Take-Two has sent private investigators to a YouTuber who leaked information about Borderlands 3. Afterwards, the user had his Discord server shut down, and had numerous copyright strikes made against his video.
On April 29th, the official Borderlands YouTube account uploaded a trailer for Borderlands 3, where in they introduced the ” ECHOcast Twitch Extension”. In short, it allows players to link their Twitch and Shift accounts.
In return, viewers could find out details about a streamer’s equipment and skills. Viewers could also win in-game Borderlands 3 items as prizes by watching certain events on Twitch. At the 0:50 to 0:53 mark, you can see how this is simulated with an account name appearing made of random numbers and letters.
At the time, the Twitch account “xfvkhjrvufoqpn3qwvmggipsd” had 57 followers, all with similarly random names. It is likely those accounts were either used to simulate features during the May 1st livestream, or for testing. While those accounts have now been closed, YouTube user SidAlpha presented a screenshot of the Twitch account while it had followers in his video discussing what had occurred:
Individuals noticed this, and followed the accounts to be notified when they began streaming. While the accounts were private, the live broadcast thumbnail would show a screenshot of gameplay. Viewers such as “SupMatto” managed to find these screenshots, and publicized them openly.
SupMatto is a YouTuber specializing in Borderlands content. According to Kotaku, SupMatto had covered alleged Borderlands 3 leaks, many of which were accurate. IGN states he even leaked information prior to the game’s PAX East reveal earlier this year.
His information allegedly came from unknown sources, or his own fans finding information on websites such as SteamDB (which has been known to list games and DLC before their public reveal).
On July 25th, two private investigators hired by Take Two Interactive (who parents 2K Games, the publisher of Borderlands 3) arrived at SupMatto’s house. SupMatto released a YouTube video on August 6th, recounting his ordeal after legal counsel:
“On Thursday July 25th, Private Investigators showed up to my home, trespassed on my private property and questioned me. I was very tense as many of you could imagine, having two people in suits you don’t know show up to your home. As lawyers, law enforcement and family have said, I probably shouldn’t have spoke to them. But I did, because I don’t feel I have anything to hide.
They questioned me about various things relating to my channel, the livestream that was discussed on my channel- which we will get to later- and they told me they were from Take-Two Interactive. I later after researching on LinkedIn discovered that they were contracted by Take-Two and that they have a private firm, where they do various things that private investigators would do.
We discussed Steam DB, The rainbow rarity which was found in the code by Kobe, and more. I don’t remember it all because as I said it was tense, and I was definitely uneasy. But I think we spoke for maybe 30 or 40 minutes.”
SupMatto then explains how others discovered the Borderlands 3 screenshots via the aforementioned Twitch account, and it was posted on Reddit and other social medias- bringing it to his attention. SupMatto then followed an undisclosed number of those accounts.
He continues, explaining the next day he found seven copyright strikes across videos on his YouTube channel, made by 2K:
“So from there- the next day on the 26th- I received seven copyright strikes, and one of them still stands. I don’t know how the others were revoked. I’ve wondered if YouTube helped [Take-Two], or YouTube helped me out, or maybe they were retracted, I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for you, I’m not going to assume.
Now according to the YouTube rules, if you receive four strikes in three months, that’s it- and the channel is terminated which I fully expected to happen, and it didn’t. As I said, some of the strikes vanished so the channel stays for now.
These strikes were manually placed by 2KCMS and the only one that remains is set to expire at the end of October.”
SupMatto then reveals this was actually the second incident to occur to him. After the investigators had left, his Discord account and Discord server was shut down due to :
“Now let’s address the Discord Server. After the PI left within maybe 20 minutes the Discord server was gone, it was terminated, my account was terminated, and that account and server were terminated for- and I quote- “Being involved in selling promoting or distributing cheats, hacked or cracked accounts.” It says nothing about who claimed that this was going on, whether it was Discord or elsewhere. Again, I won’t assume who did it.
I will say that of course I haven’t done those things, but I will say that the email also appears to be very automated. So it’s probably just a catch-all. I’m sorry to you guys and girls that thought you were banned, I’m sorry that you don’t have a place to chat. I feel guilty about that, and I’m also sorry for ignoring hundreds of you, but as I said, I had to figure out exactly how I wanted to handle this.”
SupMatto then clarifies that he closed his own Twitter account to limit the amount of questions and “theory-crafting”. He admits that happened irregardless, and that was partly the reason he made the video.
