from the mod-squad dept
Usually when a company does something that results in a public backlash, that company will stop digging holes. Over the summer, we wrote about Rockstar Games and its parent company, Take-Two Interactive, starting a war on modding communities for the Grand Theft Auto series. After years of largely leaving the modding community alone, these companies suddenly started targeting mods that were chiefly designed to put content or locations for older GTA games into GTA5. While the public was left to speculate as to why Take-Two and Rockstar were doing this, the theory that perhaps it meant they were planning to release remastered versions of older games eventually turned out to be true when GTA Trilogy was announced. In other words, these companies were happy to reap all the benefits of an active modding community right up to the point where they thought they could make more money through a re-release, at which point the war began.
And, as we also covered recently, the PC release for GTA Trilogy went roughly as horribly you can imagine. While the game was released and purchased by many, mere days afterwards Take-Two not only delisted those games from marketplaces, but also experienced “unscheduled maintenance” on Rockstar’s game launcher, meaning owners of that game and several other Rockstar games couldn’t play the games they’d bought. That eventually got corrected several days later, but it was a terrible look, especially when combined with how little information Rockstar provided the public as it was going on. Many paying customers were very, very angry.
So, did Take-Two and Rockstar reverse course? Nope! Instead, it seems that the war on the modding community is only accelerating.
On November 11, according to the folks over at the GTA modding site LibertyCity, Take-Two contacted them and used DMCA strikes to remove three different GTA-related mods. The three removed mods are listed below:
-GTA Advance PC Port Beta 2
-The Lost and Damned Unlocked for GTA 4
-GTA IV EFLC The Lost And Damned (65%)
So, what are those mods? Well, the first is a fan project to take the contents and storyline of GTA Advance, a Gameboy Advance game, and porting them into the GTA3 engine. So, again, a retro game port. The second is a simple mod that allows a player to play GTA4 as a different protagonist character from some DLC. Why Rockstar felt this mod is a threat is beyond me. And the third, GTA IV EFLC The Lost And Damned, is simply a save file for that DLC with 65% of the game completed. It’s not a mod at all and so it is completely unclear why this would have been targeted for a DMCA takedown, unless Rockstar wants to argue that publishing a save file is somehow copyright infringement.
But since it is happening and, just like like last time, Take-Two and Rockstar aren’t bothering to communicate about any of this, it’s all left to speculation.
Because of what happened last time, some are speculating that these takedowns are evidence that a GTA IV remaster might be coming sometime in the future. According to sources who have spoken to Kotaku in the past about Rockstar’s future remasters, GTA IV as well as Red Dead Redemption remasters are possible. Though plans can and do change and with the recent backlash facing the GTA remasters, Rockstar might be more hesitant to greenlight future re-releases.
Regardless of if these takedowns are evidence of a future GTA IV remaster or not, it still is a frustrating situation for modders and community devs who have spent decades improving, porting, and maintaining the classic GTA games, allowing fans to play them years after Rockstar had moved on. Kotaku spoke to some modders who seemed fed up with Rockstar and many more have moved on to other games from other companies, worried about the potential legal pitfalls for continuing to mod Grand Theft Auto titles.
And so the modding community for Rockstar games gets at least a little less vibrant. Maybe the company is fine with that, but they damned well shouldn’t be. As we’ve discussed for years, modding communities are great for game companies. They keep old games fresh, keep up interest in older games, make old and new games more interesting and appealing by inputting new content, and basically work almost solely to provide free content to game companies as labors of love.
Why Rockstar and Take-Two would want to bite this hand that very much feeds them is a mystery to me.