Last weekend, a hacker shared footage and the source code of the as-yet-unreleased Grand Theft Auto 6. While gamers worldwide are eager to sift through all the images, bottom line this is a deplorable situation for everyone: for Take-Two and Rockstar, for the hacker himself and for anyone eagerly awaiting the new GTA.
We can now speak about the biggest ‘leak’ ever within the game industry. While game assets have been leaked on a large scale before (e.g. from Half-Life 2 and The Last of Us: Part 2), this is not only about images, but also about the source code. A small part of that code has already been placed online and the hacker claims to have the complete code in his hands – it remains to be seen what he will do with it. In addition, Grand Theft Auto 6 will probably have to wait a few more years, so the leaked material has also appeared long before the game’s release.
Take-Two is now trying to limit the damage by taking as many videos offline as possible, but the damage has already been done. Millions of people have seen the footage and it’s unlikely that the publisher can scrub the entire internet clean. And then at the time of writing it remains to be seen what else the hacker in question will reveal. More images or even the complete source code of the game: apparently it is all possible.
Blood Sweat and tears
The internet has been in turmoil since yesterday. That’s not surprising: Grand Theft Auto 5 is one of the most successful games ever and the sequel is therefore the most wanted game of the moment. Rockstar has only announced that the game is in development. Furthermore, several rumors have come out in recent years, but official information – let alone gameplay footage – has never been published. It is therefore perfectly logical that gamers massively consume the leaked images.
Still, beyond the complete shock that a leak of such a caliber could happen, the situation is especially regrettable for all parties involved. We can’t imagine what the emergency meetings yesterday and today at the companies involved must have looked like. Besides the fact that it is pure theft and even big companies don’t deserve it, it is ultimately even more painful for the hundreds, if not thousands of developers who have put blood, sweat and tears into this product for years. They now watch with sorrow as their hard work is sent out into the wide world in the most banal way.
The hacker himself may feel the ultimate high from one of his greatest ‘achievements’ ever, but I can’t imagine reaping the long-term benefits of this. You can bet take it that Take-Two will do everything it can to track down the person in question. It is almost inevitable that the police will get involved and maybe even the FBI will be called in for a situation of this magnitude. Some hackers are rewarded with a nice job at a company or the government after a big move, in this case a hefty prison sentence is more likely. If they can track down the hacker, of course.
There is also little to celebrate for gamers. While the leaked footage of this early version of GTA 6 looks very impressive in its own right, this is obviously not the way we’re supposed to be introduced to the game. The unveiling of a new GTA is an event in itself – I can still remember exactly where I was when the first Grand Theft Auto 5 trailer was posted online. Rockstar is master of announcing their upcoming products. Yes, it’s just marketing, but that determines the image you have of a product from the moment it is unveiled. The precise formation of that image has now been permanently affected, no matter how great the first real trailer of GTA 6 will be.
There’s a good reason developers often don’t release early images of their games, at least not (far) before a game’s release. While in the film industry we are used to photos and videos from behind the scenes, many gamers still have trouble placing ‘raw’ footage in context. While there has been plenty of enthusiastic response, since yesterday there have been countless examples on forums and social media of people not understanding why the new GTA looks so unfinished. Many do not agree that a developer first carefully perfects the gameplay system before the face of the game is finished as beautifully as possible. As mentioned, the image of the game is already affected beforehand.
Finally, what does this mean for the future development of Grand Theft Auto 6? How much time and effort goes into undoing this situation as best you can? Another party owns the source code. That can ensure that people can adjust the game to their liking and that hacking becomes a lot easier, which certainly has far-reaching consequences for the online mode.
Rockstar will have to adjust (part of) the code – a big job, especially since the end result must remain the same. How much extra time will this take? Will the unannounced release date be pushed back further? And worse, how hard should the people at Rockstar be working now? That is an extra pressing question for a company that was previously known for ‘crunch’, and has fortunately made positive steps in recent years.
So we have no reason to celebrate this unique situation. It makes sense that we follow it – it’s also hard to look away from a serious accident – but that doesn’t make it a positive event. Just because a hacker wanted to flex his muscles, the lives of thousands of people involved in the development of Grand Theft Auto 6 have been turned upside down and millions of people looking forward to the new GTA will forever remember this moment as the moment they were introduced to it. the game. This is nothing more than common theft followed by the unlawful publishing of private material. Bah.