Rockstar confirmed Monday morning that it has suffered a “network intrusion” where “confidential information… including early development footage for the next Grand Theft Auto” was illegally obtained by a third party. The admission seemingly confirms the veracity of a host of leaked Grand Theft Auto VI videos that hit the Internet over the weekend.
The leaked footage was first linked on fansite GTAForums Sunday morning before spreading across the Internet. It includes roughly 50 minutes of early gameplay across dozens of videos, many featuring placeholder textures and text or debug information. The footage also seemingly confirms some of a July Bloomberg report about the next GTA sequel, including the game’s return to the Vice City setting and a Latina bank robber among a pair of playable protagonists.
The hacker, who claimed the videos were obtained via the Rockstar employee Slack, made unsubstantiated claims that they were also behind a massive recent Uber data breach, which also took place via Slack.
The hacker also said they were “looking to negotiate a deal” with Rockstar to potentially prevent the release of more footage and information, including purported copies of “GTA 5 and 6 source code” and a “GTA 6 testing build.” Release of that kind of code could be incredibly damaging to Rockstar, potentially giving hackers even greater opportunity to mess with the stability of the games’ online modes.
Can’t stop the signal
Rockstar responded to the leak Sunday by almost immediately issuing DMCA requests against multiple YouTube videos and tweets that shared portions of the footage. GTAForums, where the leaked footage was originally linked, has removed those links but kept the original post otherwise intact. The forum is allowing discussion of the leaks while barring “media or links to leaked copyrighted material.”
Despite Rockstar’s efforts, the footage is still widely available online.
“We are extremely disappointed to have any details of our next game shared with you all in this way,” Rockstar tweeted Monday. “Our work on the next Grand Theft Auto game will continue as planned and we remain as committed as ever to delivering an experience to you, our players, that truly exceeds your expectations.”
A Message from Rockstar Games pic.twitter.com/T4Wztu8RW8
— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) September 19, 2022
Rockstar’s confirmation of the data breach came after a late Sunday Bloomberg report cited “people familiar with the game’s development” in confirming the veracity of the leaked footage.
In addition to tweeting word of the breach Monday morning, Rockstar parent company Take-Two also alerted investors to the news by filing a Form 8-K with the SEC as a “report of unscheduled material events or corporate event.” Shares in Take-Two were down roughly 1.7 percent in trading early Monday, capping stock losses of over 40 percent since the price peaked in early 2021.
Rockstar is famously tight-lipped about its upcoming games, granting few developer interviews or early preview access for its highly anticipated and best-selling titles. Instead, the company lets splashy trailers and breathless fans do most of their promotional work for them.
The carefully choreographed marketing plan for GTA VI has surely been upended by this weekend’s leaks, which have ensured that the first impression many GTA fans have of the series’ next game will be unpolished and not very indicative of the quality of the final product. “We will update everyone again soon and, of course, will properly introduce you to this next game when it is ready,” Rockstar tweeted Monday morning.
Early leaks of upcoming video games aren’t unheard of, whether the result of either corporate accident or external hacks. But this GTA VI leak is notable for the sheer breadth of content revealed for a game that’s still in such an early, unfinished form.
“The cycle of ‘show us the game already!!!’ and then ‘ew it looks awful!!!’… just repeatedly kills off any hope I have of a future where game developers can be much more candid with audiences about how games are made,” game writer and voice actress Alanah Pearce said in a tweet that exemplified the general reaction among game developers.
“To my fellow devs out there affected by the latest leak, know that while it feels overwhelming right now, it’ll pass,” Naughty Dog co-President Neil Druckmann tweeted late Sunday, drawing on experience with a spoiler-filled Last of Us Part II leak from May 2020. “One day we’ll be playing your game, appreciating your craft, and the leaks will be relegated to a footnote on a Wikipedia page. Keep pushing. Keep making art.”
GTA VI has reportedly been in development since 2014, though that work has “been slower than impatient fans and even longtime employees have expected,” Bloomberg reported in June. In the meantime, 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V has sold 165 million copies, partly on the strength of GTA Online microtransactions that are bringing in an estimated $2.5 million a day.