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."
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.