A massive leak of footage from the next big Rockstar Games release recently shook the video game industry. What does it mean for ‘GTA,’ fans of the franchise, and the way games get made?
Late on Saturday night, something incredible happened: A rumor about Grand Theft Auto VI actually turned out to be true. This time one of the most scandalous leaks in video game history occured. Nine years to the day that Grand Theft Auto V came out, nearly 100 videos and screenshots of an early version of its successor had surfaced.
The leak came from a thread at the website GTAForums, where a user named “teapotuberhacker”—who claimed to be the same person who hacked Uber last week—matter-of-factly stated, “Here are 90 footage/clips from GTA 6.” And there they were: images and nearly an hour’s worth of clips of a nowhere-near-half-baked build of the game, including videos of a female playable protagonist (accompanied by a male sidekick) orchestrating a hostage situation inside and outside of a diner, a male playable protagonist strolling around a strip club and talking to NPCs at a pool, and several sequences of outdoor driving or walking. Much of the footage featured debug code and other normally non-public-facing architecture and interfaces that illustrated some of the systems working under the hood. The leaker also posted images of assorted game assets and snippets of additional Rockstar code.
(We are obviously not going to show any of the leaked content here for legal reasons and it wouldn’t be fair to those who have worked so hard on the game)
In the hours after the illicit data dump, fans debated whether the material was real or an extremely elaborate hoax. But by Sunday morning, credible reports had confirmed its authenticity. And on Monday, GTA developer Rockstar Games—which had already started spamming takedown orders in an attempt to play Whac-A-Mole with the rapidly proliferating footage—ended any doubt, announcing that it had “recently suffered a network intrusion in which an unauthorized third party illegally accessed and downloaded confidential information about our systems, including early development footage for the next Grand Theft Auto.”