Ah, spoilers: Most people hate to hear them, some people love to give them, and nobody is quite sure as to what the "rules" are surrounding them. There is little consensus as to what actually constitutes a spoiler--can you only spoil a game's story, or is giving away cool gameplay twists also a spoiler? Perhaps even more confusing, especially now that there are over 40 years of video games being discussed, is how old a game has to be before spoilers are irrelevant and it's on you if you haven't played a game from blank number of years ago by now.
Even among those who have come up with some arbitrary age that a game has to reach before it's a spoiler free-for-all, most would agree that a game that has just come out or as only been out a few weeks should be talked about with discretion. What is likely unanimous is that games that aren't even out yet shouldn't be spoiled, and that most of the experience of an as-of-yet-unreleased game should be kept under wraps.
Which makes the fact that some games are spoiled before they are even released all the more baffling. This is especially odd when you consider that the only people who can actually spoil an upcoming game are the people who made the game, or at least who are charged with marketing it. But, as this list proves, that indeed does happen--and it has happened more than you probably realize.
This should go without saying, but this list is obviously going to be full of spoilers, so proceed at your own risk.
25 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Say what you will about the Call of Duty series, but they are chock full of amazing setpiece moments. At least, that's assuming you don't know what's coming before it happens--which requires Activision not to spoil major moments in trailers for the games before they even come out.
The first time you are met with a burning Washington, D.C. in Modern Warfare 2 should've been a cool and surprising moment... except that it was already heavily featured in pre-release trailers for the game, so we knew it was going to happen before we even touched the game.
24 Xenoblade Chronicles X
A rare bright spot in the Wii U's largely underwhelming lineup, especially in terms of games that haven't gotten and probably aren't going to be getting a superior Switch port, Xenoblade Chronicles X was a must-buy for anyone who wanted to get the most out of the fledgling system.
The fact that two major plot points were spoiled in trailers really hurt this fantastic exclusive.
Not only did trailers spoil Lao's eventually double-cross, but they gave away Elma's surprise reveal as an alien. For RPGs in particular, any story spoilers are always a big deal.
23 Dead Space
End boss fights are the climax of most games and many of gaming's best final battles are great precisely because you don't know what they are going to look like or be against until you're in them.
Of all the things not to give away in a trailer, it's a cool final boss battle - yet that's what happened with EA horror game Dead Space, which had pre-release trailers that literally showed the final boss against the Hive Mind and completely ruined the player discovering it for themselves.
22 Dragon Age: Inquisition
Gamers who follow a franchise are always fascinated by which characters enter and exit the series at various points, and it is always a huge thrill when a character from a previous game makes a surprise appearance in a sequel.
Dragon Age fans should've been able to enjoy such a moment when Hawke showed up in Inquisition, but there was one small problem, one of the pre-release trailers for the game was more or less completely built around Hawke's return, thus spoiling what could've been a really cool reveal.
21 The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Even in the installments where fighting Ganon at the end is a foregone conclusion and is built toward for the entire game, Zelda fans still like to be surprised by what that encounter actually looks like when they reach it for themselves.
Yet again, pre-order bonuses spoil a game.
One of the special art sleeves you could get if you pre-ordered Wind Waker directly depicted that game's final Ganon boss fight. Of course, many Wind Waker trailers had already given away a lot of late-game content, which is kind of unusual for the notoriously secretive Nintendo.
20 Final Fantasy VII
At this point, the passing of Aeris in Final Fantasy VII is as ubiquitous as Bruce Willis being a ghost in The Sixth Sense, and it's hard to imagine a time when it was actually a secret and people still had the chance to be surprised by it.
In the case of FFVII, all you had to do is watch a particular North American commercial for the game that not only actually showed the scene in question but was accompanied by the narration "A love that can never be." They did everything but show her tombstone.
19 Far Cry 4
There is a lot going in on Far Cry 4 story-wise, but it's built around protagonist Ajay trying to find a shrine in which to spread his mother's ashes. It's not a foregone conclusion that he even finds the shrine, so there's dramatic tension to a story that is not guaranteed to end the way it's supposed to.
