IIt’s been a giant week for video game news. Nintendo has announced a May 5, 2023 release date for the next Legend of Zelda game (now titled Tears of the Kingdom, certainly not an intentional reference to the Queen’s death); we saw a new trailer for God of War: Ragnarok in which Toby Ziegler of The West Wing yells at Kratos; and we learned that the beloved N64 shooter GoldenEye 007 is finally back. But that was all overshadowed on Sunday, when a hacker posted over 50 minutes of Grand Theft Auto VI in-development footage, stolen from Rockstar’s internal Slack channel. The hacker also claims to be in possession of 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 breaches in video game history. Here is an explainer, if you want to familiarize yourself with all the details. It’s Grand Theft Grand Theft Auto.
rock star confirmed the leak late Monday, claiming that a third party had illegally uploaded confidential information, including early development footage for the upcoming Grand Theft Auto. “At this time,” Rockstar said, “we do not anticipate any disruption to our live game services or any long-term effects on the development of our ongoing projects.”
The leaked images show animation tests, level layouts and a flight mission, featuring a main protagonist (a first for the series) and her accomplices. It also shows a modern-day Vice City, Rockstar’s version of Miami. Debug commands and technical information are prominently displayed on everything – the voice acting is in place, but the game is far from over. This leak will have disrupted years of marketing planning: Grand Theft Auto VI has been in development in one form or another since 2014. It also represents a financial loss for the publisher, as investigations are launched and plans turned upside down.
Regardless of those things, a leak like this will affect how a game is perceived. Unfinished video games almost universally feel like trash, because game development is a delicate choreography between about 200 different dancers who only come together at the very end. If you had a preview of, say, Red Dead Redemption 2 or Assassin’s Creed even six months before they were finished, and you weren’t aware of the final sprint that puts in all the good effects graphics and sound and bug fixes, you’d probably think that was garbage. Some of the uninformed takes on GTA violation on social media are so stupid they defy imagination, from “Now someone stole the source code, maybe they can make a better working with the game that Rockstar” to “Devs this sloth deserves a leak like this.”
This is extremely demoralizing for video game creators. It’s like hacking into a novelist’s laptop and stealing a first draft, then posting excerpts online. I’m not one to bemoan a loss of corporate profits, but I can’t help but resent the people making this video game – which, if it’s anything like Rockstar has done before, will be one most complex and ambitious. game development projects ever undertaken.
It also comes at a strange time for Rockstar: since Grand Theft Auto V released in 2013 and broke all sales records, co-founder Dan Houser has moved on. (His brother, Sam, remains chairman of the company.) In 2016, another founding member, Leslie Benzies, sued the company for tens of millions in denied royalties, claiming he had been kicked out. During the extremely detailed development of Red Dead Redemption 2, there were allegations of working conditions at its studios, particularly at Rockstar Lincoln, which handled quality assurance, notoriously one of the toughest areas. most incessant game development. The developer who created GTA V no longer exists, and there’s so much anticipation for GTA VI. It is hard to imagine that this leak will not shake the confidence of employees.
Will Rockstar move their schedule forward now? While he can’t speed up development, he can speed up his marketing machine – at this point it will be rather easier to get excited about it.
what to play
It is finally here ! Back to Monkey Island takes us back to the golden days of point-and-click comedy games from Lucasarts. I’m about to kick it off as soon as I finish writing this newsletter, after reading Oliver Holmes’ review: “The result of the old team reuniting is a tale that retreads old paths but which is clearly meant to be more than just an ode to a bygone era of video games. [adorably shambolic pirate Guybrush] Threepwood goes to an oracle, Voodoo Lady, for advice. She sums up the paradox this game faces: “You have to follow the path, but you have already walked the path.” Return to Monkey Island achieves this by looking backwards and forwards at the same time, reminding us that point-and-click adventure will never truly die: it’s a zombie pirate that won’t stay in the ground for long.
Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch
Average playing time: 7-11 a.m.
What to read
Along with a trailer and a release date for the next Zelda, last week’s Nintendo Direct presentation delivered a few surprises. These include Pikmin 4, a game that had been in development for so long that I was convinced it no longer existed. If you’ve never played this weird and rather harrowing game about miniature alien plants trying to survive in the terrifyingly dangerous gardens of our planet, you’ll have the chance next year.
GoldenEye 007 returns! Hooray! Except online multiplayer is only available on the Nintendo Switch, and a 4K graphics upgrade will only apply to the Xbox version. I haven’t seen this kind of split functionality in years, and it must be the product of some torturous licensing conversations. Bonus fact: GoldenEye 007 was remade years ago for the Xbox 360, but was never released.
Arena battle game League of Legends has employed the inimitable gay pop star Lil Nas X as its new president as a marketing stunt, and I have to grudgingly admit that this celebrity content partnership is actually pretty funny.
The Sims 4 will be free to play from October, which will no doubt draw even more helpless teenagers and college students into its fiendishly compulsive mix of life management and home design. The Sims 2 was responsible for me failing my graduation exams, so good luck to them.
Last Friday’s Wordle managed to infuriate absolutely everyone with his solution: parry – a word that even my phone’s autocorrect, with its pathological need to turn every sentence I write on my phone into word salad, admits to being real. If you were furious, know that you are not alone: The New York Times tweeted that only 41% of players actually solved, compared to a usual 99%.
Good news for fans of open-world action games set in Japan: in addition to a new Assassin’s Creed, there are also three new Yakuza games coming from Sega: Yakuza 8, the next in the long line of epics of Tokyo gangsters; a spin-off game on a smaller scale; and Like a Dragon: Ishin, a remake of a PS3 game that transports Yakuza to 1860s Kyoto. I actually finished was Yakuza 2, in, uh, 2006. Another interesting tidbit: after almost two decades, Sega is dropping the Yakuza name in the west, and the series will now be known as Like a 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 dreadful ink fun
Return to Monkey Island review – this throwback game isn’t just a greatest hits revamp
Block of questions
There’s no question block this week because this week’s issue is already huge, but feel free to send me your questions, especially the silly ones. You can do this by clicking on reply on this newsletter. Until next week!