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The Biggest Leaks In Gaming History

The wait for a next big AAA game can be excruciating. Just take a look at Nintendo: "Pikmin 4" was announced to be close to completion back in 2015 (per Eurogamer), only for a Nintendo Direct in 2022 to deliver "Pikmin" fans the big news that it was still a little ways away. The threat of cancellation or countless delays don't help fan anxiety — but leaks can have a way of both exciting and infuriating gamers.


Leaks come in all shapes and sizes. Perhaps a new character or skin was revealed ahead of time for a trending shooter or fighting game. Maybe story spoilers were randomly dropped on social media prior to release. Even an entire game has the potential to be accessed way before launch, despite the developer's best intentions. As it gets harder and harder to keep secrets during the development cycle, the pressure mounts for gaming companies. Once a game is shown ahead of time, it had better look good — because if it doesn't, then the anticipation can be ruined.

It feels like every game should be worried about leaks, since it can happen to indie titles and blockbusters alike. Sure, some leaks may be the talk of the week, but others will be on the minds of players and developers for years to come.


Grand Theft Auto 6 footage gets hacked

This is easily the mother of all gaming leaks! After years of waiting for news on "GTA 6," fans were treated to new footage, but this was far from official. Instead, the sneak peek came in the form of over 90 snippets of internal gameplay tests. So much footage was abundant in this breach. Everything from story missions to new mechanics were disclosed, as well as a reveal that the game was returning the franchise to Vice City. Fans even got their first look at "GTA 6's" main character, as well as a number of other small details in this massive leak.


"Grand Theft Auto" is not only the biggest gaming property in the biz, but also the most profitable entertainment release of all time (per GamesIndustry.biz), so it's not taken lightly when even a hint of a new game is dropped. Rockstar's games are usually kept hidden away until the company decides to properly unveil the game through a major announcement — not so, this time. The incident made waves to the point that Rockstar had to quickly break its silence, verifying the legitimacy of the leaks and reassuring fans that the game would not be delayed.

The Last of Us Part 2 gets spoiled

PlayStation has built up quite a catalogue of exclusive action games. "Uncharted" and "God of War" are prime examples of Sony's best franchises, but "The Last of Us" blew fans away by putting storytelling front and center, delivering a gripping post-apocalyptic tale for the ages. Thanks primarily to its cast of fleshed-out characters and an impactful ending, gamers were chomping at the bits for a continuation.


Well, the plot of "Part 2" came to light a bit too soon. Months ahead of release, "The Last of Us Part 2" was spoiled for everyone. Leaked footage depicted the gruesome fate of one of the main characters, as well as other story bits and gameplay. Leaks happen, but this was a major blow to Naughty Dog, especially when the game's twists quickly divided the fanbase.

This ruined the ad campaign too as early trailers had character-swapped scenes to avoid spoilers (per Game Rant). So much hard work in keeping things under wraps was all for naught, and an entire 7-year period crawled by between the two installments, just for the sequel to be spoiled for so many fans. It isn't surprising that the director of the "The Last of Us" has weighed in on leaks for other major games — Neil Druckmann knows how it feels.


Capcom's Entire Company Gets Exposed

Sure, a game being accidentally disclosed is frustrating — but what about an entire company? Capcom was the victim of a company-wide hack that compromised personal information for employees, game release schedules, and miscellaneous financial records. Suffice it to say, things were not looking good for Capcom. Thankfully, consumer payment information was not exposed, but virtually all of their future releases were incidentally unveiled as a result of the attack.


The leak revealed the launch date of "Resident Evil: Village," as well as other games that hadn't been formally announced, including "Resident Evil 4 Remake" and even "Street Fighter 6." Capcom's attack was so infamous that it is still being referenced with recent announcements like "Dragon's Dogma 2." Gamers holding out for their favorite IPs also lost hope too since a game not appearing on the schedule meant it wasn't happening any time soon.

Capcom's company-wide leak was far-reaching, and there aren't many other leaks in the gaming industry that are even comparable. The company is still feeling the effects of the hack after all this time.

Elden Ring's secrets are revealed too soon

FromSoftware seems like it is becoming more and more of a household name. Putting out one masterpiece after another seems nigh-impossible, but the developer has managed to release great titles like "Bloodborne," "Dark Souls 3," and "Sekiro" one after the other. This naturally caused all gamers to keep their eyes on what was in store for the Japanese team, and "Elden Ring" would become one of the most anticipated games in recent memory. Shockingly, "Elden Ring" fell victim to a few notable leaks.


