Eight Years Later, Half-Life 2 Pirate/Hacker Repents

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#1 Edited by Siphillis (1292 posts) -

For those of you pining for more "investigative" gaming journalism, Eurogamer posted a fascinating read detailing the infamous Half-Life 2 heist that took place in late 2003.  The story is told from both Valve's (through founder Gabe Newell) and Alex Gembe's, the young German hacker who has since been relieved of probation, perspective. 
 
This article seems especially topical, since both Sony and Crytek have been in piracy-related headlines recently.  For the uninitiated, Sony is suing New Jersey-based hacker George Hotz (aka "GeoHot") for "jailbreaking" and allegedly promoting piracy on the PlayStation 3.  Meanwhile, an unfinished build of Crysis 2 has been released on BitTorrent.  A petition has been set up for gamer vowing to purchase Crysis 2 at retail.

At the risk of plagiarism, here's an excerpt: 
 

"At 6am on 7th May 2004, Axel Gembe awoke in the small German town of im Schwarzwald to find his bed surrounded by police officers. Automatic weapons were pointing at his head and the words 'Get out of bed. Do not touch the keyboard' were ringing in his ears.  Gembe knew why they were there. But, bleary-eyed, he asked anyway.

'You are being charged with hacking into Valve Corporation's network, stealing the videogame Half-Life 2, leaking it onto the internet and causing damages in excess of $250 million, came the reply. "Get dressed.'

Seven months earlier, on 2nd October 2003, Valve Corporation director Gabe Newell awoke in the large American city of Seattle to find the source code for the game his company had been working on for almost five years had leaked onto the internet. The game had been due for release a couple of weeks earlier but the development team was behind. 12 months behind. Half-Life 2 was going to be late, and Newell had yet to admit how late. Such a leak was not only financially threatening but deeply embarrassing."

Source: 
 
Any comments regarding the story, or piracy in general, are welcome.  I was an avid pirate years ago, and no, I never wound up purchasing the game in the end.  
#2 Posted by Cirdain (3089 posts) -

One of the best articles ever written on eurogamer.net

#3 Posted by RJPelonia (863 posts) -

Great, great read. Thanks for the link.

#4 Posted by Animasta (14692 posts) -

your title makes it seem that he didn't feel bad about it until just now, but according to the article, he did feel bad like right after it got leaked.

#5 Edited by Aus_azn (2224 posts) -

Good to know. Although, I'd be surprised if Hotz does the same in 8 years time.

#6 Posted by kingzetta (4307 posts) -

they could have stolen a better game

#7 Posted by wellAdjusted (17 posts) -

FBI got blue balled.

#8 Posted by wolf_blitzer85 (5256 posts) -

Wow an actual article rather than something PR pushes out the door that seems to plague every video game site ever. It's nice to see there are folks out there at least trying.

#9 Posted by Cincaid (2956 posts) -
@kingzetta said:
" they could have stolen a better game "
Ooh, edgy!
#10 Posted by Geno (6477 posts) -

By the way, the guy's on Reddit, and he says he's going to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) tomorrow. 

#11 Posted by kingzetta (4307 posts) -
@CrazyChris said:
" @kingzetta said:
" they could have stolen a better game "
Ooh, edgy! "
POW!
#12 Edited by XenoNick (1408 posts) -

That was a pretty good article.

#13 Posted by BabyChooChoo (4515 posts) -
@Aus_azn said:
" Good to know. Although, I'd be surprised if Hotz does the same in 8 years time. "
I doubt it. Unless he gets jail time or probation of some sort too, he could care less. The YouTube video is proof enough he isn't remorseful at all and I doubt he will ever be. The saddest part of that is he has so many people backing him that would much rather see the PS3 perish than for any harm to come to their "Robin Hood" of hacking. 
 
Pirates in general these days don't care about the other end of the spectrum. Just look at half the comments on the articles Destructoid have been posting regarding the recent rise in piracy. As long as they're okay, they could less who gets hurt. It's sad.
#14 Posted by MikkaQ (10290 posts) -

I never really imagined they brought heavily armed men to arrest hackers... Thought that was a movie thing. 
 
