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The Boy Who Stole Half-Life 2

News & Rumors Other

Who doesn’t remember E3 2003? The entire gaming community, caught by total surprise with amazing footage of HL2? A release date just 4 months away? It seemed like a dream come true, really. Until July rolled around, and Vivendi announced that the game would not make September 30th. Gabe responded with the legendary: “First time I’ve heard about this.”

And oddly enough, it seemed as though HL2 might make September 30th. At least until Valve went into what seemed to be a total media blackout towards the end of summer. Apart from mentioning that HL2 would make the previously announced release date, no footage or details on the game were released. It seemed almost surreal… well, until September 23rd rolled around, and Valve announced that HL2, just one week before its planned release date, would be delayed until the holidays. Immediately, the fans went crazy. But one thing people weren’t expecting was one fan leaking the entire game and its source code onto the Internet.

The Boy Who Stole Half-Life 2

On the 2nd of October, HL2’s source code was leaked to the net. Just 5 days later, after many whispers and rumors, came the bombshell: the entire game was leaked to the Internet. Who was behind the break-in? 21-year old (now 28) Axel Gembe, who maintains that he did not actually leak the files himself. Valve and the FBI intended to lure him onto US soil, but the German government caught wind of the plan and apprehended him themselves. He was sentenced to two years’ probation in 2006.

He spoke to Eurogamer about how he got started with hacking, how he broke into Valve, and what the repercussions were. It’s a very interesting article; even if some parts bear a strange resemblance with Geoff Keighley’s “Final Hours of Half-Life 2”, which we will cover some time in the future.

In any case, check out the article:


  1. actually this is a story that comes up alot and it brings a bit of sorrow to me, just cause someone hacked in and was watching, they got the blame for the leak, yet the leaker just hoped in the back door and popped in and someone that could have been there to prevent future security problems was blamed or a leak he didn’t do…

  2. The article is great! I had no idea of the history behind leaking of Half-Life 2 before this. You have to read it!


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