GTA leaks may delay game release

The hacker might have acquired the source code of the upcoming Grand Theft Auto 6 video game, which has been leaked online. The consequences could be dire if this data falls into the hands of the wrong people, experts warn.

The leak of multiple videos of the upcoming GTA 6 video game, first posted on GTAforums by a user called “teapotuberhacker,” shows various game features, such as character movement and conversations.

Although social media exploded in wonder at how the graphics could be so primitive, it is clear that the videos are of the game in early development and very much still in progress. But the problem for Rockstar Games is a very real possibility that the hacker has stolen source codes for the GTA 5 and 6 games.

Some experts warn that, if true, GTA Online, hugely popular among fans, might be essentially ruined forever because the market could be flooded with exploits to cheat on both consoles and PC.

Source code is a kind of a “master key” to a game and enables programmers and modders to quite literally do anything they want to the game. For example, they could create hacks that can be used for online play, most likely in a malicious or disruptive way.

To be clear, for now the hacker is calling any sale of the GTA 6 source code off-limits. The leaker allegedly wants to strike a deal with Rockstar Games so that he can get money for silence.

Rockstar confirmed the leak in a statement on Monday. “At this time, we do not anticipate any disruption to our live game services nor any long-term effect on the development of our ongoing projects,” the company said.

Yet delays in developing a long-awaited GTA 6 are virtually guaranteed, an experienced software engineer currently dealing with the consequences of an infamous Uber breach just a few days ago told Cybernews.

“A developer is perfectly happy to develop a new platform if others don’t know how it works. But if other people do know how it works because of the source code, it’s really much harder for the creator to protect the process. If previously hackers had to overcome various hurdles and do a lot of research, they don’t need to do that now,” he said.

The engineer thinks Rockstar Games will now probably have to invest a lot of resources into protecting the existing data or re-engineering source code — as long as selling the source code for GTA 6 to malignant actors remains a possibility.

This, in turn, means that the game that hasn’t even been released could be forced back several years. Leaks happen in games, but they usually hit finished projects, when, for example, a lucky early reviewer shares footage and breaks an NDA before the official launch.

“They will definitely have to recheck all the security measures just to be sure. On the other hand, I’m quite sure their defenses did exist so Rockstar will definitely not have to start from scratch. Games are always looked after anyway, it’s not like they’re released and the developer forgets it and moves onto new projects,” he said.

On 4 February 2022, Rockstar confirmed that the development of a new entry in the GTA game series was “well underway.” An exact release date was never made public but could now be pushed further until the company readjusts.

The hacker also claims they got access to the videos and the source code of the game by phishing a Rockstar employee and then grabbing data from their Slack account. Some experts say current work-from-home benefits for developers could be at least partially revoked to prevent issues like this from ever arising again — and not only at Rockstar.

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