Last week brought us news about one of gaming’s biggest hacks to date.
The developers of the highly successful Grand Theft Auto series and the Red Dead series, Rockstar Games, found themselves on the receiving end of a massive breach of their digital security.
During this hack, dozens of video files pertaining to the highly sought-after Grand Theft Auto 6 were leaked onto the fan forum, GTAForums. About 90 or so videos and clips were leaked this way.
This gave the wider world its first look at the state and direction of GTA 6.
Of course, since this was leaked footage, the overall look is unfinished and rough. But it was enough to create a chain reaction amongst Rockstar, fans, the authorities, and curious onlookers.
In this story, the hack and subsequent leak is just chapter one in a much larger series of events that have since unfolded.
So let’s take a closer look at the Rockstar hack and what came after.
Rockstar and Its Golden Goose
Rockstar has been enjoying the popularity of the GTA series for some years. GTA 3 was very well received, GTA: Vice City is considered by many to be just as much of a classic as the next game, GTA: San Andreas.
In fact, it is worth noting that sometime in 2018, GTA 5 became the highest grossing media title of all time. It beat Star Wars, Avatar, and many more.
So when Rockstar finally announced GTA 6 in February this year, there were a lot of hopes and expectations put on that title, both from within the company and from fans outside the company.
This is because GTA 5 came out almost a decade ago in 2013 and many felt that the next GTA game was long overdue.
The press release announcing the game stated that the game would be released “on Rockstar’s schedule”.
The Story of the Leak
Let’s talk about the hack and subsequent leak of information. As mentioned before, the information was leaked onto GTAForums; a popular online discussion forum.
There were 90 clips showing off various unfinished assets, parts of the world, gunplay, and NPC AI. There was also some evidence pointing to the fact that the game would feature male and female protagonists, much like what was speculated online.
The hacker identified themselves as “teapotuberhacker”. They claimed that they were also behind the hack of Uber earlier this month.
In addition to the clips, the hacker also shared what appeared to be GTA 6 assets and some parts of the code.
The First Response
As soon as the information hit GTAForums, it went viral. It began appearing on various social media websites such as Twitter, Instagram, etc. The videos also made their rounds on YouTube.
However, a few hours after the leak, an effort began to takedown as many of the videos on as many platforms as possible.
The requests to takedown these videos came from Take-Two Interactive, the publisher of GTA. VCG reported that the requests were made by individuals with Rockstar email addresses, which is a good indicator that the leaks were real.
GTAForums and the GTA 6 subreddit also removed all posts related to the leak, stating that it was done to comply with requests by Take-Two Interactive.
Rockstar Confirms the Hack
In a move that surprised many, Rockstar came forward and confirmed the authenticity of the hack and the leaked materials.
In a post made on Twitter, Rockstar games addressed the situation and said that despite being extremely disappointed, work will continue on the next GTA game as scheduled. You can take a look at the tweet below.
Things Escalate Further
Things escalated further when aforementioned ride-sharing app Uber released a blogpost revealing that it was working with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate recent data breaches.
Uber also mentioned that the same hacker is reported to have been involved in the Rockstar hack. It went on to state that the hackers were believed to be involved with a group called “Lapsus$”.
This group has reportedly been more and more active recently and were reportedly involved with similar hacks of companies such as Nvidia, Microsoft, and Samsung.
Following the leak, there were many perspectives and discussions on what was revealed. One particular topic of note was how early release of such materials can harm the perception of the final product.
Prominent figures from the games industry such as game developers stepped up and showed their support and solidarity with the developers who were affected by the leaks. After all, it was their hard work that was revealed before it was ready.
Twitter lit up with tweets like the following from Neil Druckmann, the director of the Last of Us.
One interesting kind of post that appeared during this stage of things was the “before vs after” comparison of games released by developers. These were released in response to some criticisms that the (obviously unfinished and work-in-progress) footage of GTA 6 looked bad or rough or ugly, etc.
Here’s an example from the Lead Designer of Control.
Here’s an example from the Uncharted franchise.
An Arrest is Made
The most current update we could find on the story comes from a development over the weekend.
A UK teen was arrested by City of London Police in relation to hacking.
According to journalist Matthew Keys, the 17-year old was arrested for being connected to the Rockstar and Uber hack. He also claimed that the hacker was connected to the hacker group Lapsus$.
The BBC also reported on the incident later.
GTA 6 leaked in a rough and unfinished state. Then the hacker was caught. So…what happens now?
While information on the situation develops, we can look to other developers and publishers, along with gamers to see how they are reacting.
There seems to be a growing concern about cybersecurity and digital protection from the side of the developers and publishers. What this will amount to and how it will affect the games industry or the games we get will be interesting to see.
On the side of the gamers, this whole situation has opened up many discussions about the ins and outs of game development. This, plus the fact that developers are more accessible than ever now thanks to social media, makes the situation a bit uncertain.
While some are taking this situation to learn more about how games are made and what challenges developers face, others are using this as an excuse to criticize the whole thing.
The fact that anyone can make a social media account and talk to their favorite or least favorite creators makes this dynamic a bit tense.
As for the game itself, Rockstar has mentioned that development would continue on schedule and that it would be released when they feel it is ready.
And that’s where this story ends… at least for now.
We shall keep an eye on what becomes of Lapsus$, Rockstar, GTA 6, Uber, the FBI, and all the other players involved in this story as it develops.