GTA Grand Theft Auto Microsoft

After Grand Theft Auto 5 leaked online, developer and Microsoft begin to hit back

By Mark Leiser | Research Fellow

September 14, 2013 | 4 min read

Irony may be found in the title. Grand Theft Auto V. The leaking of the game on BitTorrent sites in advance of its official release date has its Developer Rockstar and Microsoft dropping hammer blows on the anonymous blogger. An infamous blocker known as Jsticks11 has been leaking images, videos, and screen grabs of the new game on sites like Vine, resulting in Microsoft blocking his entire XBOX Live account. The game, which was set for a release date on 17 September, has appeared on Torrent sites

There are times (admittedly, very few) where I actually feel sorry for companies like Microsoft. They work very hard developing software and hardware for every day folk. I routinely expect every product that comes in digital format to be hacked and put online in some format or another. Often these films, music, books, and software are found on Torrent sites like the Pirate Bay, although blocked, is still accessible because the user community decided to ‘stick it to the man’ in a game of cat and mouse by building proxy sites. These proxy sites allow users to circumvent court blocks placed on ISPs getting to sites like Pirate Bay. The traffic that flows across BitTorrent sites should not be underestimated. According to a report, 53.3 per cent of all upstream traffic could be attributed to Peer-to-peer (P2P) applications. Will the cracking and illegal copying of Grand Theft Auto be enough to push it to 53.4 per cent? The game is immensely popular. The title is also highly anticipated. And Microsoft may have inadvertently contributed to the leaking by withholding all examples of in game scenes from the $170m project. Grand Theft Auto V has already received 2.5 million pre-orders ahead of the 17 September launch on PS3 and Xbox 360. Downloading the game requires burning two disk images onto DVD and then playing on a flashed XBOX. A subsequently-deleted blog post has led some gamers and gaming journalists to suspect that the game was leaked by a former Rockstar employee. This will not be the first time that a leak had affected the company’s desire to keep all information about the game under wraps until release date. From a legal point of view, people downloading from BitTorrent sites would be committing what I would call “straight-up” copyright infringement. Clearly – even a flashed XBOX isn’t going to get you out of this one. According to the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, “the video games industry is the jewel in the crown of the UK’s creative industries” and sees the UK as the third largest market in the world. "“The UK games sector is projected grow approximately 7.5 per cent between 2009 and 2012. UK sales of video games in 2010 totalled over £1.53bn buoyed by record breaking releases such as Call of Duty: Black Ops, recording a staggering 2m units sold in the UK over its first five days and generating an estimated £81.9m.”“Our successful UK industry sits within a strong global video games and interactive entertainment market. Global revenues from software sales are reportedly $50bn per annum (over £30bn) and are expected to rise to $87 billion (£54bn) by 2014. PricewaterhouseCoopers projects the sector will grow at an average annual rate of 10.6 per cent between 2010 and 2014 – faster than film, music and TV.”
The news that GTA was hacked and released on BitTorrent will no doubt renew the calls for the government to implement the statutory requirements made by the Digital Economy Act. The Act – which promises to empower content creators with a legal process that could ultimately mean termination of infringers Internet connection could be re-established as content creators’ major defence against illegal fire-sharing. The Association argues that the DEA puts the burden onto the victim and doesn’t provide enough of a framework to protect content creators. Although the Association applauded the DEA’s ability to block sites on the Internet, it criticizes the lack of action to prevent one click sharing from “cyber-lockers” like Google Drive and Dropbox. Users download files only to upload them again in order to share with “one-click”. Microsoft has responded by announcing it will suspend all of the accounts of users who have taken it upon themselves to share pirated copies on P2P sites. Microsoft has not been able to confirm how it plans to identify those users who are sharing the game through BitTorrent. Game blogger JSticks11 posted a video on Vine claiming his console has been blocked my Microsoft. The text in his Vine video stated: “This console has been banned for violations of terms of service. To protect the Xbox Live service and its members, Microsoft does not provide details about console bans. There is no recourse for terms of service violations.”

GTA Grand Theft Auto Microsoft

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