It was initially theorized that someone who had gotten ahold of an early review copy was accidentally auto-sharing screenshots — many of which were showing more details than had been publicly released up to that point (via Kotaku). Now it looks like that may have been giving the leakers too much credit.
For the moment, the precise details are still unclear, but it seems as though a games retailer (unnamed and possibly still unidentified) began selling physical copies of “God of War Ragnarok” about two weeks ahead of its posted street date (Wednesday, November 9, 2022). Veteran series developer Cory Barlog expressed his disappointment (via Twitter) on the broken street date as well, apologizing to fans for having to “dodge the spoilers” and stating “this is not at all how any of us at SMS [Santa Monica Studio] wanted things to go.”
Accidental (or intentional) street date breaking typically can’t happen with digital releases due to automated date checks, but physical distribution is another matter, as it relies on people working a thankless retail job being willing to sit on high-demand stock anywhere from a few days to a week or more. It’s doubtful this will lead to a change in the way AAA games are distributed prior to release, but it has been a source of frustration for many.