Take 2 Sues Fan Over Project To Finally Bring 'Red Dead 1' To The PC

from the red-and-dead dept

Take 2 Interactive, the famed game studio behind the Grand Theft Auto franchise, is no stranger to our pages. When we have posted about the company, however, it has typically been to highlight how many ridiculous lawsuits and threats it faces over IP from unlikely sources. There was the ongoing battle with Lindsay Lohan over GTA5. There was a strange cease and desist notice sent to the company by the infamous Pinkerton Agency over its accurate depiction in Red Dead Redemption. The point is that Take 2 has been on the receiving end of frustrating intellectual property challenges such that it really should have some perspective on better ways to handle things than to simply be as heavy-handed as possible.

But apparently that's a lesson that hasn't stuck. Take 2 Interactive recently filed a lawsuit against Johnathan Wyckoff and several John Does over what appears to be a now-defunct project entitled Red Dead Redemption: Damned Enhancement Project. The goals of the project were somewhat simple. Fans of the series may already know that the original title was never released for the PC, only the PlayStation. The original game was also released several years ago, with now outdated graphics. Using the more recently released PC version of Red Dead 2, the project aimed to put the game map from the original game into its sequel and then update the graphics from the original game to produce a more polished version of the original. Worth noting here is that the gaming public has complained about the lack of a PC port of Red Dead 1 for years, with Take 2 offering no hint that it had any intention of meeting this demand.

And yet they filed suit anyway.

In September, however, things started to go off the rails. Project lead ‘DemandDev’ took to GTAForums to reveal that development had been stopped. He didn’t directly state that Take-Two had put him under pressure but complained of being bullied by a corporation.

“They done shady stuff getting my private info and contacted my family,” he wrote. “I’ve been contacting people to spread word. I’m not letting them them bully me and keep my mouth shut. I complied and stopped progress but hopefully I can sort out this.”

Several months later, sorting it out will now have to be actioned through the courts. On December 26, Take-Two Interactive filed a lawsuit at a New York court against a Johnathan Wyckoff and John Does 1-10.

There are several layers of silliness in all of this. To start, if development has ceased as of the summer of 2019, what is the point of the lawsuit? Unless Take 2 has some kind of proof that this work has continued, this seems purely punitive in the most pernicious way possible. Add to that the fact that this development team is clearly made up of fans of Take 2's property and you have to wonder why threats and lawsuits are a better way to deal with this than reaching out to these fans and finding a way to at least bless their fan project if not bring them into the official fold and make use of their work entirely. We've made this point many times: copyright is not trademark. You can simply make a project official through cheap means without risk of losing your property rights.

Finally, Take 2's suit nods at how this project would compete with a Red Dead PC port that Take 2 has had years to provide themselves, but for which it has never shown any interest.

Take-Two’s lawsuit details two matters. The first, the ‘RDRII Project’, aims to add the full RDR1 game map to RDR2. This, the company says, would not only “dramatically change the RDR2 experience but also reduce interest in purchasing a future release of RDR1 or a RDR1 add-on map for RDR2. The company doesn’t state it intends to release either, however.

The second targets the ‘Red Dead Redemption: Damned Enhancement Project’ which Take-Two says would utilize game files from Grand Theft Auto V and RDR1 “to vastly improve the graphics and performance of the game” and enable players to play RDR1 on PC, where it isn’t officially available, “thereby destroying the market for an official, updated version from Take-Two, and creating competition for Take-Two’s PC-version of RDR2.”

To be clear, all of that is true... but then where the hell have you been, Take 2? The original Red Dead released just shy of a decade ago. I realize that development cycles can be long, but ten years for a PC port? If the company had intended on doing one to satisfy PC gamers, it would have been nice if it had been completed sometime in Barack Obama's first term. And when a fan project comes along to try and satisfy that desire, the company peels off a lawsuit?

Again, Take 2 should know better, having been on the wrong side of IP bullying itself. This was an opportunity for the company to act cool and human, but it chose litigation instead.

