Starfield leaks began blowing up across the internet last week after 29-year old Darin Harris allegedly stole dozens of copies of the game from a warehouse and started selling them online. One Reddit user immediately reported the leaks to Bethesda and Memphis police, and he’s now been banned from the r/GamingLeaksAndRumours subreddit after posting about it.
I know this because the commenter in question, Jasper Adkins, emailed Kotaku to inform us it had happened. “It seems to me that the subreddit is running on ‘bread and circuses’ mode mixed with bystander syndrome,” he wrote in his initial email. “They’re perfectly willing to ignore a crime that hurts a developer they claim to support, in exchange for a few minutes of shaky gameplay filmed from a phone.”
r/GamingLeaksAndRumours, one of the biggest hotspots for insider gaming info and speculation on the internet, has indeed been in rare form lately. After Harris uploaded the first 40 minutes of his playthrough and it began to make the rounds on the subreddit, it was like a dam broke. One of the most anticipated open-world sci-fi RPGs of the year, and possibly the decade, was finally getting into people’s hands ahead of schedule.
Commenters on the subreddit picked apart every new screenshot and piece of footage for new information. One of the most popular leak posts recently? Evidence that you can grab ledges, a first for a Bethesda RPG. Despite the criminal charges against him, Harris has become something of a folk hero within the community of fans hungry for Starfield leaks. As The Commercial Appeal reported, memes hail him as “Lord Tyrone” (his middle name) and one player even vowed to name their Starfield ship “Memphian” in his honor.
Adkins hasn’t been part of the ongoing bonanza though. He was banned from r/GamingLeaksAndRumours on August 24 shortly after posting about how he tried to help get Harris arrested. “An officer at the station told me so himself when I called him about it,” he wrote in the middle of a long comment thread. Adkins soon received a notification that he had violated the subreddit’s rules.
He protested, but the r/GamingLeaksAndRumours admins weren’t having it. “Just not interested in having someone here who takes action against the community like that,” they wrote back.
I reached out to one of the subreddit’s admins to confirm what had happened and the thinking behind the ban. “If he just did it I wouldn’t think badly of him but to come on the sub and brag about calling the cops on the dude just rubbed me the wrong way,” one of them told Kotaku in a DM. “Might unban him at some point but for now he’s behind the bars of the internet.”
“I am now a pariah of that subreddit,” Adkins wrote in his initial email. “I get it, hype and excitement are at an all-time high. I’m just as excited as the next person, but I draw the line at theft. I was raised to believe that crime doesn’t pay. I had hoped our society, and so-called Bethesda fans could be held to a higher standard. It seems that is sadly not the case.”
Adkins showed Kotaku screenshots of his communications with the Memphis PD and Bethesda to demonstrate that he did in fact reach out with links to video footage of Harris’ Starfield leak and tips that the copies of the game may have been stolen. “Hey, you got him!” Adkins wrote to the police officer at one point. “That was fast. I just saw that on Reddit (r/gamingleaksandrumours).”
It’s not clear whether or not Adkins’ actions ultimately contributed to Harris’ arrest. According to an affidavit filed in Shelby County, it was the Vantiva warehouse who first told the MPD about the alleged theft. “I feel like my information helped connect the two faster than it would have been,” Adkins told Kotaku. He said he still lurks on r/GamingLeaksAndRumours and remains excited for Starfield’s release.
“No doubt the community will vilify me, while criminals are elevated to meme and legend status,” he wrote. “It’s no wonder why people are losing faith in humanity.”