The biggest gaming leaks might be exciting for the fans that are starved for more information but they usually end up in someone getting fired, arrested, or both. The biggest video game leaks usually take the limelight simply because they spill the beans on the biggest upcoming gaming titles.
There are small leaks here and there too, leaks that just namedrop a certain game (looking at you Assassin’s Creed keychain). There is no doubt that gamers have a fascination with the biggest game leaks and want to learn more about their favorite games. Unfortunately, no one has leaked Half-Life 3: Crowbar Mayhem yet, but we are still hoping to see the game someday.
Biggest Gaming Leaks in History
Here are the biggest gaming leaks in history ranked by their impact on either the gaming industry or the game’s reception itself. Which gaming leak spilled the most details? You can be the judge of that!
Grand Theft Auto 6
Grand Theft Auto 5 or as it’s lovingly called GTA 5 is one of the biggest videogames of all time. We are talking billions in revenue here. Even after almost a decade since its release, the game is still played by millions of players each day. So naturally, the hype about the next installment, Grand Theft Auto 6, is at an all-time high. After all, the last game was released way back in 2013 and the series has effectively skipped an entire console generation.
Coming to the leak itself, in September 2022, Rockstar Games had a little network intrusion that grabbed around 90 videos of GTA 6. That not only confirmed the existence of the game but also that it is in active development at the studio. The footage showed an early build of the game complete with the protagonist and the setting.
At first, gamers were skeptical about the leak as the game looked very unfinished, as is often the case in early builds. But later on, a statement by Rockstar Games effectively made the leaked footage legitimate and verified. The biggest gaming leak confirmed quite a few things about the hotly anticipated game, the biggest of which was the first female protagonist in a mainstream GTA game.
The game is also said to take place in Vice City, a location that’s beloved by a ton of old gamers. The footage itself showed small clips in debug mode. There are bigger chunks of the game as well, showing a diner robbery and even a small chat with an NPC. Apart from the inclusion of the first female protagonist and the location, not a lot of detail was leaked. The story, missions, gameplay, and other playable or non-playable characters were not revealed.
The GTA 6 leak was so big and shocking that the FBI started an investigation. The same hacker is said to be involved in the recent Uber hack as well. Apparently, there were some arrests in the UK regarding the leaks.
The Last of Us 2
The Last of Us was a narrative-driven post-apocalyptic zombie game made by NaughtyDog. The game had an incredible story, life-like characters, and industry-topping voice acting. It quickly became a beloved PlayStation franchise even though it was released at the end of the PS3 lifecycle.
Naturally, the next part, The Last of US 2 was the biggest PlayStation game in 2020. People were eagerly awaiting the release to see how the story goes and what adventures will Ellie and Joel follow in the squeal. Unfortunately, a hacker had their own plans to completely ruin the surprise for millions of gamers.
A leak that completely detailed the story surfaced, that too with video clips to cement its legitimacy. It spoiled the biggest plot twists of the story and detailed all narrative beats of the game. A game that became famous thanks to its compelling story had its biggest selling point spoiled in May 2020. This was a huge deal at the time and NaughtyDog was caught off guard.
To put fuel to the fire, the fans got angry at a plot point. Many outright refused to buy the game and canceled their pre-orders. There was a significant backlash to the story and a loud minority even made death threats to the developers. Thankfully, the game saw critical and commercial success and went on to become one of the best zombie games ever. The slick and polished graphics, the smooth animations, and the fresh stealth-based combat made The Last Of Us 2 a hit.
The Assassin’s Creed Series
The Assassin’s Creed Series is about stealth, spying, and assassinations. And coincidently there have been a lot of leaks regarding the series. Recently, a ton of details about the new Assassin’s Creed games were leaked just before the 2022 Ubisoft Forward presentation. Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Infinity, and another one that’s set in Japan were leaked.
The latest leaks didn’t come from a hacker or professional industry leaker, these came from a YouTuber. The YouTuber had already signed an NDA with Ubisoft but still went ahead and leaked the information on Twitter for no apparent reason. They immediately got flak from Ubisoft, and rightfully so.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey got leaked not by a trailer, a poster, or even a script but by a keychain. The licensed keychain leaked the existence of the game along with its name. The keychain was received by retail outlets around the globe way ahead of the official announcement of the game. The keychain made its way to Kotaku and the rest is history.
A NeoGaf user talked to a Ubisoft employee when they were on a plane together. The employee spilled the beans on Assassin’s Creed Unity. The user was able to learn about the full name, the setting, and almost everything about the game including the handgun.
That’s not the only plane-related leak Assassin’s Creed has seen either. A Reddit user spotted a woman working on a presentation in front of him. The presentation was for Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flags slated to release the holiday of 2013. Lo and behold, the game was released but with just a singular flag in its name.
The number of games that were leaked by Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service was astounding. They not only leaked games that were coming to the cloud platform but also games that weren’t even announced yet. Granted, it wasn’t the fault of Nvidia or anyone inside the company, it was still one of the biggest leaks in history just because of how many games were unveiled to be in the works.
A Ukrainian developer was able to access the database backend of the GeForce Now cloud gaming service. He simply relayed what he saw and he saw a lot of stuff relating to games. In September 2021, the details were leaked to the public and we came to know the existence of multiple games.
The biggest games included, Crysis 4, Kingdom Hearts IV, Resident Evil 4 Remake, Monster Hunter 6, Bioshock 2022, Titanfall 3, Half-life 2 Remastered, and Street Fighter 6. These are just a few games included in the list. There’s a Reddit post that details all the games found in the database leak. A huge leak like this confirmed a lot of games for eagerly awaiting gamers and shook the industry.
