Rockstar: OpenIV was shut down to fight GTA Online hacking

Grand Theft Auto modding tool OpenIV was shut down with a legal threat because it enabled hacking in GTA Online [official site], according to Rockstar. The makers of OpenIV announced this week that they had received a cease and desist letter from the layers of Take-Two, Rockstar’s parent company, and neither could nor would defend themselves against The Suits. And so, they have stopped making one of the major modding tools for GTAs IV and V and pulled the downloads. We didn’t have a clear idea of exactly why Take-Two were going after mod tools, but now we have a reason. A foolish reason, but a reason all the same.

OpenIV’s lead developer says that the cease and desist letter received from Take-Two’s lawyers said they “allow third parties to defeat security features of its software and modify that software in violation [sic] Take-Two’s rights.” The legalese could be read as an attack on modding itself. Not quite, Rockstar say. In a more human response, Rockstar told cheery RPS fansite PC Gamer:

“Take-Two’s actions were not specifically targeting single player mods. Unfortunately OpenIV enables recent malicious mods that allow harassment of players and interfere with the GTA Online experience for everybody. We are working to figure out how we can continue to support the creative community without negatively impacting our players.”

The OpenIV lead said in the shutdown notice that one of their rules in developing the tool was “absolutely no messing with Online” but presumably someone managed to bend it to naughtiness.

While hacking is a big problem in GTA Online that needs to be shut down, attacking it in this way is both ineffective and offensive. The official source for OpenIV might have yanked the downloads but the software still works and cheaters are hardly above searching dodgy places for forbidden things. Once software is online — and OpenIV has supported GTA V for two years — it’s out there forever. The cost of making cheating slightly less convenient is alienating some of GTA’s biggest fans.

If Rockstar are “working to figure out” how to support modding without enabling cheating, it’s unfortunate that they couldn’t come up with an answer before Take-Two’s lawyers enacted this toothless ‘solution’.

This is especially frustrating because GTA players rely on mods for new singleplayer content. While Rockstar give GTA Online a steady flow of free content updates, singleplayer is forgotten. With no singleplayer expansions announced as GTA V nears its fourth birthday, it seems modding is the only way we’ll get more GTA outside the online murderworld.

OpenIV isn’t the only tool for modding GTA so mods aren’t entirely barred, but it is required for mods which add or change assets and dig into data files. With OpenIV forbidden, GTA modding will become less interesting. Which is a shame because modders are making some great stuff.

Disclosure: I vaguely know-ish several people who work on GTA through my flatmate. Like, I know them well enough to say hi if I see ’em out but poorly enough for conversation to peter out.

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42 Comments

  1. jellydonut says:

    I’m not buying another Rockstar product again until they reverse this idiotic stance. Modding has *defined* the GTA series. Without modding there would be nowhere near the kind of community there is for GTA.

    • Da5e says:

      *Has* it?! I know a lot of people who are massive fans of the series – the types who camp outside shops for midnight launches and base their music tastes on the radio stations in-game – and I reckon about 2 of them have ever even looked into what modding is. Even I, with my powerful world eater of a computer and hundreds of hours logged on GTAs IV and V on Steam haven’t bothered with any mods at all.

      I mean, shutting this tool down is a bit rubbish, but modders are very much a bellowing minority.

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        “There’s not many of them, so let’s shit all over them. While we’re at it, let’s tell a huge lie about how cheaters are hacking our game via mods (when in fact itsthe hugely insecure p2p strategy we’ve adopted), and use it as an excuse to ban modding so we can monetise the single player aspect of this £50 game as well. Next up: buy our new red ingame t shirt for only 99p!!!”

        Sounds like a good company to defend.

      • fuggles says:

        Or you are missing out massively by not modding. Mods spawned dayZ, Dota and appeared to act as a barometer for Bethesda and bioware dlc policy. Sometimes a mod can just be a good qol like a skyrim UI mod.

