ANDIt’s been a gigantic week for video game news. Nintendo announced the release date of another Legend of Zelda game (now titled Tears of the Kingdom, certainly on May 5, 2023). no deliberate reference to the death of the queen); we saw the new trailer for God of War: Ragnarok, in which Toby Ziegler from The West Wing yells at Kratos; and we found out that the beloved shooter N64 GoldenEye 007 is finally back. But things were eclipsed on Sunday when the hacker released over 50 minutes of Grand Theft Auto VI footage stolen from Rockstar’s internal Slack channel. The hacker claims that he also owns the game’s source code. This, along with the theft of Half-Life 2’s source code from Valve in 2003, is one of the biggest data leaks in video game history. Here is the explanation if you want to know all the details. This is Grand Theft Grand Theft Auto.
Rockstar confirmed the leak late Monday, saying a third party had illegally downloaded sensitive information, including material from the early development of the next Grand Theft Auto. “Right now,” said Rockstar, “we don’t anticipate any disruptions to our live gaming services or any long-term impact on the development of our ongoing projects.”
The leaked footage shows animation tests, level layouts, and one robbery mission featuring the main character (first in the series) and her associates. It also shows contemporary Vice City, the Miami Rockstar version. Debug commands and technical information are clearly laid over everything – voice action is in place, but the game isn’t even close to completion. This leak will disrupt multi-year marketing planning: Grand Theft Auto VI has been in development in some form since 2014. It also represents a financial loss for the publisher as investigations have been initiated and plans have collapsed.
Aside from these things, such a leak will affect your perception of the game. Unfinished video games almost universally look and feel like garbage, because game development is a delicate choreography between about 200 different dancers who only meet at the very end. If you had a glimpse of, say, Red Dead Redemption 2 or Assassin’s Creed up to six months before their completion, and weren’t aware of the last sprint that provided all the proper visuals, sound effects, and bug fixes, you’d probably think it’s rubbish. Some of the uninformed opinions about the GTA violation on social media are so blindingly silly they ask for faith, from “Now someone has stolen the source code, maybe he can do a better job in the game than Rockstar” to “Creators so lazy deserve a leak.” I like this.”
This is extremely demoralizing for video game developers. It’s like hacking a novelist’s laptop and stealing the first draft, and then publishing parts of it online. I’m not the kind of person who mourns the loss of corporate profits, but I can’t help but sympathize with the people making this video game – which, if it’s similar to what Rockstar has made before, will be one of the most complex and ambitious game development projects ever was taken.
That comes at a strange moment for Rockstar as well: since Grand Theft Auto V was released in 2013 and broke all sales records, co-founder Dan Houser has moved on. (His brother, Sam, remains president of the company.) In 2016, another founding member, Leslie Benzies, sued the company for tens of millions of royalties denied, claiming he had been forced to pull out. While creating the incredibly detailed Red Dead Redemption 2, there were allegations about working conditions in his studios, particularly with Rockstar Lincoln, which has dealt with quality assurance, notoriously one of the most relentless areas of game development. The developer that produced GTA V no longer exists and there is so much waiting for GTA VI. It is hard to imagine that this leakage will not damage the trust of employees.
Will Rockstar announce its schedule now? While it cannot accelerate development, it can speed up your marketing machine – then it will be easier to get excited about it.
What can I play
It’s finally here! Return to Monkey Island takes us back to the golden age of Lucasarts point-and-click comedy. I plan to launch it as soon as I finish writing this newsletter, after reading Oliver Holmes’ review: “The result of an old team reuniting is a story that maps old paths, but also clearly wants to be more than just an ode to a bygone era of gaming video. When [adorably shambolic pirate Guybrush] Threepwood seeks advice from the oracle, Mrs. Voodoo, who sums up the game’s paradox: “You must walk the path, and you have walked the path.” Return to Monkey Island makes this possible by looking back and forth at the same time, reminding us that a point-and-click adventure will never really die: it’s a zombie pirate who won’t stay in the ground for long. ”
Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch
Average play time: 7-11 hours
What to read
In addition to the trailer and release date for the next Zelda, last week’s Nintendo Direct showcase provided some surprises. These include Pikmin 4, a game that has been in development for so long that I was convinced it no longer exists. If you’ve never played this weird and rather heart-breaking game about miniature alien plants trying to survive in the frighteningly dangerous gardens of our planet, you’ll have a chance next year.
GoldenEye 007 is back! Hurrah! Except that online multiplayer is only available on Nintendo Switch, and the 4K graphics update will only apply to the Xbox version. I haven’t seen the kind of feature in years that must be the result of intricate licensing discussions. Bonus fact: GoldenEye 007 was reworked years ago for the Xbox 360 but was never released.
The arena fight, League of Legends, hired the unparalleled gay pop star Lil Nas X as its new CEO as a marketing ploy, and I have to reluctantly admit that this celebrity partnership is actually very fun.
The Sims 4 will be available for free starting in October, which will no doubt draw even more helpless teens and students into this devilishly compulsive mix of life management and home design. The Sims 2 was responsible for nearly failing my final exams, so good luck to them.
Wordle last Friday managed to infuriate absolutely everyone with its solution: parer – a word that even the autocorrect of my phone, with its pathological need to make every sentence I write on my phone, turn into a salad of words, he considers true. If you’ve been furious, know you’re not alone: The New York Times just tweeted this 41% of gamers actually solved it, compared to the usual 99%.
Great news for fans of open-world action games set in Japan: in addition to the new Assassin’s Creed, there are also three new Yakuza games from Sega: Yakuza 8, next in a long line of Tokyo gangster epics; spinoff game on a smaller scale; and Like a Dragon: Ishin, a remake of the PS3 game that brings Yakuza back to Kyoto from the 1860s. Unfortunately, I haven’t found the 1000 hours needed to complete all the existing Yakuza games yet – the last one I actually finished was Yakuza 2, er, 2006. Another interesting detail: after nearly two decades, Sega is abandoning Yakuza in the west and the series will now be known as Like and Dragon, which is closer to the Japanese title.
What to click
Grand Theft Auto 6 leak: who hacked Rockstar and what was stolen?
The Nintendo DS was more than just a console – it’s part of my family history – Dominik Diamond
Splatoon 3 Review – Nintendo’s new squid game is fun as ink
Return to Monkey Island Review – This return game is not only a rerun of the biggest hits
Block of questions
This week there is no question block as this week’s number is already gigantic, but please send me questions, especially dumb questions. You can do this by clicking on the answer in this newsletter. To next week!