Don't worry, Grand Theft Auto modders. Following a pretty tense past month, it looks like Take-Two will be letting gamers mod Grand Theft Auto V after all.
Back in June, Take-Two sent a cease-and-desist letter to the OpenIV modding tool kit team. Fearing a costly legal battle, the team ended distribution of OpenIV as a result.
Of course, OpenIV is a powerful mod editing software that's responsible for some of Grand Theft Auto V's most iconic mods, so outlawing the tool's distribution was a major loss for many fans in the community. Taking down OpenIV basically meant players weren't allowed to edit and mod the game. And it could have set legal precedent for the future of games modding.
But now, that won't be the case. Apparently, Take-Two isn't going to take legal action against OpenIV or single-player mods at all. So modding is given a free pass to continue. An official Rockstar Games response reveals that modding is fine, for the most part. Check out an excerpt of their statement below:
"Rockstar Games believes in reasonable fan creativity, and, in particular, wants creators to showcase their passion for our games. After discussions with Take-Two, Take-Two has agreed that it generally will not take legal action against third-party projects involving Rockstar’s PC games that are single-player, non-commercial, and respect the intellectual property (IP) rights of third parties. This does not apply to (i) multiplayer or online services; (ii) tools, files, libraries, or functions that could be used to impact multiplayer or online services, or (iii) use or importation of other IP (including other Rockstar IP) in the project."
So as long as modders aren't touching Grand Theft Auto V's multiplayer features (aka, creating cheats), then modding is perfectly legal for GTA V. No legal action will happen for single-player mods, and Take-Two will more or less allow modding projects to continue.
Since then, OpenIV has readded a download link to their tool kit on their official homepage, so people can download the software again and mod for Grand Theft Auto V.
Take-Two And Rockstar Games Are Walking A Fine Line On Mods
IP is a tricky beast. Nintendo has come under plenty of fire in the past few years for cracking down on fan games, including the Metroid fangame Another Metroid 2 Remake and the highly ambitious Pokémon title Pokémon Prism.
Over the years, fans have criticized Nintendo for making those decisions. But it isn't really Nintendo's fault. If Nintendo lets random third-party developers create content based on their franchise, then Nintendo runs the risk of letting the brand become diluted by nefarious publishers. Legally speaking, it's necessary to chase after small projects and aggressively protect the brand.
Otherwise, it signals to shoddy publishers and developers that they can play around with the IP. Without brand protection, low quality third-party titles will quickly pop up across Steam, the PlayStation Network, and the Google Play Store.
This problem has affected the modding community, too, with third-parties ripping off both popular franchises and modders. Back when The Sims first came out, a content pack called That's Life stole dozens of modding creations and resold the products in a third-party expansion pack. As LGR points out, the product was terribly buggy, low quality, and just downright disrespectful to the game's modding community.
So on some level, it makes sense to enforce IP regulations on popular games.
That said, Rockstar Games made the right call here to relax, because no one is selling or stealing GTA mods. They're just creating them. But there's a good reason for Take-Two to be so vigilant. No one wants an IP to be diluted through illegal creations.
As long as Take-Two honors mods' creative expression and allows single-player creations to run free, the Grand Theft Auto V community should be fine. But before blaming Take-Two, Nintendo, or any other publishers, remember: if IPs aren't guarded, they can become burdened down with terrible content fast. Being firm but fair is the key to making sure series like GTA and The Sims prosper without being damaged by a swindler looking for a quick buck.
Did Take-Two make the right decision? Share your thoughts in the comments below.