Grand Theft Auto 6 leaked, hacker wants deal

Grand Theft Auto 6, the next game in the popular GTA series, has had around 90 videos of footage leaked online. The videos were of the game during early development, showing a game that is very much still in progress. The leak is being discussed as the worst leak in gaming history.

Video games take a lot of time and energy to create — the more complex the game, the more development time and resources. Due to how long games can take to finish, games go through “development builds,” which are stages of the game in development leading up to its release.

Reported by Axios (and later corroborated by Jason Schreier of Bloomberg,) the hacked videos show a build of GTA6 from 2021, with the footage showing character animation tests, duck-and-cover mechanics, and unfinished environmental assets — all things that are very common from a game still in development. The game does appear to take place in Vice City, the GTA series’ fictional Miami — corroborating reports that GTA6 would have a female lead and a more inclusive design.

What makes the hack dangerous, aside from the fact that the hacker claims they stole the footage from Rockstar’s employee Slack channels, is that the hacker also claims that they have the source code for the game. Source code can be thought of as a “master key” to a game — with it, programmers and modders can do quite literally anything they want to the game. That includes creating hacks that can be used for online play, often in malicious or disruptive ways, or for discovering company-specific secrets that sometimes get left in the source code (often unintentionally.)

While leaks happen in games, they usually happen from finished projects, like an early reviewer sharing footage and breaking an NDA a few weeks before a game’s official launch. Source code being available for a game that hasn’t been released could force GTA6’s launch back several years while they re-engineer it — that’s how important source code is to any video game.

Using that source code as leverage, the hacker stated that they are “looking to negotiate a deal” with Rockstar. What that deal entails is unknown — no demands were listed for the hacker, although in their forum post they stated that they “could leak more data soon.”

This could have unfortunate side effects for Rockstar’s employees as well. Since the hack was supposedly obtained from their company Slack, the company could reign in their work-from-home policy, a policy that was enacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rockstar in the past has been known as a studio that embraced “crunch culture,” a relic of the older game development days where studio employees would work nights and weekends in addition to normal working days.

Written by Junior Miyai on behalf of GLHF.

Leave a Comment