I always assumed a cop would just knock on your door, get you to admit your name, then promptly cuff you, not this whole raid thing. Kinda ridiculous. Though what he did was wrong. 

#15 Posted by blueduck (964 posts) -

Why is jail breaking a ps3 bad again? If I bought something with my money shouldn't I then own that thing and be able to do what I want with it?

#16 Posted by AhmadMetallic (18955 posts) -

i wasnt a gamer when that happened.. 
 
did HL2 not sell well ?

#17 Posted by EvilTwin (3324 posts) -
@PrimeSynergy said:
" @Aus_azn said:
" Good to know. Although, I'd be surprised if Hotz does the same in 8 years time. "
I doubt it. Unless he gets jail time or probation of some sort too, he could care less. The YouTube video is proof enough he isn't remorseful at all and I doubt he will ever be. The saddest part of that is he has so many people backing him that would much rather see the PS3 perish than for any harm to come to their "Robin Hood" of hacking.   Pirates in general these days don't care about the other end of the spectrum. Just look at half the comments on the articles Destructoid have been posting regarding the recent rise in piracy. As long as they're okay, they could less who gets hurt. It's sad. "
He's not going to get jail time for a civil case.  
 
And why should he be remorseful?  He doesn't support piracy or using a hacked PS3 to cheat online.  He just supports a consumer's rights to do what they want with the thing that they bought.
#18 Posted by Toms115 (2316 posts) -
@Ahmad_Metallic said:
" i wasnt a gamer when that happened..  did HL2 not sell well ? "
yeah they sold like three copies
#19 Edited by AhmadMetallic (18955 posts) -
@Toms115 said:

" @Ahmad_Metallic said:

" i wasnt a gamer when that happened..  did HL2 not sell well ? "
yeah they sold like three copies "
no seriously 
 
 
Edit: aight i looked it up and saw it sold well.. nevermind
#20 Posted by MrRedwine (430 posts) -
@blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on?
#21 Edited by august (3846 posts) -
@MrRedwine said:

" @blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on? "

Please go on with more hyperbolic bullshit metaphors that aren't even remotely related to the topic at hand, because I (for one) am excited about what else you can cook up.
#22 Posted by Toms115 (2316 posts) -
@Ahmad_Metallic said:
" @Toms115 said:

" @Ahmad_Metallic said:

" i wasnt a gamer when that happened..  did HL2 not sell well ? "
yeah they sold like three copies "
no seriously   Edit: aight i looked it up and saw it sold well.. nevermind "
oh, you're serious.
 
yeah it sold a shit ton.
#23 Posted by EvilTwin (3324 posts) -
@MrRedwine said:
" @blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on? "
Apologies, but that is a horrible analogy.  What you're saying is more akin to buying a PS3 and using it to beat someone to death with.  A better analogy would be opening the hood of your BMW and being able to put whatever engine you want in it. 
#24 Edited by blueduck (964 posts) -
@MrRedwine said:

" @blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on? "

You should but if you do you should use examples that actually make a point! Driving a 110MPH is illegal because it can cause bodily harm to other just like giving alcohol to minors, shooting a gun at cars or shocking neighborhood animals with a taser! See like you say in your post all these things can actually hurt people. If I buy a ps3 unless I plan to bash someone over the head with it then I should own and there by be able to do whatever I want with it. A good example would be if I bought ice cream at the store and tried to eat it with a fork and the owner said no I didn't want you doing that with my ice cream. See the problem it stopped being his ice cream! 
#25 Posted by Toms115 (2316 posts) -
@MrRedwine said:
" @blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on? "
you musn't be aware of the concept of doing what you want with your stuff as long as you don't harm others. simply jailbreaking your ps3 does not harm anyone.
#26 Posted by august (3846 posts) -
@Toms115 said:
" @Ahmad_Metallic said:
" @Toms115 said:

" @Ahmad_Metallic said:

" i wasnt a gamer when that happened..  did HL2 not sell well ? "
yeah they sold like three copies "
no seriously   Edit: aight i looked it up and saw it sold well.. nevermind "
oh, you're serious.  yeah it sold a shit ton. "
But also keep in mind that the leaked code was barely able to run and had next to no content. It wasn't like everyone got the game a year early.
#27 Posted by Toms115 (2316 posts) -
@august: truth.
#28 Posted by blueduck (964 posts) -
@EvilTwin said:
" @MrRedwine said:
" @blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on? "
Apologies, but that is a horrible analogy.  What you're saying is more akin to buying a PS3 and using it to beat someone to death with.  A better analogy would be opening the hood of your BMW and being able to put whatever engine you want in it.  "
See once again you've made another poor analogy! The law doesn't want you putting crazy engines in because you again could hurt someone ( now whether you agree with that is a different story) at least that's the logic they made the law with. How could you ever hurt someone with a jail broken ps3?
#29 Posted by Sjupp (1910 posts) -
@Ahmad_Metallic:  It says how many at the end of the article. Can't remember, a bazillion or something. It's HL2 we're talking about.
#30 Posted by Toms115 (2316 posts) -
@blueduck said:
" @EvilTwin said:
" @MrRedwine said:
" @blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on? "
Apologies, but that is a horrible analogy.  What you're saying is more akin to buying a PS3 and using it to beat someone to death with.  A better analogy would be opening the hood of your BMW and being able to put whatever engine you want in it.  "
See once again you've made another poor analogy! The law doesn't want you putting crazy engines in because you again could hurt someone ( now whether you agree with that is a different story) at least that's the logic they made the law with. How could you ever hurt someone with a jail broken ps3? "
that's what the pirates want you to think.
#31 Posted by blueduck (964 posts) -
@Toms115 said:
" @blueduck said:
" @EvilTwin said:
" @MrRedwine said:
" @blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on? "
Apologies, but that is a horrible analogy.  What you're saying is more akin to buying a PS3 and using it to beat someone to death with.  A better analogy would be opening the hood of your BMW and being able to put whatever engine you want in it.  "
See once again you've made another poor analogy! The law doesn't want you putting crazy engines in because you again could hurt someone ( now whether you agree with that is a different story) at least that's the logic they made the law with. How could you ever hurt someone with a jail broken ps3? "
that's what the pirates want you to think. "
Ha, yeah I know thank god for Sony because at the end of the day I know it has my properties best interests in mind!
#32 Posted by BeachThunder (11942 posts) -

That was genuinely a good article. One of the best game-related articles I've read.

#33 Edited by mnzy (2914 posts) -
@Siphillis said:

'Get out of bed. Do not touch the keyboard' 

Or what?
"We had to shoot him, he had a keyboard." ?
 
Anyways...I always wonder why there are so many German hackers yet we are not really a big IT-nation.
The PS3-hack was revealed in Germany, too.
 
Really nice article.
#34 Posted by EvilTwin (3324 posts) -
@blueduck said:
" See once again you've made another poor analogy! The law doesn't want you putting crazy engines in because you again could hurt someone ( now whether you agree with that is a different story) at least that's the logic they made the law with. How could you ever hurt someone with a jail broken ps3? "
Fair enough, it wasn't worded quite correctly.  I didn't mean that you're able to stick a jet engine in your car and drive it on the street, just that you as a consumer have certain rights when it comes to a car that you own.
#35 Posted by beej (1674 posts) -
@MrRedwine: Those are ridiculous examples. A more appropriate example would be if a company sold you a computer and only allowed you to run windows on it. To compare that to shooting someone, or recklessly endangering lives just lowers the quality of discourse on this issue. 
#36 Posted by Rattle618 (1463 posts) -

What an asshole, to do something that cool and then not only practically turn himself in but also claim that he is sorry?. 
Also, excellent article.