The first was right before E3 2019, when fans began to hear that a major announcement was on the way involving "Game of Thrones" author George R. R. Martin collaborating on a new FromSoftware game. A big crossover like this was very tantalizing, but the magic of that initial reveal was stolen. The kicker is that the first trailer treated the announcement as a massive surprise, even though most viewers were already in the loop. This first leak demonstrates how big surprises can fall flat when news breaks early.

After this, an "Elden Ring" gameplay trailer was leaked online. The first teaser trailer at E3 was little more than a CG cinematic to announce the game. This time, real gameplay was shown off, which did a bit more to drum up interest. That isn't where things ended, however. Not long before the game's official launch, "Elden Ring" gameplay was leaked in a closed network test, showing off character creation, player stats, and even some voice lines that hinted at the game's lore. By this point, fans were so excited for "Elden Ring" the reveal of the character customization screen was enough to build hype. In this case, the constant leaks didn't do much to dull the game's shine.


Challenger Approaching! And we already know who it is

Nintendo's "Super Smash Bros." series began as a simple 12-character Nintendo crossover on the N64. Since then, each sequel has added more and more fighters, creating dream matchups of epic proportions. Seeing Steve from "Minecraft" fight Mario is still mind-boggling! But with these new characters come massive leaks.


An early look for the Wii U and 3DS iterations of "Super Smash Bros." gave fans an unofficial look at the new arrivals (per GameSpot), including heavy hitters like "Duck Hunt" Dog, Bowser Jr., and Shulk — all of whom would get proper cinematic trailers later down the road. These were the final characters of the starting roster, so the fact that they were all spoiled ruined the finale of Smash's pre-launch hype train. 

Hilariously, "Smash Bros. Ultimate" saw more than a few famous leaks, many of which were fake. One was called the "Grinch leak" thanks to the presence of the Dr. Seuss character in the image. But these phony leaks did nothing to detract from the real leaks, which were often jaw dropping. Incineroar was leaked well before its announcement, as was Ken from "Street Fighter." But the most blatant leak was probably Terry Bogart's botched announcement. The "Fatal Fury" character was easily predicted by fans when a trademark was spotted on the official website. "Smash Bros. Ultimate" basically couldn't catch a break from leaks during its entire lifespan.


Assassin's Creed leaks are up in the air

Usually games are datamined or hacked when information like this comes to light. This time around, it was all due to some guy sitting next to a developer on a plane.

The story goes that a NeoGaf user relayed his run-in with an Ubisoft developer while traveling. Much to this individual's surprise, the person sitting next to him on the plane had a lot to say about the next "Assassin's Creed," which would soon be announced as "Assassin's Creed: Unity." Among the things revealed during their conversation: the full title, the main character's name, and even the game's historical setting. Pretty much everything about the game was told to a stranger by a developer during a casual chat.


It's a wild story, but what's probably even stranger is that "Unity" isn't the only game to apparently be leaked on an airplane! On Reddit, a user discussed how a woman in front of him was working on a PowerPoint presentation. In the presentation, there was mention of "Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flags," which aimed for a holiday release in 2013. Of course, this would come to pass when the game dropped later that year, albeit with the singular "Black Flag" title.

These Ubisoft leaks prove that people can find out gaming secrets by any means. 

Far Cry 6 was leaked over and over again

Continuing the Ubisoft leak trend, "Far Cry 6" was the subject of constant underhanded reveals. Originally supposed to launch in February 2021, "Far Cry 6" was delayed until October that year. During that eight month gap, tons of information started coming in through different channels.


The month of May was rough for the Ubisoft FPS. Firstly, eight minutes of gameplay was shown too soon. The incident happened because of an apparent miscommunication between a YouTuber and Ubisoft (per Axios). Apparently the two parties had an agreement regarding when to publish the footage, but the date changed without the creator realizing.

Prior to the gameplay leak, the story "Far Cry 6" also got out to the public. Due to an errant game listing, fans learned that the characters Anton Castillo and Diego loomed large in the game, as evidenced by the leaked cover art. This leak also confirmed actor Giancarlo Esposito's involvement as the game's main antagonist. Twitter reacted to the leak with shock and surprise, but many remarked that the then-upcoming Ubisoft Forward would likely be devoid of surprises. Ubisoft just can't seem to catch a break with leaks.


Classic Street Fighters get redesigned

Fighting games have a formula to follow nowadays: A game announcement is typically followed by consistent character trailers up until launch, the base game has a balanced starting roster, and then subsequent characters are added through DLC and season passes. Because of this strategy, it would be an annoyance for one or two characters to be leaked. Unfortunately, Capcom had to deal with a whopping 22 characters being unofficially announced!