He then explains his YouTube videos will be on hiatus while he “figures out” what he wishes to do, and see how he feels in September. He explains how he needs time to “decompress,” not only from YouTube videos but from the Borderlands franchise after playing for “seven straight years.”
Since then, #BoycottBorderlands3 has been trending on and off on Twitter. Some have defended the boycott, while others express their belief that SupMatto had done wrong or a boycott would only harm the developers at Gearbox Software.
In addition, ire has been thrown towards Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford due to his comments in regards to the Epic Store timed-exclusivity, alleged misappropriation of company funds, and allegations of hostile comments to consumers.
On August 8th, YouTuber “LegacyKillaHD” tweeted claims from a source that “63 Copyright Claims have been filed against SupMatto and his [YouTube] channel will be terminated in 7 days.” In addition he claims these videos were all Borderlands 3 related, and some were just lore or discussion videos. These claims seem to be true, as a later tweet draws attention to SupMatto’s channel’s community tab.
Therein, many videos within the last 8 months are shown to be no longer publicly available. When clicking into those videos, all of them are due to copyright strikes by 2K Games Inc. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27], or are unavailable for unspecified reasons [1, 2].
The situation may be far worse however, as a playlist of SupMatto’s “Unlisted LiveStream VoDs” containing 110 videos only has 33 remaining.
Editor’s Note: Some archived links may display that a video is no longer available, when the original stated it was due to a copyright claim.
On the same day, A representative from 2K Games spoke to Kotaku about the incident, claiming the video was “incomplete and in some cases untrue.”
“Take-Two and 2K take the security and confidentiality of trade secrets very seriously. [The company] will take the necessary actions to defend against leaks and infringement of our intellectual property that not only potentially impact our business and partners, but more importantly may negatively impact the experiences of our fans and customers.”
The representative reportedly “declined to provide further information on Take-Two and 2K’s investigation.”
IGN reports that a statement from 2K revealed “a complicated 10-month investigation initiated by 2K and Take-Two into prominent Borderlands 3 leaks.”
“Take Two and 2K take the security and confidentiality of trade secrets very seriously. The action we’ve taken is the result of a 10-month investigation and a history of this creator profiting from breaking our policies, leaking confidential information about our product, and infringing our copyright.”
2K’s statement also claimed the Twitch streams were private, and not public as SupMatto claimed. In fact, SupMatto said “This was all very public, and it [the ECHOcast trailer] was shown to about a 185,000 viewers at this point.”
At no other point does SupMatto explain whether the streams were set to private or public in that video. However, we cannot confirm if he stated otherwise in the now deleted YouTube videos discussing what he posted from the Twitch previews.
The statement further claimed SupMatto had exploited Twitch’s security to “datamine” the game via thumbnail previews. “Not only were many of his actions illegal, but they were negatively impacting the experience of other content creators and our fans in anticipation for the game.”
In addition, IGN makes the allegation that “According to sources familiar with the matter, previously listed perks on SupMatto’s YouTube channel allegedly offered access to a private Discord channel that included further Borderlands 3 leaked information in exchange for a $5 membership to his YouTube channel.”
While such a membership did exist (image via LegacyKillerHD’s video), we only have the conflicting words of 2K and SupMatto on whether he did distribute leaked information in exchange for money.
LegacyKillerHD alleges in his video on the matter that SupMatto used information that was already public knowledge in the (now deleted) videos using the Twitch preview “exploit.” In addition, he confirms and defends SupMatto deleting some of his videos- stating it may have been out of concern of more copyright strikes.
He also claims to have spoken to those that were in SupMatto’s Discord, and that they refute IGN’s claims that there was exclusive leaked information in exchange for a membership fee. Any discussion was allegedly based around talking to SubMatto, the Borderlands franchise, and any publicly available information on Borderlands 3.
This is not the first time Take-Two have used private investigators against those they believe have legally wronged them. In November 2015 PC Gamer reports a modder had been visited by two private investigators asking them to cease work on the “FiveM online multiplayer mod.”
“Just got a pair of PIs at my door claiming to be sent by Take Two, handing me a phone with a person somewhere in the UK or US or whatever to ‘discuss how to cease my activities with regard to Grand Theft Auto’ “.
The article was later updated with a link to Reddit of a modder allegedly working on the GTA:MP also had a similar incident. However, both stories cited Reddit posts where the contents of the post have been deleted or are now blank. Only the former Reddit post had been archived.
In case you missed it, you can find our thorough hands-on preview for the game here, straight from this year’s E3.
Borderlands 3 launches September 13th for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. What do you all think? Sound off in the comments below!