GTA Online’s Typical DLC Leak Seemingly Plugged

For the first time, the game files yield no answers

Import/Export was an “ending” DLC in many ways. It ended GTA Online’s run for 2016 in terms of new content and it also might have ended the long-standing trend of leakers discovering data about upcoming updates based on data mining. Either that, or they’re keeping the info to themselves.

Rumors and leaks have been a part of the GTA Online culture for almost as long as the game has been around. Everytime a new update is released, the folks on PC would fiddle with the game-files in ways they’re not necessarily supposed to, and soon images of 3D models would be published on various sites.

These screenshots are usually accompanied by descriptions of features, such as new jobs and Adversary Modes, which have been deduced from other data discovered in the game files. Such discoveries, usually proven with screenshots of unused assets, are the ones which turn out to be true.

Of course, occasionally leakers make crap up as they go, hoping that their BS won’t be called out simply because they have found a stray 3D model to back up their guesswork. We’ve said many times before, no source other than Rockstar itself is to be trusted regardless of how legit it may look from the outside.

But how do these leaks even happen, anyway? Well, the answer is pretty simple: optimization. Rockstar wants to make things easier when the update itself actually launches and makes use of these mysterious assets by pre-loading a chunk of them. The pre-loaded assets are then used for testing purposes, as well as the implementation of any code that needs be added.

Later when you’re downloading a ‘new’ DLC, you’re actually just filling in the missing spaces left behind by the preloaded content. All the while the next update you don’t even know about is being quietly set up in the background too.

“But wait, if I’m downloading half of the current DLC and half of the next, in the end, it’s not a smaller download, so how does this help me?” I hear you ask, and a valid question it is. See, this method doesn’t necessarily help reduce download sizes and times, but instead helps ensure stable launches.

Preloading the core framework of the update (hence leakers being able to deduce the exact nature of the content) gives Rockstar’s engineers a good month or so to iron out any bugs they might catch, as well as fine-tune the various aspects of any new feature added to the game with the update.

This is why, in spite of the relatively short time in between DLCs, the updates don’t launch as horribly unoptimizied, buggy, literally unplayable trainwrecks. Instead, when the update launches, usually everything is up and running with no major and very few minor bugs to be afraid of.

However, this left the backdoor open to Rockstar’s cache of secret content – or rendered it unguarded, at least. While on the one hand, this helped them optimize content releases, their announcement schedules didn’t mean much seeing as the community was usually well aware in advance of what to expect from future DLC.

Leaks with pretty much all the details of a given update went out weeks ahead of the official announcement, and while they never contained all the info, they revealed enough to always spoil any kind of surprise the dev team had in store for GTA Online. The leak giving away pretty much all of Executives and Other Criminals was a spectacular example of this.

All sorts of info about the update, with the yachts in the foreground, was revealed by data-mining previous DLCs’ game files for various tidbits of information. The same could be said about a number of other updates since, though we ceased reporting on leaks in detail some time ago.

However, something has seemingly changed. It’s been a solid month since the release of the Import/Export DLC and not a single leak has sprung in that time, at least none which are backed with data from the game files. In fact, Import/Export itself wasn’t leaked before release. The only leaked information we got concerns the additional cars that are being added as mini-DLC to expand on I/E, such as the Itali and the Nero before it.

As for what comes after Import/Export? Not a single clue. Of course, your typical lineup of fake leaks, people mistaking idea pitches as leaks and your regurgitated story DLC rumors are all floating about the internet, because this is still games journalism here. But nothing that seems to be legitimate information has arisen.

It is unlikely that no-one went looking though. GTA 5 is still a hot topic on the internet three years after release, and having sold 70 million copies, it should be. Anyone who discovered actual true info about a future update would be thrust into the spotlight and the discovery would generate a whole lot of clicks.

So if it isn’t that, the only explanation can be that the leak was plugged. Somehow Rockstar figured out how to hide the assets related to upcoming DLC in a way that prevents data miners from extracting any useful information to be posted on sites dedicated to GTA 5.

No info about new Adversary Modes, new vehicles which aren’t scheduled as minor DLC or other features have been leaked yet by anyone citing evidence from a data mine. Sure, we have that one pretty big and long-reaching leak to go on, but that doesn’t have any info from a data mine backing it up.

There are a number of reasons why leakers might not have found anything noteworthy in the game files of Import/Export. Firstly, Rockstar’s engineers could have hidden the files and relevant assets in new and unexpected ways, leading to them not having been found yet.

Alternatively, the “pre-loading method” might have been abandoned entirely for a different approach to testing and optimization. It’s possible that they’ve come up with a system that does not require any content to be pre-loaded, but rather it can be tested prior to launch on Rockstar’s internal network.

Whether there’s simply nothing left to be found, or Rockstar has hidden the content away with such cunning that not even veteran data miners have found it, is only relevant so far as the latter indicates that eventually, Rockstar’s defenses will be breached again, and updates will be leaked ahead of time, again.

On the one hand, all the buzz kicked up by the leaks always granted Rockstar some free publicity. However it also rendered their own announcement schedule essentially useless (and that schedule exists for good reason!). Rockstar didn’t make a habit of keeping info to themselves simply because “it’s their thing”, but because their marketing experts developed a system that they thought would be optimal. In fact the lack of leaks could mean that Rockstar has decided to enforce that marketing system with added protection.

Do you think Rockstar removed any telling pre-loaded GTA Online DLC, or did they hide it really well?


What do you think? Sound off below!

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