Yesterday saw one of the biggest and most shocking leaks of company plans and internal communications that I think the gaming industry has seen in recent or even semi-recent memory, with documents uploaded publicly as part of Microsoft’s ongoing court case with the FTC over its planned $69 billion USD acquisition of Activision Blizzard seemingly having a huge number of very confidential files attached that revealed plans for new Xbox hardware, Bethesda game releases and a ton of internal emails that definitely weren’t meant for public consumption.
Now that the dust has (somewhat) settled on that explosive few hours, the attention has turned to just how this blunder happened and who is responsible, and despite plenty of theorising and conspiracy-mongering online, it turns out the culprit was simply Microsoft itself.
Douglas Farrar of the FTC shared on social media this morning an order Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, which states that on September 7th, the court had ordered the parties involved in this case to provide it with a secure cloud link to admitted exhibits with redactions with the intention of it being uploaded to the public-facing page established for the case, and that Microsoft provided the court with said link on September 14th, which was then obviously discovered to be lousy with stuff that wasn’t meant to be seen. The order states that the court was then informed of the mistakenly-included non-public documents and removed the files, but obviously not before it was far too late.
Interestingly, the order also states that the trial exhibits will be resubmitted this week, and states that it needs to be filed along with a written certification signed by all parties that everything has been reviewed and only contains public information – something you would have hoped was done the first time around.
Dad of Xbox, Phil Spencer, also addressed yesterday’s series of increasingly-catastrophic bombshells with a short tweet, saying “We’ve seen the conversation around old emails and documents. It is hard to see our team’s work shared in this way because so much has changed and there’s so much to be excited about right now, and in the future. We will share the real plans when we are ready.”
We've seen the conversation around old emails and documents. It is hard to see our team's work shared in this way because so much has changed and there's so much to be excited about right now, and in the future. We will share the real plans when we are ready.