Two Grand Theft Auto Online mods were shut down by Take-Two this week, and both groups of modders claim private investigators visited them in person.
The founder of FiveM, a project that created an alternate version of Grand Theft Auto Online in which mods could be used, claimed he was coerced into closing the project when PI's showed up at his house.
Here’s what he wrote on Reddit:
"I just got a pair of PIs at my door claiming to be sent by Take-Two, handing me a phone with a person somewhere in the UK or US or whatever to 'discuss how to cease my activities with regard to Grand Theft Auto', that 'they know what happened before with Activision and want to not get the lawyers involved at this time', however they 'have tested their legal standing already and are quite certain of their point' and 'aren't willing to accept any solution other than ceasing my activities',” he wrote.
"Oh, they also 'couldn't disclose any conversations they're having with other modification developers', didn't want to talk about general modification policy as 'it was just about my case' and admitted they 'looked through my source code'."
When asked if he recorded any of the conversation, he replied: “Sadly not, phone volume was too low to be picked up externally.”
The creators of FiveM were banned from the Rockstar Social Club (and thus from GTA Online) back in August. At the time Rockstar said that the mod contained "code designed to facilitate piracy".
The other mod project closed by Take-Two this week was GTA: Multiplayer, with a couple of its developers also getting a visit from private investigators.
"Take-Two Interactive Inc. have contacted us and they asked us to stop GTA: Multiplayer, because from Take Two's point of view GTA:MP is a rival of their business," the mod creators wrote on their official site.
"Grand Theft Auto and all its content is produced by Rockstar Games Inc. and published and owned by Take-Two Interactive Inc. We, as developers, respect other developer's intellectual property and their legitimate interests. Rockstar's developers have invested so much time to create this beautiful game. We have repeatedly stated our position: We are not going to cross this line, we won't damage them.
"We clearly see that this may not only result in problems for us, the mod creators, it even may result in a Social Club ban for you, and this is something we do not want to be responsible for," they added.
"We always respected the copyright of others, and we will not stop doing so."
According to the modders, Rockstar had given them the green light before Take-Two stepped in.
"We were in contact with Rockstar Games and got feedback from them. But you have to see that Take-Two Interactive Inc. is the publisher and Rockstar Games only the developer,” they wrote.
"We have never endorsed piracy, in fact we encouraged the buying of the game and never touched Rockstar Social Club as other modifications did or still do.
"All we ever wanted is to increase the experience and gameplay feeling of Grand Theft Auto 5, we tried, we did our best, we were close to a release, but unfortunately we were not able to make it."
In the wake of an outcry from the mod’s users, the modders today reiterated that Take-Two was simply protecting its IP.
“There are a lot of rumors on the internet right now, a lot of people are hating against Take2 and Rockstar,” they wrote.
“Some may say now that all this happened because of microtransactions, Shark cards or whatever. To be clear: we do not know, but we are sure that they have a reason why they decided to ask us to stop.
“Take2 is a global player, they have to protect their commercial rights. It's the system which force them to react.
“There is another point you should think about : Without Take2 and Rockstar, we would not have this beautiful game and the opportunities to open the game for players.
“If you have a successful game and you have a lot of plans for the future, do you want that a 3rd party modification destroys your plans and maybe ruins your work which is already work in progress? We do not think so... As developers we respect the rights of others, if they do not want that we modify their product, no matter if for good or not, we must respect that.”