In September 2022, a hacker calling himself “teapotuberhacker” posted footage from an early build of Rockstar Games’ next Grand Theft Auto game. Today, that hacker, 18-year-old Arion Kurtaj, was sentenced in a UK court to stay in a hospital indefinitely for leaking that footage of the game we now know as Grand Theft Auto 6.
The BBC reports that doctors had judged that Kurtaj was unfit to stand trial because of his extreme autism, so he will likely remain in that secure hospital for the rest of his life, unless doctors feel that he is no longer a danger.
Kurtaj was a member of the well-known hacker group Lapsus$. Indeed, he was already out on bail in 2022 for hacking into NVIDIA and BT/EE. He was under police protection in a hotel when, just by using a hotel television, an Amazon Fire TV Stick, and a mobile phone, he managed to hack into Rockstar Games’ servers and take 90 clips of GTA 6. He later posted those clips on a forum.
Rockstar Games claims that the hack of its servers cost the game publisher $5 million, along with the use of “thousands of hours of staff time”. At the time the hack was reported, Rockstar issued a statement saying in part, “We are extremely disappointed to have any details of our next game shared with you all in this way,”
Over a year later, Rockstar released the first trailer for GTA 6, and it became a huge hit online with over 115 million views on just its own YouTube channel. During the trial, attorneys for Kurtaj tried to push an argument in his favor based on the trailer’s high views:
In sentencing hearings, Kurtaj’s defence team argued that the success of the game’s trailer indicated that Kurtaj’s hack had not caused serious harm to the game developer and asked that this be factored into the sentencing.
But Her Honour Judge Lees said that there were real victims and real harm caused from his other multiple hacks on individuals and the companies he attacked with Lapsus$.
GTA 6 is due to be released sometime in 2025 for the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S consoles. A PC version has yet to be officially announced.