The Last of Us 2 leaks can be beat with early digital release (but it’d hurt retailers)

Today has been a rollercoaster of a day: A bunch The Last of Us 2 leaks have appeared online, with spoilers now filling social media and the situation quickly getting out of hand. This terrible news was mitigated by Sony announcing the new The Last of Us 2 release date. Even so, a The Last of Us 2 digital early release has been suggested by those eager to get their hands on the game before reading spoilers, though the reality is more difficult than simply firing the game out into the ether.

If you haven’t been following The Last of Us 2, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. First, the game’s release was delayed yet again. Then, neither Sony nor Naughty Dog has seen fit to announce an updated release date until today, nearly a month after they originally said they’d be delaying the game.

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We won’t touch on any of the specifics of the spoilers here, but they’re now probably the biggest factor that needs to be considered. The Last of Us 2 is a very story-heavy game, and now both Sony and Naughty Dog have a choice to make: do they release the game now, or do they wait?

The Last of Us 2 digital early release might hurt retailers

The Last of Us 2 digital early release guitar

Here’s the problem: many retailers are shut down in the United States and around the world. While voluntary (and involuntary) business closures and lockdowns are easing up in some regions, other places are still very much closed for business.

A The Last of Us 2 early digital release would be great news for gamers, especially for the ones who are keen to avoid any spoilers or leaks. Unfortunately, it could cause trouble for the various brick-and-mortar retailers out there.

Many people are happy to buy collector’s editions without the game itself, but an early digital release would probably mean that a lot of physical copies don’t get sold. Goodness knows how many of these discs have been printed thus far.

While some people surely prefer to own a physical copy if it’s available, most wouldn’t want to wait several weeks (or several months) when a digital version is available. Even fewer would buy a physical copy after they already own the game digitally.

Can players avoid leaks until The Last of Us 2 release date?

The Last of Us 2 digital early release arrow

Most of the downsides for a potential The Last of Us 2 digital early release are centered on retailers. It could also impact overall sales — fans might not want the collector’s edition after they get a digital copy, or they may feel put off by a staggered launch if they don’t buy digital.

While spoilers are currently circling online, if the game was released digitally before its physical launch on June 19, plot details would no doubt travel much faster than they are currently. Come June, those who would otherwise pick up a physical copy of the game may have been unable to avoid spoilers, and therefore may no longer be interested in playing what will certainly be a story-heavy game.

Sony has been shooting out DMCAs left and right, but that’s only going to slow down the impact of the leaks somewhat. Once the internet has something, it’s out there forever. Many (if not most) fans are going to avoid temptation, but it’s more difficult to avoid such things in our increasingly-interconnected world of social media.

Releasing The Last of Us 2 digitally might be the easiest way to mitigate the damage caused by today’s leaks, but it could also do long-term harm to The Last of Us 2‘s sales.  Regardless of how Sony wishes to approach the game’s launch, it’s going to have a heck of a battle trying to keep everything under wraps.

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