A massive "Street Fighter 6" leak in the summer of 2022 featured an entire character sheet that revealed official designs for fighters old and new. Such a blunder hurts even more, since this "Street Fighter" is shaking things up and drastically redesigning some beloved characters. If some good can come about this unfortunate situation, it's that fan reaction has been almost universally positive. Yes, obviously there are those who are bummed that their favorite fighter isn't returning, but there doesn't seem to be the kind of backlash that "Street Fighter 5" saw in regards to its design choices.

At least some things haven't been spoiled, like character move sets. "Street Fighter 6" is retooling the original cast to create more interesting strategies for players, so there are still things to look forward to, even with the leaks.


NVIDIA has all the ports

Ports are usually exciting for gamers, especially when it comes to games that were previously exclusive to one console. Players tend to get excited when a coveted game finally arrives on their console of choice. And while a lot of titles are on PC via launchers like Steam, there are still some seemingly unattainable titles.


Then the NVIDIA leak happened, which seemingly revealed plans to bring a ton of PlayStation, Microsoft, and third party console games to PC. A coder discovered an apparent master list that revealed "God of War," "Uncharted," "Street Fighter 6," and "Resident Evil 4 Remake" PC ports, among many others. This spoiled the announcements of the ports, and even the existence of some of these games themselves. Not every game on the list has been confirmed, of course. For instance, "Bayonetta 3" is on the list, but a PC port has yet to be announced — and it's also worth noting that Nintendo games almost always stay on their respective console. 

Though NVIDIA insisted that the list did not necessarily mean these games were on the way, many subsequent announcements have seemingly proven otherwise.


Sega accidentally gave away Yakuza 6 for free

Demos are usually put out by companies to gauge interest in a game. Some modern demos will allow players to save their progress and continue when the full game is purchased. As noted by The Escapist, some demos can also be highly replayable, as many gamers have fond memories of playing the "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" demo disc from Pizza Hut. At the end of the day though, demos are meant to be teases, not a full game. Sega learned that the hard way.


Imagine downloading a demo and finding the whole game attached to it. That's exactly what happened when the demo for "Yakuza 6: The Song of Life" was dropped. As Sega revealed on Twitter, the sizable one-chapter demo was somehow cracked and players were able to enjoy the full game well ahead of its release date. As soon as the company found out, they removed the demo until kinks were ironed out, issuing apologies on social media. 

Demos are supposed to give players a good feel for how the game will play, but this was a nightmare scenario that took that sneak peek to the next level.

CD Projekt Red's codes were auctioned off

One of the most hyped-up games of the last few years was "Cyberpunk 2077." Gamers were stoked to dive into this dystopian tale years in the making, but launch time didn't go the way they hoped. The game was virtually unplayable for many and was a startling mess, leading to hilariously awful bugs and calls for refunds. Accelerating the madness was a hack that hit "Cyberpunk" developer CD Projekt Red. The company was shocked to find out its source code was stolen for multiple games.


This means that hackers got access to the creators' programming code used for "Cyberpunk 2077" and the "Witcher 3." Rather than release schedules or game art, CD Projekt Red saw its confidential work exposed, meaning strangers or competitors could take a look through some of the company's trade secrets.

Sadly, the story was not over. The hackers reportedly wanted to "negotiate" with the developers for the return of the stolen code. After CDPR refused to play ball, the hackers went on to try to sell the information via an online auction. The auction was eventually canceled, as the hacker had agreed to sell the code to another unknown party. It's presumed that the hacker made millions.

Valve fans hacks the company and asks for a job

Back in 2004, Alex Gembe successfully hacked Valve Software and pulled the source code for "Half-Life 2." As a result, Valve offered the hacker a job. That might seem like an odd turn of events, but there's so much more to the tale.


Because of his actions, Alex Gembe put Valve in jeopardy when the source code was leaked online. Valve, with the assistance of the FBI, created a sting operation to try and capture Gembe. Their plan was a bit unconventional, to say the least. Gembe got himself caught when he told Valve president Gabe Newell what he had done — and asked for a job at the company. 

During a standard phone interview, Gembe was given typical interview questions. Then he was asked about how he breached Valve's servers, providing Valve and the authorities with a full confession of his crime. Gembe was then asked to travel from Germany to the U.S. for a further interview, but German police got to him first. He actually got off easy, since the U.S. could have incarcerated him for 10 years. Gembe told Eurogamer that he really didn't mean anything malicious by hacking Valve, and that he still felt badly about his part in the hack. Gembe has since turned over a new leaf and gotten a job in cybersecurity.