Grand Theft Auto 6 leak: who hacked Rockstar and what was stolen? | Games

What has happened?

In the early hours of September 18, a poster on GTAForums with the name teapotuberhacker posted around 90 videos, totaling 50 minutes of footage from a development version of Rockstar Games’ upcoming video game Grand Theft Auto 6. Since then, the images have proliferated on social networks and the Internet in general. Shortly after the initial announcement, the hacker left a message on the forum stating that he wanted to “negotiate a deal” with Rockstar for the return of unreleased data, including the source code of grand theft auto 5 and the development version of Grand Theft Auto 6.

A lot of gameplay clearly in progress, from all stages of development. Some of the images are simply short animation test clips: one such video shows a figure leaning out of a car window armed with a rifle, aiming in a soft circle. In others, characters alternately walk and run to test animation progressions.

Other videos are more detailed. In one, a female player character is holding up a diner and pointing a gun at the cashier who places stacks of dollars on the counter, before the player collects the money and moves on. The scene is fluently voiced and animated, but still raw, with character models and settings that don’t have the detail expected from a finished game.

Even given the unfinished nature of the clips, with debugging commands and technical information overlaid, the leaked images appear to confirm many reported details about the game, including the presence of a female playable character in the single-player campaign for the first time, and the The setting for modern Vice City, the world’s equivalent of GTA Miami, which appeared in 2002’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Is it genuine?

Yes, according to our sources, and furthermore, it would be difficult to fake the sheer amount of work involved without devoting significant resources. GTA publisher Take-Two Interactive has acknowledged the leak and has been submitting takedown requests to YouTube under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, stating that the company owns the copyright to the published images.

Where he came from?

The hacker says the images were obtained by logging into Rockstar’s Slack channel, the communication platform used for internal collaboration. All 90 videos were posted there, he says, and were easily downloaded.

Who leaked it?

Teapotuberhacker also claims responsibility for a recent Uber data breach, and the techniques used seem similar. In both cases, the Slack messaging app was a major entry point, where information shared between staff members was likely used to gain further access to sensitive data. But the Rockstar hack seems less serious than the Uber attack, which involved the attacker gaining administrative access to the entire network, and was even able to control the initial response to the hack itself through full control of the Slack account.

In the case of Rockstar, the hacker seems to want to shake up the company. In addition to the videos, which have already been posted on YouTube as proof of the attack, he claims to have the source code for the development versions of GTA 5 and GTA 6, and appears to be blackmailing the developer for it.

What is the source code?

The actual code used to create a piece of software, which contains all the instructions that make a game work. Unauthorized release of the source code for a game like GTA 5 or 6 has a number of consequences, none of which are pleasant for a company like Rockstar. The most immediate result would be an additional stream of information about the upcoming game, as players can scan the code for hints of features and content not seen in the published videos. Depending on the integrity of the code that was stolen, it may even be possible to compile it into a playable piece of software, though it would probably be far from a full-featured game.

In the longer term, releasing source code for games like GTA risks revealing trade secrets of craftsmanship or engineering talent that have real value, and increasing the chance that pirated versions or knock-offs of the game will be created and distributed.

What has Rockstar done about it so far?

Parent company Take-Two has issued takedown notices for social media accounts, YouTube channels and other sites posting the stolen images. GTAForums, where the leak originally surfaced, and the GTA subreddit claim that they have been instructed by Take-Two to remove posts and links related to the leak. The original GTA forum thread started by teapotuberhacker was removed and later re-released with all GTA 6 links and details removed.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Rockstar said: “We recently experienced a network intrusion in which an unauthorized third party illegally accessed and downloaded sensitive information from our systems, including early development material for the upcoming Grand Theft Auto. At this time, we do not anticipate any interruptions to our live gaming services or any long-term effects on the development of our ongoing projects.

“We are extremely disappointed that details of our next game are being shared with all of you in this way. Our work on the next Grand Theft Auto game will continue as planned and we remain as committed as ever to providing you, our players, with an experience that truly exceeds your expectations. We will update everyone again soon and of course we will properly introduce this next game to you when it is ready. We want to thank everyone for their continued support through this situation.”

Why is this such bad news for Rockstar?

Any information about a game this big is very tightly controlled, and a leak of this magnitude is almost unprecedented. There will be financial consequences as Rockstar investigates the leak and likely evaluates labor practices. Publisher Take-Two may well face a drop in the value of its shares, as well as awkward questions from shareholders.

And in terms of reputation, this will negatively affect how Grand Theft Auto 6, arguably the biggest game of all time, is perceived when it finally releases. Game-in-progress footage is obviously unfinished and does not represent the quality that the developers will strive to achieve. We are already seeing images being broken on social media and in forums by uninformed users who object to their perceived quality and content.

How has the video game industry reacted?

With a mixture of shock and sympathy. Neil Druckmann, co-president of Uncharted developer Naughty Dog, tweeted: “To my fellow developers affected by the latest leak, please know that while it feels overwhelming right now, it will pass. One day we’ll be playing their game, appreciating their craft, and leaks will be relegated to a footnote on a Wikipedia page. Keep pushing. Keep making art.” Similar messages of support have come from indie developer Rami Ismail, Xbox Corporate VP Sarah Bond, and the creator of Gears of War. Bleszinski Cliff.

Whats Next?

The hacker has been using social media platforms to seek a response from Rockstar and is clearly hoping to sell the unpublished data. It’s unlikely we’ll ever find out if the company makes such a deal. From their announcement, it seems that Rockstar hopes to get over the crisis, but it is likely that they have started an investigation into the source of the hack. There has been no further response from the hacker so far, but if the source code is released, it will be even worse for Rockstar as it will make the game vulnerable to more hacks and exploits when it is released.

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