        I’m happy that you think your grass is the greenest, but one day you might get into mods and be sad when they arbitrarily​ come for your community. At the least you could be curious about what mods could bring to your game for no monies.

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      Modding has defined the series for modders and those that use mods, let’s not get carried away.

    • Shadowtail says:

      Oh yes, the principle concept of unauthorized modification has been paramount to the GTA series! How dare Take-Two ever make their game the way they wish it to be played! How dare they!!!!
      It’s really funny. You’re analagous to hackers getting mad at the FBI for shutting down their hacking capabilities.

      • Doogie2K says:

        You have a very funny idea of what modding is and means.

        Like, are you new to PC gaming? Because this has been a thing for 25, maybe 30 years now. And it’s not actually illegal in any way.

        Do you also hate fan fiction because something something integrity of the original creative vision?

        • Doogie2K says:

          Lest it appear I’m simply making an appeal-to-tradition fallacy, let me clarify and point out that many of the most popular and acclaimed games today either started out as mods or can trace their lineage back to games that started out as mods. Entire genres, including the MOBA and the class-based shooter, started out as mods. Moreover, many of those mods which became games and genres got their creators hired in the industry, and many other industry luminaries started out with modding and mapmaking. Whether or not it’s integral to any one person’s gaming experience, or integral to ongoing interest in a particular game, modding is inextricably woven into the fabric of the video game industry.

          Also, again, modding is not illegal, and there’s no sensible argument for it being so, so your analogy falls apart. You can make an argument for online cheating being legally iffy, especially online games that accept real-world dollars, but that’s not what OpenIV was for. OpenIV was, as near as anyone can tell, a scapegoat for GTAO’s cheating issues.

      • upupup says:

        No, they’re not; that’s a terrible analogy. It’s a mod, not code that they injected into the base game by breaking into Take-Two Headquarters, Mission Impossible style.

        Either you’re mistaken as to what a mod is, or you’re suggesting that any and all modifications to a product are somehow morally wrong, in which case I’d hold off on making that unauthorised peanut butter sandwich. Wouldn’t want to infringe upon the original vision.

      • Jane Doe says:

        You better never play any Bethesda game, or your head will explode.

        • fish99 says:

          That myth again that Bethesda RPGs are unplayable without mods. I’ve played and finished them all without mods, without running into any major issues.

          • 7vincent7black7 says:

            That is obviously NOT what he was saying. -_-
            “You better never play any Bethesda game or your head will explode”
            Translation:
            “Since you seem to hate modding so much, you better never play any Bethesda game, since virtually everyone who plays those games uses/creates mods for them, and you will lose your shit over it.”

            Try to make an actual effort parsing meaning from other people’s arguments.

    • fish99 says:

      That’s a bit of a stretch, GTA doesn’t have the kinda modding scene that Bethesda RPGs have and that modding capability doesn’t drive GTA sales. Since GTAIII the series has sold the majority of units on console.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Ericusson says:

    Also, terrorists.

  3. gunny1993 says:

    Next time I walk past Rockstar north, I shall boo them, boo them most harshly

    Next time I walk past a take two executive, I shall throw a rock at it, throw a rock at it, most harshly

  4. Killerspinach says:

    Thank you for not being chickens and calling it like it is. Unlike some sites who have just taken Rstar’s response at face value without even bothering to look into it further.

  5. James says:

    Let’s break this down:

    “Take-Two’s actions were not specifically targeting single player mods.”

    That says it wasn’t Rockstar and that Take Two is using a hammer when scalpels are better.

    “Unfortunately OpenIV enables recent malicious mods that allow harassment of players and interfere with the GTA Online experience for everybody.”

    It just doesn’t. OpenIV BLOCKS its users from accessing GTA Online. It also cannot modify much beyond textures and characters. Even if someone found a way to use OpenIV in GTA: Online then they could have easily asked the devs of OpenIV to patch this method out rather than gutting the modding scene.

