As of this writing, Rockstar and Take-Two have become the latest in a slew of video game developers and publishers alike to take an active, hands-on approach to handle cheaters and illicit mod makers, notably those responsible for breaking online play with anything that goes beyond the game’s limits of player capability and interaction. While previous litigation from the companies has included standard copyright strikes, cease-and-desist orders, and more, Rockstar has recently pushed for search and seizure warrants on the homes of five Australian individuals mostly responsible for the widely known “Infamous” cheat software.
The software itself, priced at nearly $60 AUD (or roughly $40 in American dollars) came with a bevy of features for single player and, of course, the GTAV Online multiplayer portion of the game, which is really where the trouble lay. The mod made itself manifest through an in-game menu, as many do, featuring options to “adjust” your character in a myriad of ways, from adding and changing your weapons to enabling a god mode and pumping your bank account full of billions of dollars, and many more. While all pretty famous GTA series staples as cheat codes, the options could be devastating for the game’s multiplayer, where honest individuals would have their gameplay stepped on and frequently ransacked and destroyed by paying cheaters.
Rockstar’s actions have included the previous legal actions, as well as a shutdown of the Infamous mod menu earlier in this year. The pursuit has now culminated in the search and seizure order as well as the isolation and freezing of the bank accounts of those involved while they are being watched--not quite in custody but left unable to develop new cheat software for any game during the investigation and possible court case. The litigation is all being handled as copyright infringement, cracking down on the alteration and re-distribution of in-game software, particularly for-profit and particularly in a manner that attacks the game’s playability and possibly its sales.
This isn’t the first time GTAV and the public’s mods have come at conflict. Last year, Rockstar and parent company Take-Two came under fire when they shut down the creators of OpenIV, a somewhat similar framework for mods and modding the game’s player base widely used that. The fans, outraged and afraid this meant the death of all mods, understandably fought back--refunding copies of the game, protesting across social media, signing petitions, and of course, dragging the game down on Steam with a massive amount of negative reviews. With pressure from Rockstar itself and the public, Take-Two relented, releasing a statement to the effect of stating precisely what mods they were after, those that could diminish the fun of playing online. Moreover, the creators of OpenIV themselves said that, while the software had never been intended for online use, it was one possible way to use it.
While the slow uprising against Rockstar hasn’t abated--with detractors even now calling for a boycott on Red Dead Redemption 2--Rockstar’s weathered these problems. Pre-emptive attacks on the game for being too similar to GTAV with a heavy focus on multiplayer have largely fallen on deaf ears. The recent controversy over Dan Houser’s statements on 100-hour work weeks has died down as well, with the reiteration that he didn’t mean anything like that for the general staff of the game, and the sudden rush of Rockstar staff heading to social media to back their company up and emphasize the truth. OpenIV has even come back stronger than ever after the dev team spent effort preventing it from wrecking online play, and has even seen work to let it hit the console scene. Also, with mods still coming out, it’s pretty much a matter of how much or how little you want to see cheaters and cheat software distributors punished for what is both a crime and a gaming nuisance.
So at the end of the day, who doesn’t want that?