A disgruntled pro-Russian online gamer community has hacked the Ukrainian-owned GSC Game World, stealing 30GB of materials and accusing the company of blatant anti-Russian sentiment.
The gamer group is now threatening to publish all the stolen materials from the company’s upcoming S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl sequel if GSC Game World does not meet several demands, including a formal apology for its “unworthy attitude towards ordinary players from these countries.”
GSC Game World confirmed the hack – carried out by the Herald of "The Same Stalker" player fan group – and responded to the blackmail demands on Twitter.
“We are a Ukrainian company, and like most Ukrainians, we have experienced many things that are much more terrifying: destroyed houses, ruined lives, and the deaths of our loved ones. Attempts to blackmail or intimidate us are completely futile,” a portion of the statement reads.
The GSC response kicked off a firestorm of continuous leaks about the game, posted by the hackers over the past 24 hours.
The “Herald of "The Same Stalker" player community page has been running on VK, a Russian social media network, since 2018.
Creator and apparent hacking leader ‘Nick Frost,’ posted the group’s manifesto on the VK network March 11, claiming to have stolen “tens of gigabytes” of data from GSC.
“As one of the most established communities in the stalker community, and certainly the most unique, we decided that we should intervene in the current situation,” the post states.
The group laid out its demands, which it expects GSC to meet by Wednesday, March 15.
The three demands: an apology and attitude adjustment towards players from Belarus and Russia; a reverse ban on the Nick Frost profile on Discord; and to bring back ru-localization, which would re-configure the Stalker games towards a Russian audience in the Russian language.
If not met, Frost claims the hacker protest group will release the stolen data in its entirely.
“We have a huge amount of materials on STALKER 2 on our hands, including a full-fledged story, cut-scenes description, various concept art, global maps and much more. The volume is calculated in tens of gigabytes,” it continued.
“Don't let the STALKER universe die because of your politicization - stagnation is already felt very seriously, which means it's time to build relationships with the community,” the manifesto states.
“We post part of it right away to show the authenticity of our words,” the group stated. Here is just one the dozens of images already leaked online.
The GSC Game World Team posted its formal response on the official Stalker Twitter page Sunday, in both Ukrainian and English.
GCS confirmed in the statement that the hacked employee account contained a collection of images that are outdated and/or a work in progress.
GSC said it has been enduring constant cyberattacks for more than a year, including “acts of aggression, hacks, attempts to hurt players and fans, and efforts to damage the development process or the reputation of our company,” the company stated.
"Our unwavering commitment to supporting our country remains unchanged. We will continue to do everything possible to support Ukraine. And this won't change in the future under any circumstances," the statement said.
"Despite the attempt to break us, we remain strong and courageous," said GSC.
The GSC game, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, is a fourth installment and next-gen sequel to the original PC Stalker franchise.
It is described by the Ukrainian developer and publisher as an upcoming first-person shooter survival horror video game.
GSC is asking fans to refrain from looking at the leaks and that they are overwhelmed with the “response and support” they have received from their “loyal community.”
Herald of The Same Stalker claims they are being “friendly” in attitude and will not ruin the game for other Stalker fans by leaking materials that would “give plot spoilers.”
On Sunday, a day after the hack and publication of materials, Frost posted “the number of our subscribers increased by a thousand people at once, up to 8.1k,.”
At the time of writing, the group appears to have almost double that amount, at 15,000 followers, with many showing support on the group's wall.
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