    “We are working to figure out how we can continue to support the creative community without negatively impacting our players.”

    This again suggests that it was not Rockstar’s decision. Thing is, OpenIV was not negatively impacting players, it was enhancing the game, as mods are the only way to get new single player content (thanks again GTA: Online). And, again, OpenIV blocks its users from accessing GTA: Online. This the equivalent of amputating an arm because it has a cut.

    In short: it’s bollocks.

    I suspect this is just because Take Two want ALL the money rather than most of the money. They’ve made billions of dollars off of GTA V yet the CEO is on record as saying they are undermonetising GTA. It’s ridiculous.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      My guess:
      Someone high up in Take2 said something along the lines of: “I don’t care what it takes, stop these cheaters and hackers, I want to see some kind of legal action by the end of the week or you’re all fired”.
      OpenIV was well known enough, and they could plausibly claim to a clueless executive it was being used to hack multiplayer and then they unleash the attack lawyers.

      Sure it doesn’t make much sense from a rational point of view, but “something must be done”, and this is ‘something’. Rational ain’t even in it.

  6. ColonelFlanders says:

    LIE. Blatant horseshit. OpenIV actively prevents people from using the multiplayer. If they want to prevent people from hacking GTAO then maybe they should address their p2p server strategy.

    Welp, I’m going to make a very noisy point of not buying every piece of software they come out with in future, until this decision is reversed. Shame really, I enjoy most of what you come out with, but as of the present moment you can fuck right off, T2.

  7. Premium User Badge

    MajorLag says:

    I myself prefer to play vanilla experiences that the developers intended most of the time, and as such rarely ever use mods, however this act is particularly short sighted and hostile and deserves some kind of action. So personally, I’m going to keep a look out for Take Two titles and make a point of not buying them.

    I’ll miss the new XCOM series, but I’m fortunate enough to live in a time where the market is flooded with worthy titles, so I’ll survive. It may well be that not enough people care, or are willing to forego purchasing games they might otherwise enjoy, but I don’t want to support this kind of behavior and won’t. It’s anti-gamer, it’s anti-consumer, it’s anti-freedom, and I’m going to remind the people around me of that when they think about purchasing anything Take Two has published or distributed.

  8. Pizzzahut says:

    Oh well, hackers gunna hack. Next hackerbay/cheaterarena to dismantle is Discord. Onwards and upwards non-hackers!

  9. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Yes, people use my doors to break into my apartment, so I’ve bricked up all the doors and windows.

    That way my apartment is more secure, so it’s better.

  10. fuggles says:

    Having read about this on other sites, hackers for online use DLL injections and not this app. This app is purely for single player and online hacking continues unabated.

    It comes down to money and probably modders being terrible customers by not going online to buy fun money.

  11. Optimaximal says:

    The big issue is the only way to defend against hacking in online games is with lots of server-side code that has to be built into the game from Day 1. GTA V is effectively 4 years old now, with the engine build itself likely dating back much further – to back-port huge amounts of code into it to protect against client hacks would be an astronomically huge task, likely cost prohibitive.

    I know Rockstar continues to make hay on GTA V via its online mode, but realistically they had two options – C&D the tools (& eventually block them in the game code via a patch) or allow it to continue to happen & effectively be forced to shut the online service down because it will become a wild-west scenario.

    The former continues to make them money whilst leaving the majority happy – yes, it pisses a few people off, some who will state ‘I won’t buy another GTA game’, but then deep down, we know how these boycotts always end up

    • fuggles says:

      Again, this tool is for single Player mods and cannot be used to hack GTA online. This has done nothing to stop hacking.

      • Optimaximal says:

        If the mod has been reverse engineered to enable it to be used online, then there’s your problem.

        • fuggles says:

          To my limited knowledge it has not, it is a texture and model swapping tool. It will not work if you are online.

          The problem online is with DLL injections, not this tool which has been around for many, many years.

