Last night A ton of videos have been leaked online that are likely Grand Theft Auto VI, a video game currently in development and likely to be released in a few years. The footage is rough, in many cases nothing more than placeholders, and it’s both the most wonderful and the most common thing you’ll see this week.
This is remarkable, of course, because of the scale of the leaks. It is one of the largest video game series on the planet. Rockstar is known for being secretive. It’s rare to get any credible leak from the Rockstar game development studio; to receive such footage is unprecedented.
But that’s also okay, because that’s what a video game in development looks like. It must be rough because it’s not finished. Comparing the “play” in this shot to the finished product is like judging a pizza while you still have cheese on top, or a house when the only thing left is a frame and a few windows.
Every game you’ve ever played looked like this at some point (or a temporary version of it). Last of us looked like shit Skyrim looked like a donkey The Witcher 3 at some point would be nothing more than blocks and placeholder text. The only difference between them and Grand Theft Auto VI is that we should see the latter while the game is still in development.
While some people were critical of the footage (in rare cases to predictable extremes), I think the vast majority of the fans unanimously expressed great interest. interest in new Grand Theft Auto specifically the game, of course, but also just seeing Any sort of a major video game in such a raw and unfinished state.
People like to look behind the scenes, this is something the TV and film industry has known for decades, but for many reasons video games have rarely trusted the average fan to know that the game looks like it has failed for much of its development (that’s right, one of the main reasons I run my art feature is to fight it in one small way!).
So along with the reaction of the average player this weekend, I also saw a lot of developers complaining about the leaks, saying that this is not how we should first look at the game, that the footage is doing a disservice to developers who deserve to showcase their game in such a way, how it will be seen (or hoped to be seen) in the final product.
Why doesn’t someone work at Rockstar Indeed worry about that unless the only thing you were really worried about was maintaining the industry’s obsession with pre-orders and tightly controlled pre-release marketing? Stills from Hollywood movies and major TV shows are constantly leaking, showing everything from stars with prosthetics dangling from their faces to green screens behind them, and we take it easy because we all understand that this is how films are made. A Marvel blockbuster on the big screen won’t look like a blurry photo of Chris Hemsworth wearing a semi-suit.
Video games are no different! They start on the back of napkins and, years later, end up with something cool that we play and enjoy. This process is not magical, it requires Work, and just because the average gamer never sees it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. These videos, no matter how strange and ridiculous they may look, Work. I would like us to see more footage like this, both before and after the release of the game.
I will always advocate greater transparency on the part of developers and publishers, but I don’t want to sit here and argue that developers should always be this is transparent. This is a colossal leak, probably obtained by criminal means. And a lot of the uploaded footage lacks the context needed to make it really useful as a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on. Grand Theft Auto VI. If I was working on a game and things spilled out like this, with no framing, I’d be pissed too!
What I really want to say is that I hope this leak can be at least educational and not just sensational. That while the circumstances were pretty shitty for the team involved in this particular case, as part of a larger conversation about secrecy and transparency (the one we’ve had for a decade) I hope this can be an important marker showing that, you know what, most of us are smart enough to understand that this is how sausage is made.
And it will a lot of people, because as violent as it may seem now, in September 2022, it is Grand Theft Auto the game. Millions of gamers will end up buying and playing the finished product (sausage) whenever it is eventually released, and then be able to look back at that footage (how it was made) and draw a line between them.
Maybe this will just be a superficial exercise for many, a lot of people saying “yeah, look at that” or simplistic YouTube videos pointing out differences in mission scenarios. But I hope that in the long run it will also help millions of people better understand how their video games are made, even if the means by which they they got that lesson wasn’t exactly perfect.