Filed Under: copyright, fan games, fans, johnathan wyckoff, red dead 1, red dead 2, red dead redemption, red dead redemption damned enhancement project
Companies: take 2 interactive


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 1:04pm

    'If I'm not doing it you're sure as hell not either.'

    Seems to be a pretty blatant case of curb-stomping someone who might have provided some competition to their current product by re-creating the original entry, something they could have done but didn't actually care about because why update the original when you can just force people to pay for the current version?

    I'll give them one thing though, they were right indirectly, as their actions here have just solidified the idea to avoid their games like the plague. Thuggery like this is not something I care to support, and there are always other alternatives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 1:17pm

      Re: 'If I'm not doing it you're sure as hell not either.'

      Seems to be a pretty blatant case of curb-stomping someone who might have provided some competition to their current product by re-creating the original entry, something they could have done but didn't actually care about because why update the original when you can just force people to pay for the current version?

      Except that they were remaking RDR1 as a map for RDR2.

      That's not competition with RDR2, because you still to buy a copy of RDR2 to play it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 2:56pm

        Re: Re: 'If I'm not doing it you're sure as hell not either.'

        A fair point, I suppose it would be more accurate to say that it was 'competing' with the potential re-release of RDR 1(whether as a stand-alone or dlc for RDR 2) at some point down the line(though at this point I rather doubt an official re-release was or is in the works).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 3:22pm

          Re: Re: Re: 'If I'm not doing it you're sure as hell not either.

          Except... it wasn't even competing with that. As Tim pointed out, they had options, including putting the existing devs on a contract to develop the expansion for T2, and then selling THAT. These guys weren't planning to sell it themselves, and T2 already owned all the IP being used other than the work these guys were doing.

          So T2 could easily have said "hey, we like what you're doing, we have no intention of doing it ourselves, but if you do the development work, we'll see about packaging it as an add-on and selling it, and give you $x in return for your hard work and IP.

          T2 then gets a new product to sell without all the hard work.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2020 @ 7:50am

          Re: Re: Re: 'If I'm not doing it you're sure as hell not either.

          ...it was 'competing' with the potential re-release of RDR 1(whether as a stand-alone or dlc for RDR 2) ...

          except, of course, that "competing with a future product" isn't a valid copyright violation. "Reducing the market for an existing product" is, though. As is "using copyrighted assets". But "market for future product"? naw...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Phoenix84 (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 2:52pm

    One mistake: Didn't keep quiet

    The project owner made one simple mistake: mentioning it publicly before it was released.

    Time after time, the 3rd party projects that get shut down are still in early development. The key is to keep quiet until it's done, announce and release it publicly, and that's that.

    By then it's too late.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 2:57pm

      See also: Oddity, which started out as a fan sequel to the Mother (aka Earthbound) franchise.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 4 Jan 2020 @ 3:07pm

        Re:

        But in the case of Oddity, they did mention it before it was released; they'd been developing it as "Mother 4" for almost a decade before they decided to rebrand it.

        Nonetheless, it's surprising they got as far as they did without getting a C&D. I'm glad they decided to change it to a wholly original work rather than continue to tempt fate.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rekrul, 3 Jan 2020 @ 5:10pm

      Re: One mistake: Didn't keep quiet

      The project owner made one simple mistake: mentioning it publicly before it was released.

      I've said this MANY times myself. Make it in secret, test it, test it some more, really test it and when you're sure there are no major bugs left, release it. Also release the source and resource files so that if the project gets stomped on, the underground can continue to patch and extend it.

      Openly announcing something like is just asking for it to be shut down.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 6:21pm

        Also release the source and resource files so that if the project gets stomped on, the underground can continue to patch and extend it.

        I’m not sure if the guy behind AM2R did this, but the underground has continued to patch and extend that project after Nintendo officially squashed it off the Internets.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 2:56pm

    Take 2's greed and impropriety have become so legendary...

    That I won't even pirate their recent games. I may get Borderlands 3... the all-out complete version... on the cheap in a decade. But yeah, it's a shitty company that forges shitty user-antagonistic game-schemes on the backs of forsaken children.

    And then sells out to Epic, which also makes user-antagonistic product made out of forsaken orphan parts.

