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What just happened? Not for the first time, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is impacting the gaming industry. On this occasion, it's Ukrainian developer GSC Game World, creator of the Stalker series, that's been affected. The company has suffered a data breach at the hands of Russian hackers, who are now threatening to leak the material online if their demands are not met.
GSC Game World posted a statement on Twitter yesterday stating that an employee "account for a collective work-with-images application was hacked." It places the blame on a community from a Russian social network who are threatening to use the data for blackmail and intimidation.
The company adds that it has been enduring constant cyberattacks for more than a year now, I.e., following Russia's invasion. It says that, like most Ukrainians, the team has experienced many things much worse than hacks and blackmail since the war started.
A message from GSC Game World team pic.twitter.com/rqRM0tFZmO— S.T.A.L.K.E.R. OFFICIAL (@stalker_thegame) March 12, 2023
GameRant reports that the breach was perpetrated by a group of Russian hackers going by the name "Vestnik TSS." A recent post on the Russian social media site VK includes images and artwork from the game, along with a series of demands which, if not met, would see "tens of gigabytes" of unreleased material posted online.
The demands ask for GSC Game World to change its attitude toward players from Russia and Belarus, and "apologize for the unworthy attitude towards ordinary players from these countries." It also wants RU-localization brought back to the game and the unbanning of the "NF Star" profile from the game studio's Discord channel. The company has until March 15 to meet these demands.
The VK account that posted the demands has a name that translates to "Herald of 'The Same STALKER'." The group has almost 15,000 followers and, ironically, community guidelines that prohibit illegal content and talk of politics & political implications.
GSC Game World is asking fans of the game to avoid watching, seeking out, or sharing any Stalker 2 material that might be released by the hackers as "outdated and work-in-progress materials may dilute the impression of the final idea that we have put into the game."
Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl is one of our most anticipated PC games of 2023, as what we've seen so far looks very promising. It's been delayed twice, the second time as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. The game is now scheduled to release sometime this December.