Cut to one of the game's trailers, which shows a moment that literally takes place during the game's ending cutscene. Moreover, it shows Pagan Min standing in the doorway of that very shrine, giving away that the player at least gets to it.
18 Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
In what might be a first, the press release for Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn had the distinction of basically spoiling two games at once.
The entire previous Fire Emblem game kept the Black Knight's identity a secret and it wasn't going to be revealed until near the end of sequel Radiant Dawn.
Yet, that secret that was to remain a mystery for players for almost the full length of two RPGs was completely spoiled right there in a press release that more or less gave away Radiant Dawn's entire plot.
17 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
This one is a bit divisive, but we're including it anyway as enough people fall on the side of it being a spoiler.
One of the main images used to promote Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is of The Apprentice using what are certainly some formidable Force powers to pull an entire Star Destroyer from the sky. A lot of people felt that the scene would've been better-served as a fun surprise moment when it happens in the game, making that when we first discover just how powerful this character truly is, rather than already knowing that in advance.
16 Portal 2
To be fair, anyone who listened to "Still Alive," the end credits song to the first Portal, knew that antagonist GLaDOS was, well...still alive. But a fun little ditty that plays at the end of a game isn't necessarily canon and doesn't necessarily mean that the next game wouldn't go in a different direction.
I'm making a note here...HUGE SPOILER. It's hard to overstate my disappointment.
GLaDOS's eventually reveal in Portal 2 should've been an awesome surprise when players encountered it, had "her" prominence in the game not already been given away in the game's pre-release marketing.
15 Resident Evil 6
To say that Resident Evil's plot has been a convoluted mess for most of its existence would be an understatement. Capcom deserves credit for not rebooting the series five times and trying to keep a consistent narrative going for so long, but there's a reason why most developers don't attempt that.
There isn't much nice to say about Resident Evil 6, but players at least had the right to enjoy some fun plot twists if they toughed it out. So it's too bad that the eventual reveal of Jake Muller being Albert Wesker's son was spoiled by the game's trailers.
14 Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
Most people don't play platform games for their stories, but within the genre, one franchise that has plots that are slightly more worth paying attention to than others is Ratchet & Clank.
Going Commando actually had a pretty interesting thief character whose secret identity was fun to speculate about until it was revealed.
At least, that's only if you happened to miss the trailer for the game that completely gave away the thief's gender and real name. At least they didn't outright show her, so that's something...we guess.
13 Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
It might seem silly to accuse trailers for a remake to contain spoilers, but not everyone who plays a remake has played the original. Half of a remake's target audience should be exactly that: People who didn't play the original.
As remakes and remasters have become more common, trailers for games like The Last of Us Remastered and Xenoblade Chronicles 3D were kind enough to contain spoiler warnings. Trailers for Metal Gear Solid GameCube remake The Twin Snakes did no such thing, and completely spoiled the identity of the mysterious cyborg ninja for those who didn't play the PlayStation original.
12 Final Fantasy XIII
To be fair, sometimes the way trailers spoil a game takes a keen eye and are easy to have been overlooked by whomever put the trailers together.
There is a point in Final Fantasy XIII where we think party member Sazh has taken his own life. However, the trailers make it obvious that he comes back.
At the point where we think Sazh is gone for good, we haven't seen several big moments that included him that were shown in the trailers, so clearly those things still need to happen and he needs to be back for them. Oops.
11 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
There are some games where the protagonist is the twist in some fashion. Metroid is famous for revealing to players that the male bounty hunter they thought they'd been playing as is actually a female at the end of the game... and possibly bikini-clad depending on certain conditions.
PC post-apocalyptic shooter S.T.A.L.K.E.R. deliberately keeps the protagonist's identity a mystery for much of the game and it's treated as a big moment when it is finally revealed. Too bad that some news outlets didn't get the memo, and went ahead and spoiled it in preview for the game.
10 Ace Attorney Series
We have a serious objection to anyone who doesn't appreciate the delightfully quirky Ace Attorney series of legal-based adventure games. For those that aren't familiar, the games require the player to be both investigator and lawyer as they try to solve a succession of cases, generally connected in some way to a bigger overall plot.
It's kind of important to the enjoyment of the games that players don't know the culprit in any of the cases.
And yet, Capcom has revealed the suspect in the first cases of almost every game in the series via the trailers. Not cool.
9 Quake 4
John Romero, pioneering game designer who worked on Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake, once compared stories in video games to stories in certain 'kinds of films', saying that they're only there to propel the action forward and generally aren't worth paying attention to.
Still, by the time Quake 4 rolled around, you couldn't really get away with mindless shooters anymore and some real effort was put into both the game's plot and a mid-game twist that had you switch to the enemy side. Sadly, that effort was moot as the twist was spoiled in press releases, trailers, and even the game's packaging.
8 Crash of the Titans
Platform games have long loved messing with us in regards to whom the "real" final boss is. Mega Man games used to occasionally tease a non-Dr. Wily end boss only to have the mad scientist inevitably be revealed as the main big bad.
Crash of the Titans tried to subvert this trope, but it was irrelevant when it was spoiled by the game's trailers.
Instead, we were all told well in advance that the "Dr. Cortex" driving the game's evil goings-on was actually the niece of the original Dr. Cortex, rather than it being a neat surprise.
Nier is an interesting game in that it got lukewarm reviews and didn't seem to make much of a splash, yet it spawned a well-received sequel that made people go back and better-appreciate, and drive up the price for, the original.
Well, there is little question whether people revisiting Nier have already had the game's many twists spoiled for them as many already were in one particularly oversharing pre-release trailer that gave away the game's major time jump, the existence and location of Experiment No. 7, and the fact that a major ally double-crosses you.
6 Citizens of Earth
Strategy title Citizens of Earth didn't make a huge impact or garner stellar reviews, but it's a fun little game with a decent fanbase who probably would like to discover the game's secrets for themselves.
A trailer posted to publisher Atlus' YouTube channel contained a pretty unfortunate spoiler that showed the game's entire roster of unlockable characters, including two that are a secret until you come upon them. That particular video was later taken down, but the one put up in its place still oddly gives away one of those two spoiler characters.
5 Deus Ex
Warren Spector's Deus Ex was one of the most groundbreaking video games ever made, expanding the possibilities of open-ended gameplay. It was also among the first batch of video games to have a genuinely compelling plot filled with legitimately surprising twists and turns.
One of the biggest tragedies about the game, other than the disappointing sequel, Invisible War, is that two of its big double-crosses were spoiled in trailers.
Sure, you probably should've been skeptical about cybernetic femme fatale Anna Navarre from the start, but it still shouldn't have been given away before you even met her.
4 Jak II
While M. Night Shyamalan's much-reviled The Village made audiences across the world collectively groan when it tried to pull it, the "this actually takes place much farther in the future than you think" trope has been done pretty well in fiction, including several video games.
It probably was never going to be a complete gut-punch of a surprise when Jak II attempted this style of twist, but the fact that basically every trailer for the game spelled it out already took away our chance to get even the mildest amount of surprise from it when we encountered it in-game.
3 Tales of Symphonia
Video games have a long tradition of having art books as a pre-order bonus, and some of them are really well-done and would probably be pricey if sold separately.
The problem with a good art book is that it is extensive in the art in contains, even from later parts of the game.
The art book for Tales of Symphonia was full of spoilers, which was unfortunate for anyone who happened to look through it before they played the game, which they probably did, since it wasn't out yet.
2 Shadow of the Colossus
Legendary game director and designer Fumito Ueda denied any connection between his previous game, Ico, and his then-upcoming title Shadow of the Colossus. This was eventually revealed to be misleading, but it wasn't because Ueda was being dishonest, as he simply wanted players to discover the subtle connections between the games on their own and be excited when they did.
Sony's marketing department had other ideas.
Ueda's coyness was for naught as one Colossus' trailers gave away one of the biggest connections of all, showing the lead character with Ico-like horns.
1 Sonic Heroes
If we were more cynical, we'd say something like "post-Dreamcast Sonic games are spoiled when you actually play them anyway." But we'd never say something like that...
For those that still have a soft spot for ol' Sonic, they at least want to go into each of his games fresh.
And for those that actually toughed it out to the end of Sonic Heroes, they should have been surprised to find Metal Sonic as the final boss, had he not already been a major part of the game's promotional materials.