“STALKER 2: Heart of Chornobyl” is an action-packed video game for Windows, which sees players pitted against violent mutants and greedy thugs against a backdrop of the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
The first-person shooter game, developed by Ukraine-based GSC Game World, is hotly anticipated by fans of its prequel “STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl,” but isn’t scheduled to be released until December 2023.
Part of that delay may be down to the fact that some of GSC Game World’s development team are otherwise occupied – helping fight Russian invaders in real-life.
But the fight between GSC Game World’s employees and Russia is also taking place digitally.
On Sunday, the makers of the STALKER games revealed that a hacker has leaked development material stolen from the company’s systems, and is threatening to release tens of gigabytes more if ransom demands are not met.
Recently, our employee’s account for a collective work-with-images application was hacked. The responsibility for this was claimed by a community from a Russian social network. They are threatening to use the obtained data for blackmail and intimidation. This is not the first attempt to hack and leak our data, including personal information. We have been enduring constant cyberattacks for more than a year now. We have faced blackmail, acts of aggression, hacks, attempts to hurt players and fans, and efforts to damage the development process or the reputation of our company.
We are a Ukrainian company, and like most Ukrainians, we have experienced many things that are much more terrifying: Destroyed houses, ruined lives, and the deaths of our loved ones. Attempts to blackmail or intimidate us are completely futile.
Our unwavering commitment to supporting our country remains unchanged – we will continue to do everything possible to support ukraine. And this won’t change in the future under any circumstances.
Despite the attempts to break us, we remain strong and courageous. Because when you believe in something and love it with all your heart, you have to defend it at all costs.
We have been through a lot. However, these challenges only encourage us to work even harder because we believe that the truth is on our side. Evil will never win.
In the event of any leaks. We ask that you refrain from watching or distributing information about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl. Outdated and work-in-progress materials may dilute the impression of the final idea that we have put into the game. We encourage you to stay patient and wait for the official release for the best experience possible. We believe that you will love it.
We’d like to express our deepest appreciation for our loyal community. We are overwhelmed by the response and support we have received from you. Thank you for that. From each and every member of the gsc game world team.
Our mission is to commit all of our strength and passion to complete the project and deliver it to you, despite all the obstacles on the way. Your support is our inspiration.
Glory to Ukraine.
The GSC Game World team
And what are the hacker’s demands?
Oddly enough, the hacker doesn’t want money.
In a post on the Russian social media site VK (also known as VKontakte, effectively the Russian version of Facebook), a statement was posted demanding that the game have Russian voice acting reinstated (it was removed following the invasion of Ukraine), apologise to players based in Russia and Belarus, and unban an acount on the game’s Discord channel.
The hacker claims to have in their possession the full storyline of STALKER 2, descriptions of cutscenes, concept art, global maps, and more.
What they have done by hacking into GSC Game World’s computers is clearly illegal, but they are also obviously quite a fan of the games:
“Don’t let STALKER die because of your politicization – stagnation is already felt very seriously, which means it’s time to build relationships with the community.”
The hacker says that GSC Game World has until tomorrow, Wednesday 15 March, to respond to their demands.