Fallout 4 Player Leaks Unreleased DLC As A Mod, Gets Shut Down By Bethesda

Fallout 4 Player Leaks Unreleased DLC As A Mod, Gets Shut Down By Bethesda

For a while now, some lucky Fallout 4 players have been able to play unreleased DLC as a part of a closed beta held by Bethesda. Anyone participating in these tests is technically under a non-disclosure agreement. Things haven’t really been working out that way, though. From the very first Automatron DLC beta back in March, spoilers for unreleased additions to Fallout 4 floated around the web sometimes weeks in advance from the actual release. For the most part, this was never a big deal: the DLC released thus far hasn’t been particularly story heavy, with most of the additions being purely mechanical. Anyone that stumbled on a “leak” didn’t really have a reason to get upset.

Far Harbor, however, is more of a story-oriented DLC in that it asks you to take on a new case with your old detective pal, Nick Valentine. This in turn makes spoilers for Far Harbor more of a serious deal — and boy, have the spoilers been out in full force lately.

Screenshots purporting to show shocking twists made their way onto websites like 4chan and Reddit, and then trickled down to websites like YouTube. Some players appeared to be trolling, much in the same way some players went around spoiling Fallout 4’s ending back in 2015. Other players, amusingly enough, were breaking NDA to assure others that Bethesda had fixed many of problems that plagued Fallout 4, especially when it came to implementing strong RPG elements. One of the screenshots, which now appear to be wiped from file hosting site imgur, showed “skill checks” — a mechanic that was largely absent from vanilla Fallout 4. Another screenshot included a Harpoon Gun, which Bethesda had cut from main game, as well as a new vault. We haven’t played Far Harbor and can’t confirm any of these details, but it is yet another instance where players are influencing the narrative around a release before the developer itself actually can. In this case, what players are saying is actually positive, however.

Fallout 4 Player Leaks Unreleased DLC As A Mod, Gets Shut Down By Bethesda

But the biggest leak to hit the Far Harbor beta was, well, the entire DLC. Not only has Far Harbor already been uploaded to torrent sites, last weekend, one player uploaded the DLC to modding hub Nexus. Just, the entire $US24.99 ($34) Fallout 4 addition was up for grabs for anyone that found it. While the mod has now been taken down, a cached version of the page tells us that, at minimum, nearly 800 people downloaded it.

“[The mod] was taken down because Bethesda asked us to as it contained copyrighted material that was uploaded without permission from the original creator (in this case, Bethesda),” Robin Scott, owner of Nexus Mods, told Kotaku. “Such actions are a flagrant breach of our well known strict rules.”

For the rest of us, Far Harbor releases on May 19. Hopefully, we won’t get too spoiled on the DLC before then.


  • Non-disclosure agreements: a powerful tool in the past

    But if NDAs are simply going to be ignored ‘for the lols’ don’t act surprised when the publishers enact new, stronger policies in regards to their calendar releases.

    • Great points!

      My 2 cents? Releasing photo’s, story or stat spoilers, short-vid clips is always going to happen; NDA or not.

      But taking a to-be-released product (DLC) and then through a clever bit to hacking, releasing it to a public site like Nexus is really pretty low and I’d seriously hope was indefensible. I use Nexus, its a great web site for fan-built mods, enhancements and so on. But to release “retail” just because you can and because the NDA you signed is meaningless – well, that’s makes you a douche.

      Totally agree that publishers may need to enact new, and stronger NDA’s and maybe not open up their products to public beta’s. Who knows.

  • I wonder how difficult it would be to have a player’s steam id encrypted and then embedded into the source file. Then, whenever a game is released on steam, the download also signs the file with the player’s ID. Thus, any pirated games could be immediately tracked back to the source of the download. What’s more, the entire encryption scheme could be spread across the entire file using salting and hashing to make it near impossible for the downloader in question to identify what parts of the downloaded file are their ID.

    • This, im surprised this hasnt already been implemented, because honestly its not going to impact the game experience like other DRM, and all its going to do is allow the companies to track the source of the pirate copies alittle easier. Maybe if they dont do it in full games they could atleast do it in beta files they supply to testers so shit like this means they can come down on the offender like a tonne of bricks.

      • There’ll be a way to circumvent it once it’s known, which most likely will become spread knowledge after the initial ban or whatever happens.

        If they can’t remove it outright I see them either linking to dead/dummy accounts or worse, linking to other innocent accounts.

    • The problem with this kind of scheme is that if everyone is being served up a different version of the data files, they can’t easily use a CDN to reduce distribution costs.

      Also, if two beta participants were to collude, it wouldn’t be too difficult to work out where their data files differed. If the watermarks didn’t constitute an active portion of the data file, they might even be able to delete or scramble the watermarks before leaking the data.

      • Well, the thing is, they wouldn’t necessarily need to make the changes big. So slight variances in file sizes (e.g. 16 to 32 bits) would’t be much cause for alarm. Moreover, this isn’t a DRM, this is a distribution tracking mechanism. E.g. finding the source of a lost file. As for scrambling the watermark before leaking the data. The watermark could be embedded into required source code, meaning if the watermark was scrambled, the entire application would break.

        Once again, this isn’t a DRM, but a tracking tool, so the implementation of such a crypto watermark wouldn’t come to the forefront of most crackers minds. Even so, they’ve succeeded in doing what they set out to do, release a pirate copy of X software, unbeknownst to them, however, the developers know exactly who sourced the pirate copy.

        The arms race would be on, forcing greater watermark encryption, and conversely, better watermark detection by crackers! ./pulls out popcorn

  • Are news websites technically under NDAs? If someone who has an NDA leaks information to you and you leak the information, the only person that NDA applies to is the person who signed it. At least that is how I thought it worked.

    • No, they aren’t. NDA only stands between two parties, anyone outside of that isn’t technically liable (but they’ll damn sure try)

  • I’m nearly 200 hours into my game. I will hopefully be done shortly…. then on to this huge DLC

  • Why don’t they just test it themselves, with paid employees? It’s way easier to enforce an NDA when the software is on your machines and you know the testers face.

    • bias & diversity
      they absolutely would have an in-house testing team though I’d imagine it’d mostly be for hunting bugs, when they actually want to know whether or not a game/mechanic/etc is actually fun or they want feedback on it then you’re going to need to throw it out to other people, hell just as many different people as possible, from people who’ve never played games before to hardcore fans just so you can get as many different points of view as possible. Not to mention the fact that you typically don’t want to use many of the same testers over and over again

      & afaik a NDA isn’t so much ‘don’t do thing’ as much as it’s ‘if you do thing then you never get to do thing again’

      • Dude that’s what focus groups are for, you don’t need a distributed test for that, you do it on-site.

        *Edit* Addendum: it also says this was a beta test. Betas are for bug fixing so diversification of the testing team isn’t even necessary.

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