Borderlands 3 publishers 2K Games have admitted they sent private investigators to a YouTuber's home for a friendly chat. 2K say it's part of a ten-month investigation into YouTuber "SupMatto" for leaking "confidential information" and "infringing [their] copyright" by sharing unannounced details about Gearbox's FPS-RPG.
To be clear: SupMatto is not accused of leaking the actual game for people to play, only screenshots and snippets of information not yet revealed by the game's multimillion-dollar marketing campaign. That surely merits the not-remotely-intimidating tactic of sending hired goons to his door.
For several years, SupMatto has made squillions of videos about Borderlands weapons, characters, stories, updates, easter eggs, and so on. That's the sort of stuff 2K must be thrilled to have fans making, keeping the hype going between games. It is very convenient for publishers when fans make this sort of video for free. He's also dabbled in videos about leaked Borderlands 3 information, wee details about characters and things from sometimes-mysterious sources that 2K's expensive marketing campaign had not yet revealed. 2K are less happy with that.
"On Thursday July 25th, private investigators showed up to my home, trespassed on my private property, and questioned me," SupMatto said in a video this week, explaining why his channel had fallen quiet. "I was very tense, as many of you could imagine, having two people in suits you don't know turn up to your home."
SupMatto estimates they talked for 30-40 minutes. "They questioned me about various things relating to my channel, the livestream that was discussed on my channel [. . . ], and they told me they were from Take-Two Interactive," he said.
To which Take-Two and 2K have officially responded, yep, sounds about right.
"Take-Two and 2K take the security and confidentiality of trade secrets very seriously," they told IGN. "The action we've taken is the result of a 10-month investigation and a history of this creator profiting from breaking our policies, leaking confidential information about our product, and infringing our copyright."
They do claim that "the information he's sharing about the situation is incomplete, and in some cases untrue," but they don't dispute the goons.
SupMatto and 2K do disagree on how he came by some of his information: thumbnail images on Twitch which revealed the aforementioned "gameplay reveal" livestream ahead of 2K announcing it. SupMatto says the images were publicly visible on Twitch with a little legwork, 2K say they were private and found with a security exploit. That's largely secondary to the fact that 2K had already been investigating him for his other videos and, y'know, sent hired goons to his door over thumbnails for a marketing livestream.
"Not only were many of his actions illegal, but they were negatively impacting the experience of other content creators and our fans in anticipation for the game," Take-Two say.
Gosh, can you imagine? Illegal actions are bad enough, but negatively impacting the experience of content creators too? Prison would be insufficient: put him in space prison.
SupMatto claims that 2K issued copyright strikes against seven of his YouTube videos. That would've been enough for YouTube to shut down his entire channel, had six of them not soon been revoked. These videos, I remind you, just talked about leaked info like character skill trees or official marketing events.
He also notes that, shortly after the goons left, his channel's Discord server was shut down for being "involved in selling, promoting, or distributing cheats, hacks, or cracked accounts." IGN say that his YouTube had previously advertised access to a private Discord room with extra Borderlands 3 leaked information if they subscribed to his channel for $5/month. If true, that was pretty chuffing foolish of him but still wouldn't justify that.
In a remarkable attempt to turn this back on SupMatto and other people feeding fans the information they evidently crave, 2K say their crackdown on leaks is for the fans.
"We will take the necessary actions to defend against leaks and infringement of our intellectual property that not only potentially impact our business and partners, but more importantly may negatively impact the experiences of our fans and customers," they said.
Yeah yeah, of course they do want to protect their business, but most of all they want to protect fans from the horrors of unauthorised marketing.
IGN say that, as they understand it, 2K are not pursuing legal action against SupMatto. Presumably 2K are awaiting the establishment of space court so he can be adequately tried for his crimes against content creators.