The entire story and various other details relating to The Last of Us Part 2 leaked online over the last week. This led to a flurry of backlash and speculation over how it could have happened and what it means for future games in the franchise. The original theory posited by some online was that employees angry over crunch and other exploitation leaked the game online. Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier claims to have blown a big hole in this idea though.
According to Schreier, who says he spoke with two sources familiar with the matter, and found that the actual source of the leaks from The Last of Us Part 2 were hackers, not disgruntled employees. According to these claims a group of hackers exploited a security vulnerability in a patch for an older Naughty Dog game and used whatever credentials or data they gleaned to gain access to servers controlled by the developer. This backdoor was then further exploited to hunt for data on other games, and allegedly lead to the story leaks for The Last of Us Part 2.
“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,” states Schreier. He went on to point out that most of the leak stems from an old build of the game which was seen in certain video files on the compromised servers.
“I think the footage that leaked is from devs playing an early build (I haven’t watched it),” continues Schreier. “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 covid).”
Sony has looked into the issue as well and corroborated this story by denying that the leak was internal.
The idea of crunch angering employees enough to lash out at the studio by leaking the game had a surprising amount of rigidity, given how big of an issue crunch has become in 2020. The labor issues within not just the gaming industry but the wider economy pushed into the limelight over COVID-19 has really shown just how much work remains to be done.
So when the leaks burned across the internet, fans were both incredulous and angry, but not necessarily at the right person(s). Naughty Dog put out a statement apologizing to fans who were spoiled. “We know the last few days have been incredibly difficult for you. We feel the same,” said the developer. “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 do not spoil it for others.”
The Last of Us Part 2 will be released for the PlayStation 4 on June 19.