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Twitch streamers already have Pokémon Legends: Arceus, and no one knows how

Pokemon Legends Arceus screenshot
(Image credit: Nintendo/The Pokemon Company)

Nintendo keeps a tight rein on most of its new releases, and Pokémon Legends: Arceus is no exception. This spinoff in its popular monster-hunting franchise will come out this Friday, January 28, and there hasn’t been a ton of early coverage via official channels. 

However, the story is very different on Twitch, where at least 15 different streamers have somehow gotten their hands on the next Pokémon game, and are broadcasting it for the world to see.

Information comes from Eurogamer, which researched how many Twitch streams were currently broadcasting Arceus gameplay. At 15 accounts with approximately 800 viewers between them, it’s hardly an epidemic. And yet, it’s not at all clear how these streamers got their hands on Pokémon Legends: Arceus about a week before its official launch. 

If the gamers downloaded a leaked version of the game, they’re in the wrong, legally speaking. But if, perhaps, they found an early copy at retail, there’s no law against simply streaming a game you bought in a store.

Interestingly enough, the fact that the game leaked early may work to Nintendo’s advantage. One Japanese retailer reports that pre-orders jumped by more than 100 units over the weekend. As Nintendo has been relatively stingy with Arceus pre-release information, the argument goes, the leaks have given fans what they wanted to see, and convinced them to invest in the game.

Still, Nintendo generally responds harshly to fans who use its IP in unsanctioned ways. The Eurogamer story discusses two Pokémon Sword and Shield leakers who had to pay Nintendo $150,000 after a court settlement; Nintendo has also just cracked down on a Pokémon FPS fan project. Nintendo may or may not take action against the Twitch streamers, but the precedent to do so is there, at least.

As for Pokémon Legends: Arceus itself, Tom’s Guide knows essentially what the rest of the Internet knows. It’s an action/RPG in an open world that’s more about real-time combat and exploration than previous Pokémon games have been. It has a watercolor palette and a mildly steampunk aesthetic, and it will act as a prequel to most of the mainline Pokémon games.

Tom’s Guide will have a full review after the game comes out. Until then, you can watch or ignore the Twitch streamers at your own discretion. But don’t be surprised if those streams suddenly disappear, and don’t resurface until after January 28.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.