    This is to say Take 2's heavy handed litigation practices do not surprise me at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 10:55am

      Re: Take 2's greed and impropriety have become so legendary...

      They also try to drag out profits from franchises that peaked long ago. BL1 was a good game (not great, but different and fun to play for a while). BL2 was the same damn game with new quests. It should have been a DLC for BL1. BL3, well... that's pure garbage. I played it for about 15 minutes and have never fired it up since. Thankfully I got it on sale.

      T2I is a company built on a couple good ideas but their well ran dry with just those 2. Now, as every failing game company does, they're trying to protect their profits by going after their fans instead of coming out with new, good games in the hopes that nobody will notice and just keep buying their original, now dated, stuff that didn't completely suck. See also: Disney.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 2:56pm

    Maybe the bad clauses of the DMCA will eventually get thrown out in one of these transformative use cases.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 3:33pm

      Re:

      More likely the good clauses will be removed to "simplify" things. Especially with the way the USSC is being stacked these days.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Boojum (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 3:08pm

    But this is what copyright is...

    That's the thing, this IS what copyright is. Copyright is a monopoly for a creator (or the owner of IP) for a work and it's derivatives. Morally? yeah, if your not going to do something with your product then let someone else try something. Legally? They are probably in the right.

    This includes choosing to only release for a single platform and blocking release to other platforms. Until the life of the author plus lots of years pass they have a monopoly on Red Dead and can do that. Do I like this? Not really, but that is how the laws for Copyright are written and enforced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 3:42pm

      You can grumble about how copyright law is written as if you can do nothing about it, or you can do something like, say, educating others and help them see what a bag of shit copyright law is right now so we can start changing those laws.

      Do nothing or do something — make your choice.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 10:56am

        Re:

        I'm curious... What are you doing apart from grumbling about copyright in these comments with the rest of us?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 4 Jan 2020 @ 1:19pm

          I lack the resources to do anything meaningful, but I can at least share stories about shitty copyright situations with people I know and help them understand why copyright sucks. They can do what they wish with that information.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2020 @ 1:35pm

      Re: But this is what copyright is...

      Which is why many ignore it.

      Copyright was supposed to be a tool for public enrichment. (The Commons) Instead it is now a corrupt tool for private enrichment. (Corporate Profit)

      Don't complain when the law is so clearly bought and paid for. Legality loses it's moral high ground at that point. Which is why the comments made by those that love pulling up ladders that will inevitably flood the comment section here are completely pointless. They either try an appeal to morality, despite the complete lack of it being the root issue here, or through threats, which only proves their own immorality.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        tp (profile), 6 Jan 2020 @ 9:12pm

        Re: Re: But this is what copyright is...

        Copyright was supposed to be a tool for public enrichment.

        If the public never bothers to create copyrighted works, obviously they cannot benefit from the copyright protections.

        Instead it is now a corrupt tool for private enrichment.

        Corporate entities decided to create copyrighted works, so they benefit.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Jan 2020 @ 9:51pm

          The paradigm...

          If the public never bothers to create copyrighted works...

          Corporate entities decided to create copyrighted works

          Ah, so corporations are people, but members of the public are not?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Jan 2020 @ 7:12am

          Re: Re: Re: But this is what copyright is...

          "If the public never bothers to create copyrighted works, obviously they cannot benefit from the copyright protections."

          By your argument no one who has ever created a copyrighted work is part of the "public". I'm not sure that's how that word is supposed to work.

          Copyright was never intended to benefit the nation or the citizenry. It was written and designed exclusively to benefit the distributors - way back when a single large guild of printers. It's only in the US interpretation that Copyright receives the justification that Congress may sanction protection in order to further progress of the science and the arts.

          It's pretty clear that if congress did it's job it would take one long look at how shit is handled stateside and make use of section 8 by withdrawing it's authorization.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 3:12pm

    "...on the wrong side of IP bullying itself."

