Arrests made in game code theft

  • Associated Press
  • Friday, June 11, 2004 9:00pm
  • Business

SEATTLE – Authorities have arrested suspects in a case involving the theft of software blueprints for the hotly awaited action computer game “Half-Life 2,” the FBI said Friday.

FBI Agent Ray Lauer in Seattle confirmed the arrests but would not comment further because it is an ongoing case being investigated by the Northwest Cyber Crime Task Force, a group of federal, state and local investigators.

Game developer Valve Corp. said in a statement that arrests had been made in “several countries,” and lauded video game fans for providing thousands of tips that helped lead to the arrests.

“Within a few days of the announcement of the break-in, the online gaming community had tracked down those involved,” said Gabe Newell, Valve’s chief executive.

Lauer wouldn’t say when or where the arrests were made, how many people were involved or what charges the suspects might face.

The theft of the source code for “Half-Life 2” – a follow-up to the popular shooting game “Half-Life” – shocked the gaming industry last fall. The stolen code was circulated over the Internet, although security experts said it could not actually be used to play the game.

Valve, based in Kirkland, quickly called on gamers to help track down the theft. Many fans feared the theft would delay the game’s release or make it easier to create ways to cheat.

The game originally was to have been released late last year. Now, Valve is hoping to deliver it to publisher Vivendi Universal Games this summer, and it may be on store shelves by fall.

It’s not the only time source code has been let loose on the Internet. Earlier this year, Microsoft Corp. said incomplete portions of the blueprints for Windows 2000 and Windows NT4.0 had been illegally made available online. Experts feared the leak could open the dominant computer operating system to more security vulnerabilities or provide an advantage to competitors.

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