In a cybernetic tale that sounds more like a plot from a Grand Theft Auto mission, Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive found themselves facing a nefarious adversary who breached its guarded secrets and laid bare its highly anticipated entry, Grand Theft Auto 6, in an online spectacle that stunned the gaming world.
This was the community's first glimpse of a game that Rockstar had confirmed was under development but had kept in the dark for the better part of the past decade. The ensuing excitement was understandable, with fans dissecting every second of the footage to harvest any useful morsels of information. The revelation of dual protagonists, including the franchise's first female lead, and the return to Vice City, were just two of the many things that had fans excited about what was coming.
The mastermind behind the leak, as per London prosecutors, is a teenager named Arion Kurtaj. This 18-year-old, part of the hacking collective Lapsus$, has been accused of hacking into Rockstar Games, Uber, and other companies. It was a crime of immense magnitude, cracking the protective shell of large corporations, and sparking a whirlwind of questions surrounding data security.
However, the tale veers off the familiar script of the master hacker standing trial for their digital heist. In a twist befitting a noir detective drama, Kurtaj has been deemed unfit for trial after being assessed by psychiatrists. This leaves the jury with the task of determining whether he executed the acts he's accused of, rather than delivering a traditional verdict of guilt or innocence. The charges against Kurtaj are hefty, including three counts of blackmail, two counts of fraud, and six charges under the Computer Misuse Act.
Not everyone agrees with the official account of events. Contrary to the widespread hacking narrative, some believe no actual hacking happened. Instead, Kurtaj "merely" manipulated Rockstar employees through social engineering, convincing them of his identity as a coworker, and thus gaining access to coveted data.
It's just as nefarious, when you think about it. Imagine being able to trick the employees of billion-dollar companies just like that. But, it's not as impressive as actually hacking into their database.
Adding another layer to the narrative, beyond hacking Rockstar, Kurtaj is also suspected of cyber-attacks on other companies. He allegedly targeted Revolut, Uber, and Nvidia, and attempted to extort a staggering $4 million ransom from the British broadband provider BT Group. The breadth and audacity of these alleged acts signal a new era of cyber threats, where even the most fortified digital fortresses may not be safe.
Despite the tumultuous turn of events, Rockstar Games appears to be weathering the storm. The leaked material, though a cause for concern, is not expected to halt or significantly alter the development of Grand Theft Auto VI. The game's release date is still shrouded in mystery, with the latest leaks suggesting that it'll be available as early as next year if not two years from now.
Regardless of the outcome or whatever happened, the event has cemented its place in gaming history. It's easily one of the best leaks ever, albeit one that has drawn its fair share of rightful flack.
Meanwhile, Rockstar Games, the enigmatic developer at the epicenter of this controversy, remains silent, working hard on the next installment of its beloved franchise.
The last we heard, GTA 6 is expected to make at least a billion days into its launch, surpassing the recent numbers posted by Hogwarts Legacy and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, as well as the all-time numbers posted by its latest predecessor. Whether or not this will happen remains to be seen. But, if you're itching to play GTA again, the 2013 installment is back on the Xbox Game Pass. A team over at Rockstar is also believed to be working on a remaster of Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto 4 for modern consoles, both of which were reportedly canceled due to the botched launch of the GTA Remastered trilogy.