The Hacker Who Stole Half-Life 2 Is Very Sorry

In 2003, Axel Gembe got his hands on the game everybody wanted, Valve's Half-Life 2. He hacked into the developer's network and swiped the game's source code—which eventually wound up on the internet. These days, Gembe says he's "very sorry" about that.

The German hacker's actions were in-part responsible for the highly anticipated Half-Life sequel's very long delay, a crime which he eventually paid for in the form of probation. (Had Valve's plan to fly Gembe to the US panned out, the hacker's fate may have been very different.) In a new interview with Eurogamer, Gembe wants Valve, his "favourite developer", to know that he regrets what the 20-year-old version of himself did.

That includes writing the Agobot worm and being indicted by the FBI for launching denial of service attacks against a pair of US-based business in 2003.

"I would say this: I am so very sorry for what I did to you," Gembe said. "I never intended to cause you harm. If I could undo it, I would. It still makes me sad thinking about it. I would have loved to just stay and watch you do your thing, but in the end I screwed it up. You are my favourite developer, and I will always buy your games."

Eurogamer offers a retelling of Gembe's attack on Valve, the fallout of the release of Half-Life 2's code, and the hacker's failed attempt to score a job at the developer.

Valve declined to comment for this story.

The Boy Who Stole Half-Life 2 Article [Eurogamer]


    Reminds me of the Crysis 2 leak. I wonder if the hacker feels sorry... oh wait, what hacker? All I recall is Crytek complaining about 'pirates' downloading the leak. Nothing about WHO leaked it. Because it was probably from someone on the inside and a result of their own poor internal security and habits.

    The HL2 leak was pretty damn interesting back in the day, with GabeN going around to online communities and talking to users and fans. Also, all the talk of the FBI involvement and the Valve's outrage because certain licensed material like Havok was leaked as well.

      I doubt Crytek would admit they knew who leaked the game or even admit they were looking into it until they have finished their investigations. There's legitmate reasons for being hush hush when you are compromised.

      difference with the crysis leak is that it would have come of someone's demo disk.

      Having someone come into your computer system and steal it from under your nose is much worse.

      If the copy of crysis had leaked 10 months ago they would be going nuts about it because if everyone downloaded it in that time there would be a massive effect on sales when your this close to release it's not as big of a worry

        I'd argue to the contrary. Ten months ago, the game would be in a far worse state and barely playable. The beta leak was a January build and already had more than enough problems of its own.

          Reminds me of when Doom 3 alpha leaked about a year before it launched.

        very true, i wouldent be surprised at all if the leak was a marketing stunt (probebly not by the crappy marketing team they have there, but by a dev or something)

        because the google trends info doesnt lie, when the leak came out, searches for "crysis 2" doubled, ontop of the when the demo (for xbox) came out, that doubled the prior amount of searches...

        also it will hopefully somewhat force them into giving the mod tools with the game, as basicly they allready have them in this leak.

    For some reason this reminded me of Troy McClure in Edward The Penitent.

    Just try to imagine that's Pope Gabe I.

      Well, Troy McClure wasn't actually IN it, but he's meant he's in the clip :)

    I guess showing remorse for your actions is a good thing. It can't undo all of the money and man hours wasted dealing with the theft but perhaps others might learn from it...

    Ok, that last part was naive.

    It is a reminder of how your world view at twenty is so very different to 30 and 40.

    Interesting. I was all set to attack this guy and say that, no matter what he says now, he knew exactly what he was doing and what damage he was causing. Then I read the article and realised that he really had no idea about the trouble he was causing, and didn't think through who he was hurting. He owned up to what he did which is more than a lot of people would do.

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