ON SEPTEMBER 17, a member with the alias teapot tuber hacker went to a Grand Theft Auto site with what they said were 90 clips from Rockstar Games’ next game, Grand Theft Auto VI, which is expected to be a major blockbuster. They stated, “[It’s] feasible I might release additional info soon, including the source code and assets for GTA 5 and 6, as well as a testing build for GTA 6.”
The hack was in fact successful. The next day, Rockstar said that it had “suffered a network intrusion” in which “an unauthorized third party unlawfully took private information from our system.” This material was obtained by downloading it illegally. That includes early footage from its future game, which resulted in the parent firm, Take-Two, scurrying to have films uploaded on platforms such as YouTube and Twitter deleted as swiftly as possible.
Essentially trying to blackmail Rockstar with Source Code of GTA 5 and even GTA 6 Source Code for the testing build
Awful, just awful. If the source code was to leak out for these it would be an unimaginable disaster and potentially delay Grand Theft Auto 6 from release further https://t.co/TX7J5ibFTK
— Benji-Sales (@BenjiSales) September 18, 2022
The breach involving Grand Theft Auto is among the most significant leaks to occur in the video game business, if not the most significant leak overall. It is mind-boggling how much information the hacker was able to get, including movies and even the source code for Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto VI.
Source code is the building block that enables game creators to individually design their games. Rockstar Games isn’t the only company that has suffered a major security compromise, though. This week, a user on Reddit uploaded 43 minutes of gameplay video from the forthcoming Diablo IV from developer Blizzard.
At the beginning of this month, information on Ubisoft’s upcoming Assassin’s Creed game, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, was leaked online before the company’s showy announcement. Since then, a YouTuber has come forward to admit responsibility for the leak after he breached an embargo. Hackers have already attacked renowned game studios in the past, such as Naughty Dog, and posted previously unpublished material regarding The Last of Us Part II.
Take-stock Two’s dropped immediately following the leak of Grand Theft Auto VI, and the firm reassured investors that it had “taken efforts to isolate and limit this event.” However, the full effects of this may not be seen for some time. The leaking of content is a headache for developers. Developers of video games that WIRED talked with saw the event as disheartening and even demotivating.
Alex Hutchinson, a veteran creative director whose work includes Assassin’s Creed III and Far Cry 4, has said that “you labor for years on a project and suddenly a half-completed version of it appears online.” “And you are getting endless terrible remarks about it, which you can’t defend because then you are just giving oxygen to a horrible situation.” “And you are getting endless negative comments about it.” And the ramifications that cascade from it may be far more devastating.
Players have already voiced their disapproval of the leaked build of Grand Theft Auto VI as well as the overall aesthetic of the game, which is still in development. A significant portion of this is due to a misunderstanding of how game development takes place and how games will look after they have been completed.
Take for example the game Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. An early build of a car chase that features Nathan Drake driving a jeep down what appears to be a 3D graph, with the road neatly squared, was shared on Twitter by Naughty Dog developer Kurt Margenau.
The chase takes place in front of buildings that look like they could be constructed out of children’s building blocks. According to a tweet he gave out, “Its purpose is to mimic the gaming experience as accurately as feasible.” Then repeat the process. The film comes to a close with a glance at the completed product, which is a shiny metropolis that is bursting with color.
The makers claim that leaks distort the public’s perspective of the game, leaving consumers with the impression that the version of the game they will purchase will be, well, garbage. “If you watched a Marvel movie that was filled with green screens and had no special effects, you would have a completely tarnished impression of the final quality, and if you never saw the final film then this would be your permanent impression,” says Hutchinson. “If you watched a Marvel movie that was filled with green screens and had no special effects, you would have a completely tarnished impression of the final quality.”
The consequences go deeper than what is visible on the surface. It has the potential to build walls between developers and the communities they serve, as well as improve the level of security and secrecy around projects. These ramifications have further-reaching effects, one of which is the erosion of faith in the department or departments that are suspected of being the leak’s origin. It is possible that this might result in an excessive amount of crunch.
According to Jessica Gonzalez, a former developer at Activision Blizzard, “Leaks frequently cause delays” if firms divert resources to the investigation and prevention of additional leaks. (According to a statement made by Rockstar, the company does not presently anticipate “any long-term influence on the development of our existing projects.”)
The fact that the code “shows how we develop the game,” as Gonzalez puts it, means that if a hacker does in fact get the source code for GTA VI, Rockstar’s problems might become much more severe. Another game developer, this one with over 20 years of experience working on AAA products, who spoke freely to WIRED on the condition that they remain anonymous, described the situation as “very difficult but also really horrible.”
According to him, leakers do genuine damage in this situation. “Source code is fluid,” he explains, “so it’s a snapshot of a given place and time.” “So it’s not really set up to be traversed without a lot of time and effort,” he continues, “but it might still be enormously detrimental to a team if they had proprietary or licensed code in there.”
In video games, developers are sometimes seen as being unduly secretive about their work, and there is frequently a request for developers to disclose more of their process in order to promote development literacy and demystify the amount of labor that goes into creating a video game. Some programmers, like the ones that worked on Quake, choose to make the source code available to the public so that users may experiment with it and build their own custom features. However, there is a distinction to be made between authors voluntarily releasing their code and having their code stolen.
“Leaking, more than anything else, makes firms less eager to participate,” says the AAA developer. This is true even if the information that was leaked had nothing to do with the community as a whole. If someone breaks into your home, you may become more suspicious of your neighbors and begin installing security measures such as locks, bars, and cameras. This is a bad situation for everyone involved.
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