The Capcom Hack
Details about a game getting leaked are one thing, it’s a whole other ballgame when an entire company gets hacked. Capcom was the target of one such hack that compromised a lot of details about the entire company. We are talking about the personal information of the employees, game release dates, and even financial records.
This was a dire time for the Japanese giant but thankfully customer payment information was not exposed. However, their entire catalog of upcoming games was leaked to the public. One of the biggest games in the leak was the critically and commercially acclaimed Resident Evil: Village. Other games that weren’t announced were Resident Evil 4 Remake and Street Fighter 6.
The effects of the hack were long-lasting and impacted the day-to-day functioning of the company. Thankfully, Capcom has recovered and is on its way to releasing remakes as well as new games. They also confirmed the existence of Dragon’s Dogma 2, a highly anticipated sequel to the hottest action RPG of the last generation. We are holding out hope for Monster Hunter 6 or even Monster Hunter World 2 for now.
This was one of the biggest leaks Jason Schrier published while he was working at Kotaku. Fallout 4 was a hotly anticipated Bethesda game and was following the success of not only Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but also Fallout: New Vegas made by Obsidian. Jason got his hands on the casting documents that gave ample details.
Not only the documents disclosed the setting of Boston but also revealed that the main character will be fully voiced this time around. Usually, Fallout and Elder Scroll games have a silent protagonist with plenty of text-based responses to flesh out their personality. This aids in role-playing immersion as players can easily project themselves on a blank slate.
This leak resulted in Kotaku getting blacklisted by Bethesda and they didn’t provide any review copies of their future games to the website publication. Overall, it was one of the biggest gaming leaks in history as people knew what was in store for them in Fallout 4. If only the documents informed us about any settlements that needed our help.
Crysis 2 was set to release on March 22, 2011, but crisis struck a full month early when an almost complete build of the game got leaked. The leaked version of the game wasn’t completed and had several bugs, glitches, and even placeholder assets. However, that didn’t stop the pirates from enjoying the game in its unfinished glory.
Soon the full copy of the game was circulating Torrent sites and was easily obtainable if one wanted to play. The game, while buggy, could be completed from start to finish with a complete story and cutscenes. The leaked version also had the multiplayer mode and online authentication keys so playing online was feasible too.
Crysis 2 went on to become the most pirated game of the year. It was rumored that an employee of EA or Crytek was the person behind the leak but this wasn’t disclosed to the public. Crytek surely received a huge shock to see their labor of love being pirated and leaked before release.
Right before E3 2018, Walmart Canada posted a placeholder image that contained several games. Some of the listed games were already conformed with their release dates set, while many others were not even revealed. Some games like NBA2K19, The Division 2, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey were already leaked (yes, the infamous keychain leak).
However, the gaming world wasn’t aware of other games like Forza Horizon 4, which was listed as Horizon 5 on the site. There was also a mention of Lego DC Supervillains and Rage 2, both games weren’t announced or leaked before. The image leaked several other games as well, Borderlands 3 was also listed which saw a release almost a year later in April 2019.
Walmart Canada caught flak for their irresponsibility. Many deemed the leak just a fabrication at the time but many of the games were either released or announced.
Elden Ring didn’t suffer big leaks that revealed its story or gameplay elements early. FromSoftware had made a name for themselves through back-to-back hits with Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3, and Sekiro. So the news of another game by the developers got everyone excited. Elden Ring is one of the few hyped-up games that lived up to the extraordinary hype.
The first leak came when rumors began circulating about Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin collaborating with FromSoftware. This came just before the E3 2019 and stole the actual thunder from the official announcement. While not one of the biggest gaming leaks that impacted a game’s sales, it was a spoiler for sure.
Another leak came when the first Elden Ring gameplay trailer was leaked to the masses. While the first Elden Ring was just a chunk of CG cinematic, this leaked trailer was actual in-game gameplay. Then the game saw another leak close to the release, this time in the form of clips taken from the closed network tests. Thankfully, even with the bunch of leaks, the hype machine continued and the game was met with commercial and critical success.
Half-Life 2 was slated to release in September 2003. However, the parent company Valve was hit by a hack and their network cracked. This led to the leak of the whole source code of the hotly anticipated sequel to Half-Life. The leak not only contained the source code but also maps, models, assets, and playable builds of the game.
Everything was leaked online and eager gamers that wanted to see what was in the store were able to download and check out the game themselves. This hack delayed the game further and Valve was justifiably angry at the hackers. At the time this was one of the biggest gaming leaks ever.
Gabe Newell pretended to be interested in hiring the hackers to work for his company Valve. The hackers while talented at hacking were fooled and gave personal information to Lord Gaben. This led to their arrest by the German authorities. A trial was held and netted one of the hackers a two-year probationary sentence. Half-Life 2 was officially released in November 2004 and quickly became one of the best FPS games of all time.
Yes, I know that we left out Halo 2, StarCraft 2, Doom 3, Dishonored 2, and Modern Warefare 3 from the list. Yes, we also didn’t include Mass Effect 3 and Smash Bros leaks on the list either. However, those were big but didn’t shake up the industry much. Many experts don’t consider them to be industry shakers.
Which among the biggest gaming leaks impacted you the most? Did a leak ever compel you to purchase a game or turned you off? Tell us your battles with online leaks and spoilers, we also love to hear new stories!