          • poliovaccine says:

            Right, OpenIV is purely to allow unpacking of assets, so that you can read their filetypes and therefore alter/add assets of your own. It’s comparable to not being able to open a .zip file til you have the WinZip program.

            I dont know firsthand what OpenIV does to preclude any of its changes being applied online, I only know that the OpenIV devs very specifically safeguarded against that possibility, in the hopes of preventing just such a scenario as this.

            And yes, from what I understand, the hacking is all done with DLL injections, which is basically like altering your config files to give yourself infinite health or ammo or something. I dont know much about it, because I dont play GTA Online and I wouldnt be hacking it if I did (I fail to see the fun in uneven competition), but I am somewhat familiar with editing DLLs, and to my memory all you need for that is Notepad.

  12. Ham Solo says:

    “but presumably someone managed to bend it to naughtiness.”
    Or, just a thought: They are takling out their ass.

  13. goon buggy says:

    Disclamer. RPS staff dont want to do some actual investigative journalism and use the sources they know. Weak RPS weak.

  14. Dave54FL says:

    Take Two: “We are undermonetising GTA. We need to take steps to change that.”

    World: “GTA V won the video game wars. All video games are GTA V. You have all the money.”

    Take Two: “Then that’s the problem–there should be more money, so we can haz it. Hey, Steven Mnuchin, print MOAR money!”.

    World: “We give up.”

  15. Universal Quitter says:

    I think if this was the real reason, it would have been stated up front, before the flood of articles, angry forums posts, and one particularly delightful episode of the Jimquisition.

    I wouldn’t believe them in that scenario, either, but at least the story would be more plausible.

  16. SuperTim says:

    I said this on that other thread but I will just repost it here:

    I am one of those people who hasn’t bought or played GTA 5 yet (still on the earlier incarnations) but had plans to buy it when I’m ready for it.

    Of course they have all the rights to change the rules, it’s their game and we’re only licensing it. But as a business proposition, this product is now reduced into a 2-year-old game that you cannot mod on, and is not even yours, and there’s now an even greater chance that the value of the game can be decreased at will by the seller in the future.

    I’d say this product should probably be priced at 10€, max. Which is a bit sad, considering that, before they reduced the value of this game, it could have been sold for more. Then again, perhaps their “rights” is more important than the value of the product they’re selling.

    On the other hand, I can now see the possiblility of a “95% off” sale for this game, since it’s definitely not worth 59,99€ now. ^_^

  17. Arglebargle says:

    Sounds like the usual corporate BS. I will respond with my usual reaction: Not buying their games….

  18. Doogie2K says:

    Hell, I’m still annoyed that they never put RDR out on PC.

  19. teamcharlie says:

    It sounds like Take Two’s management just want GTA’s single player mode to be more boring in the hopes that more people flock to the more lucrative GTA Online, and they don’t give a shit whether their allegations of Open IV facilitating multiplayer cheating have any merit because private individuals don’t have the money to burn to fight frivolous lawsuits from huge corporations.

    That being said, I doubt Rockstar had much of a choice about whether to defend Take Two’s decision or not. So I’m not particularly mad at them or interested in boycotting any future single player content, but their online stuff can still go piss up a rope for all I’ve ever cared about it.

  20. TrenchFoot says:

    Yeah, that’s almost certainly it, knowing what we know about all companies in general. Someone in a C-suite had a bad burrito and with the ensuing indigestion felt it was necessary to stop those darn kids. Then harassed their lawyers into crafting an excuse that (of course) only casual gamers would believe.

  21. Z0d1ac10 says:

    GTA5 sucks… company sucks… so do their tactics. Play their stupid missions and make sweet F.A. for cash…. then pay through the nose upwards of a million dollars for just about everything in every DLC they release. GTA5 is simply a pay-to-play pile of garbage. I definitely won’t be buying GTA6 or any other Rockstar/T2 release…. let alone one of their stupid Shark Cards. Good luck Rockstar!!!

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