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We finally know what happened with The Last of Us 2

Last week, fans of The Last of Us were dismayed to discover that someone had managed to steal and release late-game footage from the upcoming sequel, The Last of Us Part 2. This resulted in a ton of people having major plot points in The Last of Us Part 2 spoiled for them. This kicked off an attempt to figure out who had done this and why. The original theory was that it was someone close to the developer that had leaked the footage. However, we now know that this isn't the case.

As reported by games journalist Jason Schreier, "After talking to two people with direct knowledge of how TLOU2 leaked as well as some Naughty Dog employees, I have a good idea of what happened. Short version: hackers found a security vulnerability in a patch for an older ND game and used it to get access to ND's servers."

Schreier continued, "I think the footage that leaked is from devs playing an early build ... Most importantly, rumors of this being an act of protest by a contractor whose pay was robbed are not true. (ND actually extended pay and healthcare benefits for contractors due to [the coronavirus outbreak])."

Kotaku has apparently been able to verify this report, thanks to an anonymous game developer referring to themselves as Pixelbutts. A group of hackers figured out how to access Naughty Dog's private Amazon servers related to some of the developer's older games. These servers allow the developer to upload works in progress and play-testing videos as they make tweaks on a game. From there, the hackers followed a trail of breadcrumbs that led them to other password information. After hacking into the development servers for Uncharted 2 and 3, the hackers discovered that Uncharted 3's server held some information related to The Last of Us. 

According to Pixelbutts, the hackers figured, "It wasn't too much of a stretch to think TLOU1's server would have TLOU2 material."

By sometime in March, the hackers had managed to download "at least one terabyte of data from the part of the server associated with The Last Of Us." This is reportedly where they found the footage related to The Last of Us Part 2. Unfortunately, someone else managed to get their hands on this footage and then leaked it onto the internet.

This was apparently not the original plan for the hackers. As Pixelbutts explained it, ""Their circle is more just [Naughty Dog] enthusiasts that like development content from their games, rather than malicious actors." 

If that's the case, then it's likely that the folks behind the initial hack are feeling particularly guilty for their role in the leak, particularly if they're big fans of Naughty Dog's work. This sheds a very different light on the entirety of the leak. As mentioned previously, one of the original theories was that the footage was leaked by a disgruntled employee of either Sony or Naughty Dog. The developer has been criticized for relying far too heavily on "crunch" to get games finished within a certain deadline. Even after the game was delayed multiple times, it was pretty much understood that Naughty Dog employees would be working around the clock to get the game into tip-top shape for release. That's why it didn't seem like a ridiculous leap to imagine a fed-up employee trying to teach their employers a lesson. 

However, since we now know that the leaker has no known connection to Naughty Dog or Sony, it just seems as though the person responsible did this with malicious intent. It's hard to imagine any other reasons why someone would go out of their way to spoil a highly-anticipated game like this.

Naughty Dog has expressed severe disappointment in the fact that this material was released. In a statement released on Twitter (via SlashGear, because people naturally keep posting spoilers in the comments of Naughty Dog's original post), Naughty Dog told fans, "We know the last few days have been incredibly difficult for you. We feel the same. It's disappointing to see the release and sharing of pre-release footage from development. Do your best to avoid spoilers and we ask that you don't spoil it for others. The Last of Us Part II will be in your hands soon. No matter what you see and hear, the final experience will be worth it."

Hopefully fans will be able to sidestep any further spoilers before the game is released on June 19. As we have already seen, that can be particularly difficult, especially on social media.