Rockstar’s hotly anticipated Grand Theft Auto VI (GTA VI) received an unexpected bit of viral marketing this week when a leaked trailer featured a prominent “Buy $BTC” watermark.
The unexpected Bitcoin endorsement set crypto heads talking and even gave Bitcoin’s price a short-lived pump. Helping to prove the truism that—when under the right circumstances—Bitcoin will pump in response to just about anything.
The chaos began in the afternoon of Monday, December 4, when a low-quality version of the GTA VI trailer leaked online, two days before its planned release.
Shortly after the leak, Rockstar Games took the unprecedented step of officially releasing the high-quality trailer to get ahead of confusion about the leaked version. They posted “Our trailer has leaked so please watch the real thing on YouTube” and included a link.
Crypto enthusiasts celebrated the unexpected marketing boost, with one user tweeting the leaker “shilled our bags” by promoting Bitcoin. Prices quickly rose over $700 (approximately 1.2%) but settled back down after the initial hype.
While Bitcoin’s cameo didn’t last long, it did generate a tidal wave of interest for GTA VI. Rockstar’s trailer tweet amassed a staggering 11.8 million views in just over 30 minutes, putting it on track to become Twitter’s top gaming post ever.
At the time of writing, 16 hours after the trailer had dropped, the views currently sit at approximately 71.2 million.
It’s not the first time hackers and internet ne’er-do-wells have tried to take advantage of mass attention to spread the Bitcoin message. On July 15, 2020, a major Twitter security breach meant 130 high-profile accounts (including former President Obama) were hacked to promote a Bitcoin scam . Perpetrators, using social engineering, accessed Twitter’s administrative tools through employees and posted tweets on these accounts, promising to double any Bitcoin sent to certain addresses.
Hype around the upcoming eighth mainline game in the GTA series has reached a fever pitch (we’re not including the games on handheld consoles like the PSP games in the 2000s , as good as they were).
The first major leaks from the game came just days ago from the son of Aaron Garbut , the current head of development and co-studio head at Rockstar North. Although it’s unknown whether Garbut’s son is the same individual behind the ‘Buy $BTC’’ watermark on the leaked GTA VI teaser trailer.
From what we can tell, GTA VI will follow in the spiritual footsteps of GTA: Vice City, a game released in 2002, and set in a 1986 world based on Miami Beach. Fans of the game will fondly remember its peak neon lights, and loud eighties shirts—including the one worn by the game’s protagonist, Tommy Vercetti.
GTA VI looks to be taking inspiration from Vice City, but with a 2020s twist. The game’s two main characters, a man and a woman, are romantically involved. It is also the first time the franchise has featured a female lead.