The gaming world is losing its mind over Rockstar Games’ recent release of internal data on Grand Theft Auto 6. A hacker by the name of “Tea Pot” managed to get his hands on an unfinished version of the most hyped game of the generation. . He got us thinking about other times game studios have had a breakout. Developers usually try to keep a tight rein on information to control their marketing cycle, but cunning spies and hardcore hackers always seem to find a way in. Here are 10 leaks that dramatically rocked the gaming world.
1. The Last of Us 2
It quickly became clear that The Last Of Us was going to be a major franchise for Sony, so a sequel seemed inevitable. But when a culprit leaked major plot details for TLOU 2 in May 2020, he shook the industry to its core. The rich and compelling plot is one of the game’s biggest selling points, so having all of that spoiled, complete with video clips to back up the shocking twists, was a big deal. The identity of the leaker was never made public, and while there was some backlash from fans, The Last Of Us 2 was a huge critical and commercial success, so no real harm was done.
The game distribution chain opens up many possibilities for information to reach the public too early. One of the most massive examples came from Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service. In September 2021, a developer from Ukraine managed to access the service’s database backend and discovered a huge list of upcoming games, many of which had not been announced to the public at all. Some of the most notable include Kingdom Hearts IV, Crysis 4, and Street Fighter 6. By volume, this is one of the most shocking leaks of all time, affecting dozens of companies and still being proven right over a year ago. after.
3. Fallout 4
Modern game development contains hundreds of moving parts that need to be coordinated, and it’s hard to keep a secret under those conditions. So even though Bethesda was trying to play things up close with the highly anticipated Fallout 4, it didn’t take long for people to get their hands on a few things. Kotaku’s Jason Schrier obtained and released casting documents from an unnamed source confirming that the game would be set in Boston and that the player character would be played for the first time. Fans were excited, but Bethesda wasn’t too happy, immediately blacklisting Kotaku from their coverage and refusing to answer questions or provide review copies of any of their future games.
4. Mass Effect 3
Sometimes leaks are not the result of a malevolent conspiracy, but simply human error. In November of 2011, someone at Microsoft took a beta version of Mass Effect 3 that was intended for internal testing and just…uploaded it to Xbox Live for anyone to download and play. Needless to say, fans freaked out, especially since the game saw some major changes. Most notable was the inclusion of three separate modes: Action, Story, and RPG, allowing players to choose which type of experience they found most engaging. BioWare actually made lemonade out of these lemons, as player feedback on the unfinished game was used to further refine it before release.
5. Half Life 2
It’s easy to forget that before Valve was a massively dominant force in digital game distribution, it was just a humble development studio creating one of the most anticipated first-person shooters of all time. In September 2003, it was preparing for the Christmas release of Half-Life 2 when German hacker Axel Gembe infiltrated the company’s internal network and leaked the game’s beta code to the public, revealing that it was nowhere near complete yet. be completed four days before the game. was scheduled to ship. Valve caught on immediately and went into damage control mode. It ended up delaying the game until November of the next year, a move that was estimated to cost the company $250 million. Gembe was arrested in a sting operation in 2004 and sentenced to four years probation.
6. Super Smash Bros.
The Entertainment Software Review Board is a monolithically powerful group that, under strict secrecy, evaluates and rates games so that parents know what is appropriate for their children. But even the ESRB is fallible, and in August 2014, shortly before the release of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, a 4chan poster showed just how much. A series of images showed off the full roster for the game, including unrevealed characters, the stage selection screen, and more. The smoking gun? Player 1’s name was “ESRB0083”. How the Smash information got into the wild is still unknown, but skeptics were quickly silenced when the finished game matched the leaked materials almost exactly.
In November 2020, a group of hackers using the Ragnar Locker ransomware revealed that they had gained access to Capcom’s internal development servers and seized more than a terabyte of source code for some of the most notable games in the game. company, including several previously unreleased Resident Evil titles. The group demanded $11 million to decrypt the data it left behind, but Capcom didn’t pay, and it wasn’t long before people on the internet were reviewing design documents, development builds, and more throughout the company’s history. . The malware was able to gain access through an outdated VPN server that was serving as a backup unit while the company upgraded its network.
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Getting a behind-the-scenes look at Nintendo has been a gamer’s dream for decades, but when an anonymous 4Chan user downloaded a massive amount of data in 2020, it was a nightmare for the company. This data wasn’t just upcoming games, it also included the source code for Nintendo consoles and even unreleased prototype games like Star Fox 2. The data was spread across 10 individual releases larger than 3GB, but some estimate more than 2 TB of information was actually collected from the company. The release was a boon to historians, emulator developers, and other Nintendo fans.
9. Cyberpunk 2077
Cd Projekt RED’s futuristic RPG was… a little rough at launch, but things picked up for the game after some solid patches. And then the unthinkable happened when a hacker managed to break into their network and obtain copies of the game’s source code along with a bunch of other projects. The perpetrator tried to auction it off on the dark web, but before long the cyberpunk 2077 the source code had been released. Hacking group HelloKitty claimed responsibility for the move and threatened the developer with the disclosure of other inside information if a ransom was not paid.
10. Gears of War 3
Before Fortnite, Gears of war was Epic’s big money maker, and expectations were high for the release of the third installment in 2011. But in July of that year, just a few months before the game’s release, an unfinished version appeared on torrent sites. and was widely downloaded and streamed. And that build…was pretty bad. There was speculation that the version was stolen from the developers at E3 that year, and Epic was quick to pounce to say that it did not represent the current state of the game.
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