The loss caused a huge fallout, sparking a discussion about losses in the video game industry and how they affect each level of game development. As the GTA 6 leak story continues, here’s everything you need to know about the saga so far.
We will update this story with new developments.
Every IGN Grand Theft Auto review
GTA 6 confirmed, but never shown
Rockstar officially announced the next Grand Theft Auto game on February 4, 2022, in a press release. “[W]We are pleased to confirm that active development for the next installment of the Grand Theft Auto series is well underway, “Rockstar wrote earlier this year.” We can’t wait to share more as soon as we’re ready, so stay tuned. tuned to Rockstar Newswire for official details. “
Prior to the announcement, Rockstar mainly discussed the ongoing success of Grand Theft Auto 5 and GTA Online, which were both receiving next-generation updates. While undoubtedly still popular, continuing to advertise a ten-year-old game was running out for some fans, and the announcement of the next GTA game seemed long overdue.
However, with the announcement coming from a press release with no additional material, it looked like GTA 6 was still early in development. Rockstar parent company Take-Two Interactive and its CEO Strauss Zelnick went on to say that more GTA 6 would be shared in the “Rockstar schedule”.
This did not happen.
Leaks Begin: “Here are 90 GTA 6 Movies / Clips”
GTAForums is one of the most popular online discussion forums to talk about all things Grand Theft Auto. On September 18, it became an unexpected home for leaked assets from Grand Theft Auto 6 still under development. The leaks quickly spread to other social media sites like Twitter and YouTube.
Various clips, with unfinished assets, showed different elements of the game being developed, including parts of the world, shooting and NPC AI. The clips would also have confirmed some rumors about GTA 6 that were already spreading online, such as the existence of male and female protagonists.
The leak came from a user called “teapotuberhacker” who also claimed to be the same person who hacked the Uber app earlier this month.
“Here are 90 movies / clips from GTA 6,” they wrote. The hacker also shared what appear to be various GTA 6 assets and the game’s code.
The Takedowns begin
Later the same day, the videos leaked across multiple platforms were removed at the request of Take-Two Interactive. As reported by VGC, the takedown requests appeared to come from individuals with Rockstar email addresses, confirming that the leaks were legitimate.
The next day, both GTAForums and GTA 6 subreddits removed the threads with the leaked content. Messages on both sites explained that they were complying with Take-Two’s requests to remove all copyrighted material. The original GTAForums thread was later restored, albeit blocked for new comments and with all links to the stolen material removed.
Rockstar officially confirms the hack
In a surprising move, Rockstar confirmed the veracity of the hack, which until then had still been touted by some as a very elaborate hoax.
“We recently experienced a network intrusion where an unauthorized third party illegally accessed and downloaded confidential information from our systems, including early development footage for the upcoming Grand Theft Auto.”
A message from Rockstar Games pic.twitter.com/T4Wztu8RW8
– Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) September 19, 2022
Rockstar also reassured fans that despite extensive leaks, the studio did not anticipate any disruption or “long-term development effect” of its ongoing projects. Work on the next Grand Theft Auto game would also “continue as planned”.
The FBI is involved
Given the extensive nature of the hacks and also that the reported victims are not one but two large companies, the FBI has been involved in an investigation into the hacks.
Uber posted a blog that revealed it was working with the FBI and the US Department of Justice to investigate the recent data breaches and claimed that their hacker was also suspected of being involved in the Rockstar hack. Uber has revealed that it believes the hacker or hackers are associated with a group known as Lapsus $ that has carried out similar attacks on companies like Nvidia, Microsoft and Samsung.
“We believe this attacker (or attackers) is affiliated with a hacking group called Lapsus $, which has been increasingly active in the last year or so.” Uber cites similar techniques used by the hacker group on major tech companies as reasons for their suspicion.
“There are also reports over the weekend that this same actor hacked video game producer Rockstar Games,” writes Uber. “We are in close coordination with the FBI and the US Department of Justice on this matter and will continue to support their efforts.”
GTA 6 Fallout Leaks
Even though there are only a few days left for the leaks, the episode generated a lot of discussion within the video game industry.
One such discussion is about the harm of sharing such early footage of a game and how that might affect the perception of the final product. Although the next Grand Theft Auto game is still early in development, popular understanding of game development is still lacking and this could have negative consequences for the final version of the game.
“My thoughts are with team a [Rockstar Games]”Wrote Xbox Sara Bond. “It can be daunting to have a project you’ve worked hard on to delight fans revealed and criticized before it’s ready.”
To my fellow developers out there affected by the latest leak, know that while it looks overwhelming right now, it will pass. Someday we’ll play your game, appreciate your skill, and the leaks will be relegated to a footnote on a Wikipedia page. Keep pushing. Keep making art. ♥ ️
– Neil Druckmann (@Neil_Druckmann) September 18, 2022
Jason Schreier of Bloomberg noticed the possible effects the leak could have on employees and how it could “limit the flexibility of working from home”.
As for the first shots, there was a rejection against any advance judgment on a work still in progress.
“Whoever judges the leaked footage of [GTA 6] like an idiot it clearly didn’t work in game development, “writes the game developer Cliff Bleszinski. “The amount of hours / people / dollars that are put into these games [equals] crazy.”
One way game developers have begun to fight and educate about what an in-development version of a game looks like is by sharing footage of their games early in the development cycle. Developers from Insomniac, Remedy, and others shared early footage from games like Control, Spider-Man, and others to illustrate the early development aspect of the game, including for AAA projects.
Since graphics are the first thing completed in a video game and CONTROL has won numerous awards for excellence in graphics, here is the footage from the start of development 🙂
Full video here: https://t.co/l2g7oPhtk7
– Paul Ehreth 🔻 (@bacon_sanwich) September 20, 2022
The caveat here is that the leaked footage of GTA 6 looks pretty good considering how much development the game is. And some developers are expanding the scope of how soon a game can be shown as EA Motive, who shared the looks of the upcoming Dead Space remake very early on, strongly emphasizing that everything they are sharing is still quite early.
But if more players get deeper insight and context into game development, even for AAA games, then maybe there is at least one benefit from this episode.
For some time we will not know all the effects of the leak on the development of Grand Theft Auto 6 or Rockstar Games. While all the possible consequences may not reveal themselves for years, this will still be one of the biggest losses in video game history and possibly the entertainment industry as a whole.
Matt TM Kim is IGN’s news editor. You can achieve it @lawoftd.