GSC Game World says Russian hackers are leaking Stalker 2 test builds, please don't look at them

Stalker 2 trailer still
(Image credit: GSC Game World)

Stalker 2 developer GSC Game World says that Russian hackers have gained access to internal test builds of the upcoming FPS Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl, and have begun leaking the stolen material to the public.

"Our team has identified a vulnerability exploited by a group of Russian hackers attacking the company for almost a year and a half," the Ukrainian studio said on Twitter. "Unfortunately, they were able to access and compromise some of our leaked information intended for internal testing of various game aspects.

"As for now, we kindly ask stalkers and those who want to join the Zone in the future not to look at or share any leaked materials from the game. Although these materials are only used for testing purposes and are not release-ready, these leaks may ruin your experience of exploring the Zone by yourself."

GSC Game World didn't say whether this attack is connected to the one reported in March, when hackers threatened to use the data they'd taken "for blackmail and intimidation," and there's no way to confirm whether the hackers are actually Russian. 

But the timeline fits—in March, the studio said it had been dealing with "constant cyberattacks" for more than a year, now "almost a year and a half"—and images and other files taken during the hack were shared by the same account on the Russian social media platform VK.

(Image credit: GSC Game World)

It's also possible the VK account is only being used as a distribution channel: One Google-translated message refers to "the contribution of our administrator to the spread of this leak," suggesting they weren't actually responsible for making it happen. It also says "the Americans were the first to find it," while Daniil Nexus, the group administrator in question, was "one of the first" to run across it in that particular community, and brought in someone else to crack the stolen code.

The apparent discovery of a vulnerability being exploited by hackers hopefully means the hole is plugged, but if the hackers are indeed Russian, it's not likely to end the attacks. As a Ukrainian studio, GSC Game World is a high-profile target for Russian hackers and gamers, and there's unquestionably a political aspect to it. In August 2022 a purportedly unreleased console port of the original Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl was leaked by an aggrieved Russian streamer unhappy about, among other things, the studio raising money to help train and equip Ukrainian soldiers fighting against the Russian invasion.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.