Heavens above. Rockstar has them some lawyers. You may remember that last week the Daily Star ran an absolutely ridiculous story in which they claimed that Rockstar were to release Grand Theft Auto: Rothbury, based on the events of Raoul Moat, the murder he committed, and his run from the police. You can see the full article, subsequently pulled from the Daily Star site, after Alec had the foresight to screengrab it. Yoinking the story from their site wasn’t really enough – it had spread like wildfire across the web, and it seems Rockstar aren’t the sorts to mess with like that. They’ve got money. They’ve got lawyers. I have never seen an apology like the one on the Star’s site today.
The story was patently ridiculous, and demonstrated that even a newspaper as poorly regarded (by us, at least, legal fans) as the Star hasn’t spent enough time in the bowels of the internet to have picked up on the meme of creating fake GTA box covers. That this particular cover was so poor again didn’t seem to raise a flag for them. And that’s what makes their apology so very special. Rockstar has goosed them so hard that they’ve got the Star mocking itself for its appalling journalism in its own apology.
“We made no attempt to check the accuracy of the story before publication and did not contact Rockstar Games prior to publishing the story. We also did not question why a best selling and critically acclaimed fictional games series would choose to base one of their most popular games on this horrifying real crime event.”
Pow. An extraordinary thing to write in your own newspaper.
“It is now accepted that there were never any plans by Rockstar Games to publish such a game and that the story was false. We apologise for publishing the story using a mock-up of the game cover, our own comments on the matter and soliciting critical comments from a grieving family member.”
And that’s the awful part of this story. In a typical gutterpress fashion, rather than contacting Rockstar, or even anyone in the industry who might know, they went straight to (Moat’s ex-girlfriend and gunshot victim) Samatha Stobbart’s grandmother for comment.
“We unreservedly apologise to Rockstar Games and we have undertaken not to repeat the claims again. We have also agreed to pay them a substantial amount in damages which they are donating to charity.”
We’ll presumably have to wait until the next Private Eye before we can get a clue how much that substantial amount was.
The author of this article, Jerry Lawton, had previously expressed confusion as to why the story had raised so much ire. As reported by Destructoid, in their inimitable fashion, Lawton wrote on his Facebook page:
“Baffled by the fury of adult gamers. These are grown (?!?) men who sit around all day playing computer games with one another who’ve today chosen to enter the real world just long enough to complain about my story slamming a Raoul Moat version of Grand Theft Auto! You would think I’d denied the Holocaust!!! Think I’ll challenge them to a virtual reality duel….stab….I win!!!”
Because presumably he couldn’t think of anything more unpleasant or inappropriate to have written. Anyhow, it’ll be interesting to find out if he’s still feeling in such a winning mood this morning.