The recent GTA VI leak is considered one of the most consequential events in the industry, which is to be expected from a follow-up product to the most profitable entertainment release. But at this point, game leaks are close to being commonplace. Anyone close to GameDev, professionally or recreationally, could have seen it coming simply based on the rich history of leaks.
Half-Life 2 (2004), a first-person shooter and the second installment of the Half-Life fiction universe, was created by Valve, recently booted off Steam after nefariously naming its company Very Positive. The hacker posted the source code, which represented about a third of the total game.
The leak pushed back the release a few months, which was perceived as a convenient excuse for the game’s slipping schedule by players. The most recent reports show the game sold over 12 million copies.
Gears of War 3
Gears of War 3, a third-person shooter and the final harrowing tale of hope and survival in the trilogy, was developed by Epic Games, known for its commercially successful game engine and, now, Fortnite. The torrent 2011 leak showed an unfinished build, as well as info on the full campaign and multiplayer modes.
Epic Games said the build was not representative of the final game, and Microsoft commented that they were working with law enforcement. Luckily for both, the game drew the big franchise crowd and sold 3 million copies in the first weeks alone.
Fallout 4, a post-apocalyptic, role-playing, open-world game about the sole survivor of Vault 111 in search of their missing child, was developed by Bethesda Game Studios, responsible for some of the highest-selling games known to the industry. The leaked content revealed some of the script and setting.
Vice president Pete Hines was “upset” with the leaks and refused to answer a single question about them. But arguably, the more upset party was the online community.
With plenty of time between the leak and the release, F4 sold over 13 million.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV, a dark tale packaged into field exploration and combat (RPG), was developed by Square Enix, one of Japan’s most prolific video game studios. Due to the leak, users learned about major negative story consequences and, most importantly, the entire ending.
The director Hajime Tabata made a statement asking anyone who had an unauthorized copy to “spoil the surprises for everyone,” but spoilers dispersed at lightning speed. The sales hit more than 9.5 million copies worldwide.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2, an action-adventure game about America’s unforgiving heartland, was created by Rockstar Studios, known for some of the most successful, controversial, and innovative games. A series of leaks over the course of three years showed an astounding number of details, from gameplay to plot.
There were so many leaks that users said they were coming “every year with allergy season.” And Trusted Reviews, a resource that leaked the confidential document, agreed to pay a hefty donation as an apology. Results? Forty-five million units sold.
The Last Of Us Part II
Five years after the events of The Last of Us, the two leads embark on another journey in The Last Of Us Part II, made possible by an elite developer Naughty Dog with a controversial co-president Neil Druckmann. A YouTube leak showed massive spoilers—major plot details and pivotal cutscenes.
ND asked people to ignore the leaks, and Sony maintained a narrative that it was not an employee or contractor responsible for the incident. The game eventually hit a milestone of 10 million units.
An untitled Grand Theft Auto (sixth installment) will supposedly feature the series’ first female protagonist, and the two leads are rumoured to be heading back to Vice City. But that’s not nearly the end of it; the hack turned out to be one of the most revealing leaks.
Development is back to “business as usual.”
Following the GTA leak, Neil Druckmann shared a wholesome message to developers on Twitter: