Bard's Tale 'leaked'

PR ploy parodies plight of others; takes epidemic of code thefts over the edge and into the realm of humor. But will it play in Los Santos?

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You have to hand it to Brian Fargo of InXile Entertainment. He knows how to come down hard on the funny bone.

Fargo has already snared one of the movie industry's funniest front men, Cary Elwes, to voice the lead character in his upcoming Xbox and PlayStation 2 title The Bard's Tale. But Fargo isn’t waiting for the game to make hoped-for waves among reviewers and gamers. He's loading the dice and playing for laughs with a promise to "follow in the footsteps of other Triple A titles by implementing an official, unauthorized leak."

This ploy might be considered crass if it weren't so funny.

Calling it "a strategic plan to follow a growing trend," Fargo and the team at InXile are, according to a statement issued to the media this morning, "considering some form of leak of The Bard's Tale."

In truth, the game industry has of late been beset by an increased and unnerving spate of code thefts, which has led to the hacking of a number of upcoming games. This hacking has consequently made these upcoming offerings available to unscrupulous gamers weeks before their planned release dates. Half-Life 2, Halo 2, and, most recently, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, have suffered from hacks to servers or thefts of goods at duplication facilities. The seriousness of these thefts cannot be underestimated. The Bard's Tale "theft" (er, marketing ploy) is not quite as monumental, however.

Today's "news" from Fargo's Southern California outpost pokes fun at the recent news and quite successfully catapults his game--however briefly--to the top of the news heap. "It’s unclear how the leak will be handled, if implemented [at all]," the release unhesitantly flip-flops.

InXile marketing director Tom Richardson came clean by saying Fargo himself had come up with the idea. As for Richardson's contribution, he told GameSpot, "In 10 years of writing press releases, this is the most fun I’ve had with one."

Time will tell if the game is as amusing as today's publicity stunt. If not, well, the joke could be on Fargo.

Leak or no leak, The Bard's Tale for the Xbox and PS2 is due to retailers on October 26.

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