    Sounds to me like Take 2 deserves any bullying it gets, and more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    bhull242 (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 3:20pm

    Honestly, I think the fact that the project stopped would be fatal to the lawsuit in itself. The other stuff is largely “what the law ought to be” stuff or whether this is a smart move outside of the law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 4:01pm

      Re:

      Something else which should be fatal to a lawsuit is that there was no actual release, either. What's the damage?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 8:54pm

        Re: Re:

        Knowing copyright holders? Probably feel-feels, and mystical mailing lists.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        tp (profile), 6 Jan 2020 @ 4:11am

        Re: Re:

        What's the damage?

        I don't think they need to prove actual damages, if they registered their copyrights with the copyright office...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Jan 2020 @ 7:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I don't think they need to prove actual damages, if they registered their copyrights with the copyright office..."

          Which only serves to underscore why copyright law is sheer crap.

          Imagine ANY other type of lawsuit which pans out to a judge asking about the harm caused, the plaintiff states "none", and the judge goes "Defendant needs to pay gagging bagfuls of money as determined by a wild guess multiplied by 15000".

          Ridiculous.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2020 @ 7:42am

    Take 2 has plenty of reason to not allow this fan project to go forward. You ignored the part of their suit that contends that it would compete with the PC version of RDR2, which is a much newer game that is still fairly popular.

    Really though, there's so much wrong here that could have been corrected with 5 minutes of research. It makes me feel disrespected as a gamer. Are the details so unimportant?

    Red Dead Redemption wasn't a PlayStation exclusive, for one thing. That's a weird thing to get wrong considering the subject.

    Take 2 isn't a game studio either, secondly, they're a holding company. T2 doesn't actually make anything, they just own controlling stock in other companies that do. Huge difference, especially in the video game industry.

    Give credit where it's due. RDR was developed by Rock Star San Diego, an actual game studio, not T2. Rock Star San Diego is part of the video game publishing company Rock Star Games, which is owned by the holding company Take 2 Interactive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2020 @ 8:21am

      Re:

      "Red Dead Redemption wasn't a PlayStation exclusive"

      Although it was console only, no pc ported version, which was the point as I read it.
      Either way, it's online only - right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Jan 2020 @ 7:25am

      Re:

      "Take 2 has plenty of reason to not allow this fan project to go forward. You ignored the part of their suit that contends that it would compete with the PC version of RDR2, which is a much newer game that is still fairly popular."

      Err...you realize the fan project in question was as a map for precisely that game - RDR2? In other words, if anything it would incentivize the fans to buy RDR2. No competition to anything, therefore. Rather the opposite.

      "Really though, there's so much wrong here that could have been corrected with 5 minutes of research. It makes me feel disrespected as a gamer. Are the details so unimportant?"

      Good of you to admit there was so much wrong in your post. I similarly think if you'd actually read the piece you would have been better off and not, you know, been so very, embarrassingly, wrong.

      "Red Dead Redemption wasn't a PlayStation exclusive, for one thing. That's a weird thing to get wrong considering the subject."

      The OP never claimed it was. It claimed (accurately) that it was never ported to PC. And I concur that THAT is a weird thing to get wrong considering the subject. Perhaps if you'd taken 5 minutes to read the OP you chose to comment on...?

      "Take 2 isn't a game studio either, secondly, they're a holding company. T2 doesn't actually make anything, they just own controlling stock in other companies that do. Huge difference, especially in the video game industry."

      So they are essentially only there to screw the fans of the projects in which they have a hand. I fail to see how that makes them money, but whatever.

      "Give credit where it's due. RDR was developed by Rock Star San Diego, an actual game studio, not T2. Rock Star San Diego is part of the video game publishing company Rock Star Games, which is owned by the holding company Take 2 Interactive."

      ...which brings us right back to where the blame of being fan-hostile douches STILL falls squarely on T2's shoulders.

      I'm not sure what you were after here, other than demonstrating that the only way to speak in defense of T2 is by laying the groundwork with a bunch of outright falsehoods...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2020 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re: Roadrunner email setting

    Don't be silly: Don't feed them.

    roadrunnerhelpline.com is 90 days old. It is (almost certainly) not at all related to roadrunner email. Flag the post and move on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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