#37 Posted by blueduck (964 posts) -
@EvilTwin said:
" @blueduck said:
" See once again you've made another poor analogy! The law doesn't want you putting crazy engines in because you again could hurt someone ( now whether you agree with that is a different story) at least that's the logic they made the law with. How could you ever hurt someone with a jail broken ps3? "
Fair enough, it wasn't worded quite correctly.  I didn't mean that you're able to stick a jet engine in your car and drive it on the street, just that you as a consumer have certain rights when it comes to a car that you own. "
Yes, but you still failed to prove your point with it. Your right is to do with your property as you please, it's America BRO. If it becomes at safety issue then a law will be passed to stop it. Also I am not attacking Sony's right to ban people from the Playstation network but I am saying they should stfu if I want to jail break my stuff. Also to be fair you can do whatever you want with your own car you just can't take it on public streets!
#38 Posted by Toms115 (2316 posts) -
@blueduck said:
" @Toms115 said:
" @blueduck said:
" @EvilTwin said:
" @MrRedwine said:
" @blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on? "
Apologies, but that is a horrible analogy.  What you're saying is more akin to buying a PS3 and using it to beat someone to death with.  A better analogy would be opening the hood of your BMW and being able to put whatever engine you want in it.  "
See once again you've made another poor analogy! The law doesn't want you putting crazy engines in because you again could hurt someone ( now whether you agree with that is a different story) at least that's the logic they made the law with. How could you ever hurt someone with a jail broken ps3? "
that's what the pirates want you to think. "
Ha, yeah I know thank god for Sony because at the end of the day I know it has my properties best interests in mind! "
SONY: striking fear into those bastards who want do shit with the things that they bought. 
 
what a bunch of fucking heroes.
#39 Posted by JoelTGM (5596 posts) -

great read

#40 Posted by Jams (2961 posts) -
@blueduck said:
" @EvilTwin said:
" @blueduck said:
" See once again you've made another poor analogy! The law doesn't want you putting crazy engines in because you again could hurt someone ( now whether you agree with that is a different story) at least that's the logic they made the law with. How could you ever hurt someone with a jail broken ps3? "
Fair enough, it wasn't worded quite correctly.  I didn't mean that you're able to stick a jet engine in your car and drive it on the street, just that you as a consumer have certain rights when it comes to a car that you own. "
Yes, but you still failed to prove your point with it. Your right is to do with your property as you please, it's America BRO. If it becomes at safety issue then a law will be passed to stop it. Also I am not attacking Sony's right to ban people from the Playstation network but I am saying they should stfu if I want to jail break my stuff. Also to be fair you can do whatever you want with your own car you just can't take it on public streets! "
the hacked playstation firmware update being the dangerous car and the public road being the internet where other people (Sony and it's workers) can get hurt. Sound pretty similar to me.
#41 Posted by Zippedbinders (997 posts) -

Most people who are railing against the concept of being able to "jail break" ( I fucking hate this term) a piece of hardware, in this case a PS3, are associating it directly with piracy. Opening up the possibilities of your hardware really shouldn't be a crime, but taking advantage of it to play pirated games absolutely is.

#42 Posted by phantomzxro (1577 posts) -
@XII_Sniper said:
" I never really imagined they brought heavily armed men to arrest hackers... Thought that was a movie thing.  I always assumed a cop would just knock on your door, get you to admit your name, then promptly cuff you, not this whole raid thing. Kinda ridiculous. Though what he did was wrong.  "
You said it reminds me of that scene in hackers.
#43 Posted by Tebbit (4465 posts) -
@kingzetta said:
" @CrazyChris said:
" @kingzetta said:
" they could have stolen a better game "
Ooh, edgy! "
POW! "

#44 Posted by Jasta (2217 posts) -

I've read about the Half-Life 2 theft so many times now and I still find it fascinating. 

#45 Posted by Aus_azn (2224 posts) -
@MrRedwine said:
" @blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on? "
Just because I like blasting my Saab wagon down an interstate at 112MPH doesn't mean the police approves. That's why you save it for where its legality is not an issue: a test track.
 
