The spasmodic waiting for the release of Grand Theft Auto 6 wreaked havoc: after all, gamers haven’t seen a new GTA in nearly a decade.
Until recently, for example, it was enough to enter “GTA 6” on YouTube to be attacked by ua wave of videos of self-styled owners of a phantom copy of the game (videos, of course, full of advertising cuts). But if you try to do that same search today, the result is decidedly different: GTA 6 not only exists but videos of a pre alpha version have circulated following a leak.
In the early hours, some doubted the authenticity of the leak, but it didn’t take long before Rockstar herself admitted clearly that yes, the company was hacked and those videos are actually gameplay footage from an in-development build of GTA 6; even worse, it seems that even portions of the source code have been stolen.
GTA VI, was it a real leak?
Real leak or advertising maneuver?
To say that the Grand Theft Auto saga is the videogame equivalent of one state mint this is no exaggeration: few titles in the video game industry can boast of being gods blockbuster announced even before anything is known about the game itself.
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Leaving aside, therefore, the fact that GTA doesn’t exactly need to “advertise” since it is one of those products that literally sell themselves, reading statements of this type, like many others, focus not so much on the leak itself but rather on the question: “but the leaks help or discourage the purchase ? “.
But let’s admit that this is a publicity stunt (a joke that the FBI would also be participating in, since it is investigating the hacker, but so be it …): would it really work in a standard case, ie for a “normal” game, developed by a “common” team?
A little yes, but mostly no. Had it been an unexpected and equally desired game (let’s say, a sequel that has never been said about for almost 20 years), certainly a leak would have as its first consequence an increase in interest from gamers. The point is, however, that a leak is never the finished product, if anything, something rough, malfunctioning and decidedly unappetizing, and these GTA videos are no exception. It’s not the kind of first impression you’re aiming for; but also turning a blind eye to this small detail, reasoning would always remind us that the shapeless mass of polygons that we see in a leaked video belong to a product still in the middle of its development phase.
Or this is at least what I believed before trying to sift through the online comments on Twitter (and of this I do mea culpa, since I still frequent that place of perdition) to find dozens and dozens of extremely negative comments against the Rockstar title from new generations of journalistic criticism: “playstation 2 animations”, “the NPCs they barely react “unwatchable”.
Maybe it is I who am aging prematurely and I am already beginning to look at the younger ones with the same disdain with which a ninety-year-old grandfather looks at Achille Lauro, but to think that someone really believes that a product – not just videogames, of course – is born “ready and packaged ”Is to put your hands on your hair.
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Will GTA 6 sell less after the leak?
But for a publisher there can be no distinction: customers are customers regardless from the crazy opinions they may have, and the interest is to sell to as many people as possible. However, we are talking about a ridiculous percentage of people when compared to the millions of buyers of GTA, but if this leak had hit a studio with a less high-sounding name than Rockstar, the risk of losing the interest of a slice of players even before having announced your project is much higher than you might expect.
But let’s close this first parenthesis because the hope is always that more people are able to understand that it takes more than a couple of months to make a video game; the problems end here?
For the final consumer, probably yes: from his point of view advertising is meant to get your attention to convince him to buy a product: that advertising is a leak or a trailer little changes.
However, this reasoning ignores the fact that trailers and announcements are eyedropper calibrated by the team at marketing, following more variables than I can list. Videogame fairs such as (the now defunct) E3, or the recent Gamescom and TGS are pleasant loci perfect for presenting your project when the public’s attention is at its peak, to which is added the coverage of the press which in turn is further advertising.
Then there is, in the case of GTA VI, the fact that for the first time a playable female character would be presented: it is not only a novelty (also cultural) for the series itself, but also a change in a post-metoo: it is the type of ad around which the marketing would have tried to make a grip on the female audience as well in relation to a series that, historically, has always been purely aimed at a male. Now, however, it does not matter how the new protagonist will be presented in the future announcement trailer, the public reaction is inevitably bound to be plagiarized from the fact that “we all already know that there is a woman protagonist”.
But then will GTA 6 sell less? Moreover? It will sell exactly as it would have sold without the leaks: a wagon.
If Activision Blizzard manages to continue selling millions of copies of Call Of Duty despite the extreme monetization of every game element on the one hand and its reputation marred by allegations of sexual harassment in the company on the other, there is no ” bad leak ”that could stop GTA 6 from selling enough to keep Rockstar on its feet for another decade.
The real problem is that GTA 6 can survive any hit, a smaller, less shiny game would risk cancellation. Let’s think, for example, of a local title: “Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle”, developed by Ubisoft Milan. A strategic game developed in the West starring Super Mario and the Ubisoft Rabbids, still today among the most hateful mascots immediately after the Minions; the title turned out to be extremely solid, to the point that a sequel is ready to be released soon, but at the announcement there were many who turned up their noses.
Not without good reason: Ubisoft has a reputation for creating copy & paste games aimed solely at making big money with minimal effort.
The Ubisoft Milan team, however, has managed to create something refined and of a high level. And the first presentation was, in my opinion, absolutely adorable; but what if they were the target of a leak like that of GTA 6? What would have happened if a Mario Rabbids pre alpha was released online showing broken gameplay and barely decent graphics?
Fortunately, history is not written with ifs. In the meantime, better update those antiviruses.
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