How video game leaks are harming the industry

In the light of GTA VI leak, we look at video game leaks from recent years and how they affect the industry.  

last of us part ii leak

Rockstar Games just suffered one of the biggest hacks of video game history. We look at similar leaks from recent years and how they affect the industry.  

Video game leaks are nothing new. In fact, they’re almost expected, especially for bigger games. Usually, they’re relatively small, such as a new look for a character rather than full plots or gameplay, but they’re nonetheless devastating for the developers. 

It’s also important to note that leaks can be used for marketing. While we’ll never know for sure which leaks were done by legit hackers and which were done by the studio to create hype, leaking material can be a very effective way to get more people interested in your game. 

Leaks are very harmful for the industry in general. Imagine if you worked on a report at work for several years and it wasn’t quite finished, but someone stole it from your hard drive and showed it around to the investors, who are all now shouting and yelling about the quality of the report, although it wasn’t finished yet. You’d end up crying by the water cooler. 

God of War: Ragnarok

God of War: Ragnarok. Credit: Santa Monica Studios

It also discourages developers and studios from taking risks. The internet isn’t kind when it comes to new things in established franchises so when new designs, characters and such get leaked and they’re received negatively by fans, it tells the studio to stick to the older stuff just to please paying customers. 

While this isn’t a leak and only moderately video game related, Paramount ended up changing the entire design of Sonic the Hedgehog in his first live-action film. The original design which was seen in a trailer had a terrifying set of teeth and strangely small eyes was so badly received Paramount went back to the drawing board and completely redesigned and -animated the character to be closer to its video game origins. 

CAUTION! This article will include spoilers for a variety of games so tread carefully from here. 

The Last Of Us Part II

The Last of us Part II

Credit: Naughty Dog

Before last weekend’s GTA VI leaks, possibly the biggest leak might have been The Last Of Us Part II. The entire story, with images and entire cutscenes, was leaked less than two months before general release. 

What makes this leak even more severe is that a major plot point was leaked which may or may not have skewed people’s perception of the game before they even played it. 

In The Last of Us Part I, you play as Joel, a gruff survivor in a post-apocalyptic America, who is tasked with transporting a kid across the zombified country. To fast forward to the end, Joel saves the kid, Ellie, from being mutilated and killed for a cure that could change the world. 

Part II picks up when Ellie is all grown up and you play as her for most of the game. Fairly early on, the main antagonist of the game, Abby, brutally kills Joel in front of Ellie’s eyes. 

It was a bold move from Naughty Dog, to kill such a beloved character, but it also made the story of Part II incredibly powerful. Yet, it wasn’t seen that way. 

People were furious over the death of Joel, even before they had played the game. Within the game and the story, Joel’s death is a jarring experience that nearly halts the entire game. It provides the motivations for the characters and lays the foundation for the complex themes the game sets out to explore. 

God of War Ragnarok

god of war ragnarok

Credit: Santa Monica Studios

While the plot of God of War Ragnarok, which might be the most anticipated narrative game of 2022, has been skillfully kept under wraps, some character details have been leaked, including the look of Odin, which has been claimed to be the final boss of the game. 

God of War director and Ragnarok’s producer Cory Barlog has tweeted out several times, voicing his frustration with leaks and spoilers. 

Remember, games take years and years to produce and develop before they’re even close to being released. They require the talents of actors, writers, animators, programmers, level designers… It’s a lot of work to make video games, especially these days. 

Diablo 4

diablo 4

Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

The Diablo 4 leak happened literally hours after the GTA VI leak so it has gone mostly unnoticed by the press in favour of the better known, more mainstream title. 

Over 40 minutes of footage was leaked on Sunday, September 18 and looks like it’s from the Alpha testing phase of the newest Diablo game. One of the biggest insights from the leak seems to be durability. 

Durability of what is still unclear, but it could be something similar to Zelda: The Breath of the Wild’s weapon durability which meant weapons would break after a certain amount of uses or hits. It was controversial and in Diablo’s case, it already has people talking and might affect the game’s reception as it did with The Last of Us Part II

Mass Effect 3

mass effect 3

Credit: Electronic Arts

In 2011, a Microsoft employee accidentally uploaded the very much unfinished Mass Effect 3 to Xbox Live and players were able to play the three different modes. 

Mass Effect 3’s leak, while still very unfortunate, is also one of the rare occasions where the studio has been able to turn it around and make it into something positive. Players reported their experiences playing the three new modes and BioWare used the feedback to refine the gameplay before release. 




In 2020, a hacker group managed to gain access to Capcom’s internal servers and stole a terabyte’s worth of information and source code. The group demanded $11 million in ‘ransom’ which Capcom didn’t pay so the group released everything they had, which included designs and development builds. 

While hacks are always concerning and deeply upsetting for the development team, they also showcase just how easily hackers are able to access this information. Hackers are a severe threat in terms of cyber security and it’s scary how quickly they regain a lot of confidential information. 

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