Here comes a similar argument with the PS3. We don't want to hear of your piracy or "hax" on PSN or the internets. Keep it in your closet.
#46 Posted by IIChristian89II (243 posts) -
@MrRedwine said:
" @blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on? "
buy a spade to wack moles, buy a truck to tow random cars, buy a golf club and use it on baby seals, buy an electric fence and set it up around a dog so it cant go anywhere, buy a phone and make prank phone calls to the fbi haha
#47 Posted by phantomzxro (1577 posts) -
@Toms115 said:
" @blueduck said:
" @Toms115 said:
" @blueduck said:
" @EvilTwin said:
" @MrRedwine said:
" @blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on? "
Apologies, but that is a horrible analogy.  What you're saying is more akin to buying a PS3 and using it to beat someone to death with.  A better analogy would be opening the hood of your BMW and being able to put whatever engine you want in it.  "
See once again you've made another poor analogy! The law doesn't want you putting crazy engines in because you again could hurt someone ( now whether you agree with that is a different story) at least that's the logic they made the law with. How could you ever hurt someone with a jail broken ps3? "
that's what the pirates want you to think. "
Ha, yeah I know thank god for Sony because at the end of the day I know it has my properties best interests in mind! "
SONY: striking fear into those bastards who want do shit with the things that they bought.   what a bunch of fucking heroes. "
I don't think anybody is in any kind of clear right or wrong here. I don't support Geohotz on this battle because i see nothing good coming out of this for gamers. All i see if Sony wins they  fine the butt off geohotz and goes back to normal while piracy continues. Or Geohotz wins and Sony puts some crazy DRM program on the system. In both cases gamers will suffer and Geohotz started this.
#48 Posted by phantomzxro (1577 posts) -

I just wanted to say  this was an awesome read thanks OP.

#49 Edited by august (3846 posts) -
@phantomzxro said:

" @Toms115 said:

" @blueduck said:
" @Toms115 said:
" @blueduck said:
" @EvilTwin said:
" @MrRedwine said:
" @blueduck:   No, you should not.  If you buy a BMW and then go on the road at 110 MPH, you are "doing what you want with something you bought", but we can all see this is not legal, not safe, and may be harmful to yourself and others.  The argument that you buying something gives you the right to do anything you want with it is bogus.  I can think of a million examples.  Buy alcohol and give it to minors, buy a gun and shoot at random cars, buy a taser and shock neighborhood animals... need I go on? "
Apologies, but that is a horrible analogy.  What you're saying is more akin to buying a PS3 and using it to beat someone to death with.  A better analogy would be opening the hood of your BMW and being able to put whatever engine you want in it.  "
See once again you've made another poor analogy! The law doesn't want you putting crazy engines in because you again could hurt someone ( now whether you agree with that is a different story) at least that's the logic they made the law with. How could you ever hurt someone with a jail broken ps3? "
that's what the pirates want you to think. "
Ha, yeah I know thank god for Sony because at the end of the day I know it has my properties best interests in mind! "
SONY: striking fear into those bastards who want do shit with the things that they bought.   what a bunch of fucking heroes. "
I don't think anybody is in any kind of clear right or wrong here. I don't support Geohotz on this battle because i see nothing good coming out of this for gamers. All i see if Sony wins they  fine the butt off geohotz and goes back to normal while piracy continues. Or Geohotz wins and Sony puts some crazy DRM program on the system. In both cases gamers will suffer and Geohotz started this. "
So... if gehotz wins Sony won't put new drm on their console? How does that follow in the slightest? The only thing that will be decided in the case is your rights vis-a-vis what you can do with a piece of plastic and metal sitting in your house. And the only thing that will decide is if hackers publish findings on new hardware publicly or anonymously. The ps3 is cracked, it doesn't matter how many people they sue at this point.
#50 Edited by beej (1674 posts) -
@Aus_azn: So if I understand this we are to now take the possibility of lost profit to be as serious as the possibility of lost life? More importantly, the analogy still fails because it's the act of speeding, not owning a car that CAN speed, which is illegal. Here's whats to gain, it's establishing the legal precedent that companies cannot exert ownership of your property within your own home, by using a legal example you're fundamentally confusing the point, the rules are set by Sony in this instance(that's why this is in civil court). If we allow a company to use the court system to fine anyone who engages in any activity which might harm their profit margins (geohotz stated purpose is the reintroduction of the other OS feature) then we are establishing a terrifying legal precedent. 
From a more specific argument, speeding  represents a present danger to the lives of others, while piracy represents a danger to profit, the act of freeing up a system does not necessarily lead to piracy.  
 
woops @replied that at the wrong person.

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