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Starfield leaker faces felony charges for stealing 67 copies of unreleased game

Copies were stolen, and then footage was uploaded online

artwork from Starfield: On a distant planet, as a giant moon sets, a lone astronaut turns their eyes to the heavens. Meanwhile, a robot welds the hull of their ship Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

The Starfield leaker was arrested last week not for uploading 45 minutes of the unreleased game, but for stealing 67 copies of it, according to a police report obtained by Polygon. Darin Harris, 29, was arrested days after uploading the footage and charged with felony theft — for theft, not leaking.

Dozens of Starfield copies were stolen from a warehouse in Memphis, Tennessee, owned by Vantiva, a logistics company that handles supply chain management and fulfillment. The 67 copies of the game are valued at $2,500, according to an incident report from the Memphis Police Department. (The actual value is likely higher. If all copies were standard editions, the total retail value would be more than $4,600. Starfield’s collector’s edition sells for $299.99.)

After obtaining the game, Harris uploaded 45 minutes of footage on Aug. 22, and the cellphone video of his screen quickly went viral — both for the nature of the footage and for the player’s perceived lack of skill. Harris allegedly sold several copies of Starfield on e-commerce platform Mercari, Kotaku reported. He later posted videos of himself shipping out copies of the game.

“Todd, no offense, man. That’s a good game,” Harris said in one video while smoking a blunt, apparently referring to Starfield game director Todd Howard. “Perfect timing, about leaving Earth and all that.” Harris continued, “They were saying I play like a beginner, ’cause I’m not a game expert; I was just trying something out. That’s a good game — y’all don’t want to miss that. Starfield, for real.”

Harris began shutting down his social media accounts days later, before being arrested and booked on Aug. 24. Local news outlet Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that police got a warrant to search Harris’ home. They found a FedEx package with a copy of Starfield sealed inside and six copies of the game across two editions, along with marijuana and three handguns, one of which was reportedly stolen. Harris told police, according to the affidavit obtained by Memphis Commercial Appeal, that he purchased the games.

Alongside the felony charge, Harris was booked on two misdemeanors — one for possession of marijuana, and another for property theft worth $1,000 or less. The felony theft charge is for property worth $2,500 to $10,000. Harris was released Aug. 25 on a $10,000 bond. He’s scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 8.

Polygon has reached out to both Microsoft and Vantiva for more information.

Update (Aug. 29): Vantiva representative Josh Heath told Polygon that Darin Harris was not a Vantiva employee, but declined to comment further “because this is an active investigation by the authorities.”

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