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Sep 18, 2022

Grand Theft Auto VI leak is a shock to video game studio Rockstar

Jack Tretton, chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., talks about the upcoming "Grand Theft Auto V" video game during the Sony Corp. E3 media event in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Monday, June 10, 2013.  Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

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A hacker published authentic, pre-release footage from development of Grand Theft Auto VI, the most anticipated video game from Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.

The cache of videos offers an extensive and unauthorized look at the making of one of biggest games in the industry. A leak of this scale is so rare that some people cast doubt on its authenticity when it emerged over the weekend, but people familiar with the game’s development said the videos are real. The footage provides an early and unpolished view of plans for Grand Theft Auto VI, though the final version will look much more refined, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private.

Take-Two issued requests for YouTube and other websites to remove the videos, citing a copyright claim, but not before they were widely disseminated. Rockstar Games, the Take-Two studio that makes Grand Theft Auto, confirmed the hack in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday. It blamed a “network intrusion” that allowed the hacker to download the content. Take-Two shares were down as much as 3.3 per cent on Monday.

The hacker posted dozens of never-before-seen videos from Grand Theft Auto VI on an online message board over the weekend. On the forum, the person suggested they were the same hacker who infiltrated Uber Technologies Inc. in a high-profile incident last week. The claim is unverified. The hacker indicated in a follow-up message about the upcoming Grand Theft Auto game, “I am looking to negotiate a deal,” and raised the prospect of publishing more internal information about the project.

The last Grand Theft Auto came out in 2013 and became the most valuable entertainment property, built on the sustained popularity of its companion online game. The upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI has been in development in some form since 2014, Bloomberg has reported. It will feature a playable female protagonist for the first time in the series and will be primarily set in a fictional version of Miami, Bloomberg reported. Take-Two acknowledged the game’s existence for the first time in February, a disclosure that quickly sent its stock surging 7 per cent.

Rockstar Games employees were stunned by the leak, the people familiar with the project said. Many were grappling with the implications of the event and how management would respond to it over the weekend. In the statement Monday, Rockstar expressed disappointment but said the hack would not affect development of the game or any others. “We do not anticipate any disruption to our live game service nor any long-term effect on the development of our ongoing projects,” Rockstar said in the statement.

In July, the video game maker Roblox Corp. accused a hacker of publishing stolen information in an attempt to extort the business. Neil Druckmann, co-president of Sony Group Corp.’s Naughty Dog who dealt with pre-release information about his game the Last of Us II, posted a message Sunday on Twitter seeking to reassure “my fellow devs out there affected by the latest leak.”