The GTA 6 leak is among the biggest in industry history, especially with the GTA 6 release date announcement hopefully coming this year. It’s difficult to remember a larger release of gameplay footage or documentation for any game, let alone one as anticipated as Grand Theft Auto 6. But without meaning to lecture or condescend, it’s difficult to see who wins here. Rockstar Games has had its most significant launch in history essentially ruined, the leaker themselves is likely to become a target for very punitive legal action from Take-Two, and as for GTA fans themselves, well, so far as I can tell, we haven’t really learned anything new. Even if we have, we’ve learned it in a way that looks kind of lousy and feels morally dubious.
I’ll start with Rockstar. At a corporate level, Rockstar Games will be okay – people are still going to buy the next Grand Theft Auto. But I’m imagining what it’s like to be someone who simply works there, whose efforts for the past who knows how many years have just been squandered across the internet, and who today, tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future, is likely facing a much more intense working environment. Game development is tough work, and even if it weren’t, it’s still work. The idea of somebody stealing something that myself and my colleagues have been working on for years, and then showing it to the whole world while we can only watch from the sidelines, sounds like a nightmare.
Yes, Rockstar Games as an entity will be fine. But there’s a lot of people working there right now – just decent working stiffs, not to be too saccharine about it – who are about to have a terrible day, terrible week, terrible month, just because someone decided that people needed to see some old footage of a game that we already know almost everything about. I can see why some folks want to stick it to big business or whatever, but as soon as you start making life harder for people who are just clocking in, working hard, and earning a salary, I’m out.
I don’t know as much about the leaker. I don’t know precisely who they are or why they decided to leak all this stuff, besides some claims they’ve allegedly made about being willing to exchange the hacked materials for money. But again, I don’t see how they win here – and I certainly see how they might lose. I think everyone can. Sudden fame; the attention of the entire gaming world, and perhaps beyond, suddenly upon you; responsible for the biggest leak in videogame history – I wouldn’t want to be that person right now. I suspect they have some difficult days ahead, and all to leak some old footage of a game that tells us little we didn’t already know and which is bound to come out eventually anyway. Is it worth it?
I guess what it comes down to – the way a lot of people might weigh this up – is the value that the leaks have for the fans. Is it worth employees at Rockstar Games going through what they’re likely going through if GTA 6 fans get to see this gameplay footage? Is it likewise worth it for the leaker? Is showing all this stuff to the world worth the risk of the consequences they may face? Frankly, even if these gameplay videos showed a completely new Grand Theft Auto, that no-one knew anything about; if they showed Grand Theft Auto 7, Grand Theft Auto 8; if they revealed a crossover between GTA 6, Starfield, Half-Life 3, and a new Silent Hill – no, they wouldn’t be worth it, and they especially aren’t worth it considering what they show is just a bunch of stuff that’s already been reported. Vice City. We knew about this. Two protagonists, one male, one female, with a Bonnie and Clyde dynamic. We knew this. Missions based on robberies. We knew this.
I don’t see anything here, apart from a few insignificant mechanics (which everyone might have imagined would feature in Grand Theft Auto 6 anyway) that I haven’t read about or seen essentially confirmed by Rockstar insiders already. Whatever opinion fans might have on GTA 6 as a result of these leaks is likely to be the same opinion they would have had once the game was officially revealed by Rockstar. This leak has achieved nothing except show us things perhaps a year or two ahead of schedule. What it might cause, however, are delays in GTA 6’s launch, an increased reticence from Rockstar to be forthcoming with information in the future, a greater sense of divide between the developer and its fans which impacts that relationship and communication in the future.
And so again, I don’t see what the win is here, apart from a fleeting excitement at seeing the game – once you realise it’s basically all as we expected, the buzz doesn’t last long. Half-made, illegally obtained, and undermined by moral quandaries and legal complications is not how I wanted to first see GTA 6. Even and especially for fans of GTA, these leaks aren’t worth it – there are no winners here.
If you’re interested in GTA 6, you might also want to try some of the other best sandbox games or maybe some of the best action-adventure games, plenty to keep you busy until an official announcement from Rockstar.