The idea of a video game leak might be met with some amount of excitement from fans. After all, it is often their first snippet of a highly anticipated title. But recently, these leaks have become increasingly intense and severe. It has gotten to the point where the entire concept of leaks should be met with a lot of disdain, even from hardcore video game fans.
As we’ve seen with the recent leaks done to Rockstar and Insomniac, the damage of these leaks cannot be understated. This includes not just the sheer loss of money involved in their mitigation and recovery. But also the sheer emotional and mental toll this exacts on the people who work tirelessly on these games. Only to have them be revealed in less-than-ideal ways.
Because of this, despite the small amounts of hype these leaks end up generating, gamers need to realize that ultimately, they do more harm than good. It’s safe to say they’re one of the biggest threats to the industry right now. These leaks benefit just about no one, not even the fans who might like seeing these early snippets of new content. Here’s why.
The Cost Of It All
While there are tons of disadvantages to having your game leaked, perhaps the most massive to some is the price tag. After all, it’s the easiest and most approachable way to see just how much a leak occurring can cost a Triple-A studio. Well, because of the GTA 6 leak that happened at Rockstar, we actually have some definitive numbers.
In the court case that followed the massive leak, Rockstar claimed that the leak cost them about 5 million dollars. And that’s not all. During the proceedings, the company argued that recovering from the fallout of the leak needed thousands of hours of staff time. This is time that could otherwise have been spent on the development of the game itself.
So the real loss involved here is likely even more than the 5 million quoted by Rockstar. It’s worth noting that the GTA 6 leak stands as one of the most notorious in video game history. Arion Kurtaj, a leaker who’s affiliated with the international hacking group Lapsus$, had posted over 90 screenshots and videos of an early build of GTA 6. This was all the way back in September 2022, when the development of the title was barely announced.
So it makes sense why a leak of this severity resulted in such a huge loss of both money and time for Rockstar. While other leaks might not be as massive, they are still nothing to scoff at. Especially because of how rampant they have become lately. Triple-A studios have especially been targets, with Marvel’s Wolverine also being one of the games that had important details revealed.
The Toll On The Employees
Video game development wasn’t exactly the most welcoming space to begin with. Most devs have complained about the issues that already plague the industry. Things such as crunch time, low pay, and generally poor working environments, have left many developers frustrated. But to add to all of this, developers now have to worry about leaks occurring too.
Now, it’s one thing to have snippets of an unreleased game shown to the public. Of course, that’s pretty bad too, but at least it’s only kept to the contents of the game. As we’ve seen in recent leaks, like the one faced by Insomniac recently, the more malicious leaking groups end up targeting employees too. This attack was carried out by the Rhysida ransomware group.
— Insomniac Games (@insomniacgames) December 22, 2023
They demanded 2 million dollars from the company and ended up releasing over 1.3 million files. These files had crucial and sensitive employee information, including their personal details. It doesn’t need to be said, but this makes an already difficult industry even more hostile for newcomers. No one would like to step into a job, that’s already super competitive, but now, also really dangerous.
And this can be a terrible thing for the industry as a whole. With new developers shying away from going into video game development because of the general leak of safety, the industry could be headed towards a serious leak of developers in the coming years. Of course, it’s possible that this issue will end up getting mitigated with enough action. But there’s no denying the mental stress that still persists among developers.
And This Sucks For Players Too
As I said, while the idea of getting a first look at an anticipated game sounds enticing, ultimately, gamers don’t benefit from seeing leaks. For one, these leaks negatively impact development time. Because of this, the final quality of a title might end up suffering because the company was too busy dealing with malicious external attacks from ransomware groups.
But even if leaks don’t end up massively damaging development, they often don’t do justice to the game being made. More often than not, the builds that get leaked are very early in development. These are not meant to be seen by players, primarily because they do not reflect the final product. However, gamers might still take a look at them, and formulate their first impressions.
Not everyone has the understanding required to understand the final product is still probably years away. And this can negatively influence their opinion on a title that they might have otherwise liked. We’ve seen this happen with GTA 6, with people calling out the gameplay of the original leaks when they appeared in September 2022. It has occurred more recently too.
Gamers have already been up in arms about the Wolverine leak. Many feel like Insomniac’s up-and-coming title, doesn’t really evoke the spark or interest they were expecting from it. But of course, many are failing to consider the fact that they’re looking at a version of the game that’s not only far from finished, but most likely barely functional.
Game Over For Leakers
It’s unlikely that video game leaking is a problem that will resolve itself overnight. But there’s no doubt that companies understand the sheer damage these can cause. And they’re taking action accordingly. As you might have seen with the GTA 6 leak, Arion Kurtaj, the leaker in question, was recently sentenced to a lifetime in a hospital prison.
Rockstar was quite vocal about the problems the company had to face as a result of these leaks. While some folks feel like the sentence handed to Kurtaj was a bit overkill, it still goes to show that companies are not pulling their punches. It will likely serve as an example to other leakers that they will not only end up getting prosecuted but also sentenced really harshly.
Still, there is still probably a long while before video game leaks, at least the ones of this severity become a thing of the post. But if gamers are more vocal about their dislike for the concept in general, things might change. Especially if other companies take action just as Rockstar has. As it is, because of the profit incentive, things might end up getting worse, before they get better.
Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡
How could we improve this post? Please Help us. ✍