A random American sidewalk surrounded by planters. Police sirens blare in the background. A man in shorts, tank top and cap runs resolutely towards a woman. „You don’t have to do this”, it sounds. But the man hits her hard in the face with his right fist. “Oh shit,” she says, and she runs off. One bystander yells “screw you!”, but other passers-by go on with their lives — nothing to worry about here.
Who ever a game from the video game series Grand Theft Auto (GTA) will recognize the style of the images immediately. These are the first images of the long-awaited new part, GTA VI, which were put online by a hacker on Sunday. They are unpolished, with bugs ubiquitous and the code that plays out on the screen in real time. But they do provide a unique insight into the development of one of the most successful game series ever. With 169 million copies sold, the most recent version, GTA V from 2013, only Minecraft as the best-selling game ever.
The leak is so unique that many immediately questioned its authenticity, but sources confirmed to financial news agency Bloomberg on Monday that the images are authentic.
The perpetrator also claimed to have hacked Uber last week, although that cannot be verified. An 18-year-old hacker then gained access to the technology company’s internal systems; simply by pretending to be a high-quality IT employee by SMS. The person who leaked images of the new GTA on Sunday wants to “make a deal,” he wrote.
The leaked images confirm the suspicions that have been around for some time about the long-awaited new GTA: ‘cultural sensitivity’ should be given higher priority. The main change is that for the first time, gamers can choose a female protagonist, a Latin American. The game’s developers also want to be more cautious with jokes about marginalized groups, Bloomberg said.
The staff of Rockstar Games, the studio that makes GTA, are stunned by the leak, according to Bloomberg. It is not yet clear what consequences it will have for the further development of the game, which is expected in 2024. Game developer Neil Druckmann encouraged his colleagues. On Twitter, he wrote: “We’ll be playing your game one day and this leak is nothing more than a footnote on a Wikipedia page.”
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of September 20, 2022