Developers offer Rockstar sympathy as the internet goes wild over GTA 6 leak

GTA 4 art
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

No developer takes its time like Rockstar Games. Every open world game it makes is more elaborate and takes longer to build than the last, and Grand Theft Auto 6, whenever it's done, will arrive at least 10 years after GTA 5. But for the first time we won't see the new Grand Theft Auto for the first time in a fastidiously manicured Rockstar trailer: Grand Theft Auto 6 leaked this weekend, and it leaked big

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A hacker obtained some 90 videos of an in-development build of GTA 6, and also claimed that they "could leak more data soon" including "GTA 5 and 6 source code and assets, GTA 6 testing build." In a statement on Monday, Rockstar confirmed the leak came from a "network intrusion."

"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. We are extremely disappointed to have any details of our next game shared with you all in this way. Our work on the next Grand Theft Auto game will continue as planned and we remain as committed as ever to delivering an experience to you, our players, that truly exceeds your expectations."

Reactions to the leak have taken over the gaming sphere since Sunday, with other game devs expressing sympathy for Rockstar, fans scrutinizing the content of the videos, and others speculating about how the leak happened. 

YouTuber and game developer Dimitris Giannakis, aka Modern Vintage Gamer, criticized Rockstar's past litigiousness in suing modders, but said he wasn't in favor of leaks as comeuppance and that fans shouldn't form opinions on the leaked footage, which seems to be largely from 2019.

Fans react to the quality and content of GTA 6's in-development footage

A thread about the leak on the gaming forum Resetera has already drawn more than 460,000 views and 4,000 responses, with many commenting that it looks surprisingly good for an alpha build. 

Comparisons between the game and the real world have started cropping up.

Some of the clips have confirmed that GTA 6 will be set in Vice City.

The memes are already flying fast and loose, too.

(Image credit: Twitter / Low Poly Depression)

Game devs sympathize with Rockstar

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Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann, whose games have leaked in the past, tweeted in support of Rockstar's staff: "To my fellow devs out there affected by the latest leak, know that while it feels overwhelming right now, it’ll pass… Keep pushing. Keep making art."

(Image credit: Twitter)

Cyberpunk 2077 quest designer Patrick Mills pushes back on the negative reactions to the footage, tweeting "I don't even get the stuff about the leaks looking bad. They don't?"

(Image credit: Twitter)

Mills' colleague, Cyberpunk 2077 quest director Pawel Sasko, tweeted that leaks create a "destructive cycle" of memes and analysis taken out of context. "Help to make it better and don't engage with leaks."

(Image credit: Twitter)

Bungie lawyer Don McGowan tweeted a show of support for the Rockstar lawyers who will now be chasing down the leak, and commented on the ramifications of a source code leak for cheating: "The impact this leak will have on cheat development is exactly why international criminal syndicates are paying for this," he wrote. Bungie has recently aggressively pursued legal action against Destiny cheaters.

Developers comment on GTA 6 leak

(Image credit: Twitter)

Indie developer Rami Ismail said that in-development games are often kept secret because of the harassment developers can face due to negative fan reactions: "Devs don't have an obsession with secrecy, we just prefer our job without being told we suck at it & should be maimed because of some placeholders." He suggested developers could help combat these negative reactions by releasing more work-in-progress footage of games after they've successfully launched.

One of the biggest hacks in gaming history?

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Bloomberg's Jason Schreier called the leak "one of the biggest in video game history" and said that "There are several reasons this is a nightmare for Rockstar. One is that it'll disrupt work for a while. Another is that it may lead management to limit work-from-home flexibility. The repercussions of this leak might not be clear for quite a while."

(Image credit: Twitter)

As huge as the leak is, it's not unprecedented: Half-Life 2's work-in-progress source code was famously stolen from Valve's servers in the early 2000s, and other big games including Doom 3 and a virtually complete Crysis 2 leaked before release. All of those games pale in comparison to GTA's cultural (and sales) footprint, however.

(Image credit: Twitter)

Yeah, I really wouldn't want to be that hacker right now.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).