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 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.