebody spoils something that you’re excited about, it’s just the worst.

It’s a pain I know all too well - back when I was just a wee lad, someone casually blurted out how Star Wars Episode 1 ended before I’d seen the movie.

It was devastating - I spent the entire movie waiting for the moment I knew was to come. And when it did, I felt… nothing. It all fell flat - for me, the movie had been spoiled (and hold any Jar-Jar Binks comments because it would be too obvious).

So I get it. Spoilers are bad, and it’s important to be careful when talking about our various games. But how far does that caution need to go - and what really counts as a spoiler?

What is a spoiler?

Sometimes avoiding the trap is straightforward - if a game’s been released in the last year - Shadow of the Tomb Raider, for example - it’s too soon to start tossing plot points around with wild abandon.

But when you have a back catalogue as big, rich and diverse as that of Square Enix, the situation gets a little more complicated. It raises questions about how best to handle any discussion of these games. For example:

Is there a statute of limitations on spoilers?

Does the age of the game matter? If a game has been out for more than a console generation, and the hype has died down, is it safe to assume that anyone who really cares will have played it?

This is on my mind at the moment, due to the recent releases (or announcements) of FINAL FANTASY VII, as well as FINAL FANTASY IX, FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 and FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Windows 10.

Let’s take FINAL FANTASY VII specifically. A classic that’s more than 20 years old, with some of the most famous moments in videogames history. Particularly that bit - you know the one I mean.

...except, maybe you don’t - and if not, do we want to be the ones that spoil it? Should we be?

Read more:

Opinions differ, even within Square Enix HQ. But moments that iconic in games are rare and precious - and they surely deserve to be experienced the ways the creators intended.

That’s the position we’ve ultimately settled on, but that raises another question: realistically, is that even possible?Put a post about FINAL FANTASY VII up on Facebook, for example, and someone will almost certainly mention it anyway. Big spoilsports that you are (don’t worry - we still love ya).

Does availability matter?

Some have suggested that availability plays a big part in when you should tiptoe around spoilers. Even when a game is years old, if it’s still available to buy, then there’s a chance someone could be about to experience it for the first time.

FINAL FANTASY IX would be a perfect example. It’s now available on all current gen platforms, including PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Steam - which means a whole new generation of players have access to Zidane and Co’s excellent adventure. Therefore, it seems to me that it would be rather cruel to share some of the biggest moments.

On the other hand, we have something like Gex: Enter the Gecko (if you remember playing that… congratulations, you’re old). That’s not available to buy on current gen systems, so I could mention that Emperor Rez ends the game trapped in a TV without any complaints, right?


What can you do if you can’t avoid it?

Then there are times where you simply can’t avoid spoilers. For example, did you read our interview with the co-directors of Life is Strange 2? It would be rather difficult to discuss the game in a meaningful way without going into the details.

Or sometimes you need to mention a minor plot point in order to point out patterns between games, or make a terrible joke - like this article about places to live, for example.

In those cases, all we can do is mark clearly in the article that spoilers are incoming - hopefully that’s enough.

So what was the point of this again?

So for now, we’ll continue to stay our course, warn you about spoilers when we use them, and for the most part try to refrain from discussing major story or gameplay moments, unless there’s a particularly good reason.

But really, we want to know what you think - how do you think we should handle spoilers? When is it okay to spoil a game? What rules would you set? How much responsibility do we - as this blog - have to keep spoilers to a minimum? And can you believe that President ShinRa was Cloud’s father and Barret was a ghost the whole time ?

Spoil us with your thoughts with us in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter.

7 CommentsTo leave a comment, login or join the community.
@Chaoscreature7 - my bad on the grammar. I don't spell well when requiring sleep. lol
There's really no point worrying about spoilers. The more a game is played the more everything is out there in the open. Twitch already destroys any chance of keeping spoilers out and when I game company tries to combat the issue with Twitch it's brought down like the company did a bad thing because the gamers these days are just trenders and want that social media vibe to follow. Leaks are near impossible to hide and when a game gets released it's open everywhere. The best solution a company can do in that situation is world wide releases. Many of the games releasing in a country in early ruins the experience for every other country. Twitch is one reason but it's a generally unfair to market a game with exclusive content anywhere or earlier anyone so fans even feel disappointed by companies producing their favorite games. World wide releases reduce spoilers to at least the people who bought it day 1. Content in games showing significant plot or too many trailers showing everything like the Kingdom Hearts series did with KH2's secret ending or KH3 consistant trialers also kill the surprise so limiting content that gets shown is essential for the surprise. Off topic but with SE games there's something I enjoyed with some of the classic games. They weren't an attempt to appeal to the fanbase but I felt had original ideas made by the ideas crafted by the people designing the games. Maybe it's something more with social media and the internet requiring so much attention but I think you're best ideas come from the people working on the project over someone who doesn't even know how to craft a story or create new ideas like the trenders often. I think it'll hit bigger surprises and combat spoilers by creating original surprises created by the artist.
Me, I don't really like spoilers at all. Mostly as a 'just to be safe' sort of thing. Someone could throw out a spoiler claiming that it's "not a big thing" or "you find out at the very beginning of the game", but to me that's still just as bad. Even if something is revealed early on, it usually either paves the way for other things later, or it's meant to be an early shock to set the tone of a game. When speaking of games to individual people, I usually err on the side of caution. If a spoiler can't be avoided, then I ask the people I'm talking to if they mind it. If they do, then I just respect that and say no more. If not, I'll continue. When writing a public article like this one though, it's a little harder. At that point the only thing you can really do is add a disclaimer or tag informing people that spoilers are contained within. Like with most things, it's really just a matter of excersizing common courtesy.
Here are my thoughts: Never. No, really. Never is it okay to reveal spoilers. All it takes is saying to someone, "Have you played FF7?" If they say yes, you can discuss things without worry. If not, then you don't have to spoil things for them. As far as online etiquette, sure, there are people that will outright spoil things. Here's a tip: don't be one of them. Spoiler tags exist on most formats for a reason and, if they don't, you can add your own. Really, if you care about the story and/or art form of the medium you are discussing, be it movies or gaming, it's not too difficult to preserve the moment for others that have yet to experience it.
Your company spoiled the majority of kingdom hearts 3 ln the trailers all the way up to release, and the kh community is still unhappy about that. So how about not showing off to much of the game like you did with kh3
I’m gonna pretend that Gex spoiler was just a “slip of the tongue” ; ) P.S. I’m old.
Spoilers are the bane of people using the internet.