'Leaked' Starfield image turns out to be AI-generated fake

Image for 'Leaked' Starfield image turns out to be AI-generated fake
(Image credit: Bethesda?)

On Reddit today, someone posted what they claimed was a leaked screenshot from an upcoming Starfield cinematic trailer. They deleted the post, but that's the image above. If it were a genuine leak, it'd be a pretty crappy one, but it isn't even that.

The image was created with the Midjourney image generator, according to another Reddit poster, whose proof is a clear, unedited version of the image which they credit to "Jessyplayford."

The original image used in the "leak," which was supposedly generated by Midjourney. (Image credit: RuleOf72I/Jessyplayford)

The "leaked" image was made to look like a blurry off-screen photo—all good videogame leaks are snapped while jogging by someone's monitor—and the Jodie Foster-esque character looks kind of like a character who appeared in the 15-minute Starfield gameplay reveal last year. Aside from looking like it could be a genuine Starfield image, what made the fake leak somewhat convincing is that it didn't actually reveal anything. It's easy to accept that something's a leak if nothing of consequence was actually leaked.

This is surely only the start of a new kind of shenanigans. Making fake gaming leaks is an internet pastime—Half-Life 3 has been a particularly popular target—but it used to take a good amount of skill and effort to pull off something convincing. Now it takes little of either, meaning we could soon be inundated with this nonsense. I'm already pining for the days when hoaxers had to really try to fool people—back when lying was an honest day's work!

We already had to approach internet media skeptically, but it was at least reasonable to sometimes think: "This must be real, because why would anyone put so much effort into faking something so stupid?" Not anymore. The other day, someone made it sound like Todd Howard promised hardcore sex in The Elder Scrolls 6 just for a laugh. No one took that seriously, of course, but what do we do if fakes start to crowd out real stuff?

The fake Starfield image wasn't received very seriously, either, but plenty assumed it was real, and it stirred up speculation about the game's release date. The original "leaker" claimed that Starfield will release in October, and obviously we can't take their word for anything, but I regret to say that I do think it's a good guess. Bethesda previously said that Starfield will release in the first half of this year, but it still hasn't announced a date for the showcase it promised. Smells like a fall release date to me.

I did discover some genuine Starfield details recently by going back and watching past interviews with Todd Howard and other developers. It's old stuff, obviously, but it was new to me. Did you know, for example, that you can have parents in Starfield, and you can visit them? Chris also recently broke down some convincing fan theories about what the main quest is going to entail.

I've contacted Bethesda to see if it has any comment on the "leaked" image.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.