With every major game release that doesn't have some kind of mandatory online date verification, it is inevitable that a couple of copies get out early.
However, none have gotten out quite as early as Red Dead Redemption 2 - as some new "rumors" would have you believe. A couple of photos circulating online suggest that one or more lucky fans are already playing the game. But are these images legitimate?
The news was first reported by Gearnuke, and no publication has offered a first-hand account of this since - everyone is quoting them. The fact that this rumor only has the one source is an immediate red flag.
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Secondly, the photos aren't even in-game, but PlayStation menu shots showing previous play sessions for the game.
Such images are, of course, infinitely easier to fake than something like an in-game menu, or a screenshot of gameplay that Rockstar hasn't released yet. If you actually have a leaked copy of this hugely anticipated game and you're willing to post images of it, wouldn't you be more flashy about it?
Other things don't add up either - it can't be from a review copy, since Rockstar doesn't send out copies of their games, but instead holds review events. It almost certainly isn't a developer, since they'd be playing with their jobs with nothing to gain. Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn't have any early access schemes, unlike some other games that offer certain pre-orders access to the game sooner.
If this is a copy that got out from a retailer before the street date, that retailer will be looking at a lot of flak. We're almost a month away from launch making this one of the most brazen violations of street date if it is that at all.
Additionally, Red Dead Redemption 2 almost certainly has a date-lock as many retailers ship physical pre-orders a day or two before street date. The images shared indicate that the system used is in online mode, which would lock out the game.
However, on the very slight off-chance that this is legit and someone who isn't a dev or a journalist has already played the game, you should be very careful here on out with information related to Red Dead Redemption 2, since spoilers might begin to circulate.
As highly anticipated a game as this is, people in possession of such spoilers will be keen to share.
If you want strictly spoiler-free coverage of Red Dead Redemption 2 news leading upto and following release on the 26th of October, stick to our site, as we won't be publishing any such spoilers.