GTA publishers are leaving OpenIV alone after all

GTA V

Grand Theft Auto V [official site] developers Rockstar Games appear to have talked parent company Take-Two Interactive out of shutting down OpenIV, a modding tool for GTA IV and V. This is good news. The makers of OpenIV received a cease-and-desist letter from Take-Two earlier this month, prompting outrage from players, but Rockstar have confirmed that Take-Two will now focus their ire only on mods that affect GTA Online in an attempt to crack down on hackers.

Open IV has just been updated with a new version, too, so it definitely lives.

Rockstar say that “after discussions”, Take-Two have agreed that they “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. This is not a license, and it does not constitute endorsement, approval, or authorization of any third-party project.

“Rockstar Games believes in reasonable fan creativity, and, in particular, wants creators to showcase their passion for our games.”

After Take-Two’s lawyers shut down OpenIV, Rockstar said they supported singleplayer modding but the tool had enabled “malicious mods” in GTA Online. This was puzzling because OpenIV is made for singleplayer mods and expressly blocks Online. However, lead developer Yuriy “Good-NDS” Krivoruchko has since conceded to Motherboard that it was possible that some people might have managed to use OpenIV to mess with GTA Online. He swore Motherboard to secrecy over the potential methods.

Regardless, OpenIV is very much alive again. Rockstar have said they’re in contact with OpenIV, the tool has received an update, and a representative of Rockstar itself pointed us towards a fan forum celebrating its return:

That’s excellent, because it’s helped players produce some cracking mods and machinima. OpenIV isn’t the only GTA modding tool but it is required for mods which add or change assets and dig into data files.

Now, I don’t want to pooh-pooh the party, but it’s probably worth saying that Rockstar’s statement is very carefully worded in a way that it could be reversed in future. And how do Take-Two intend to allow singleplayer mods without leaving the door open to cheaters? Also, if Take-Two are going to block the importation of other IPs, does that spell an end to Krivoruchko’s grand plan to transplant the whole of GTA IV’s Liberty City into GTA V? Krivoruchko is expected to make a statement today, so we might find out soon.

31 Comments

  1. Stevostin says:

    Cheating is a massive issue happening in each and every competitive online game at a scale large enough it affects most of the playes. There are probably less than 0,5% of cheaters but as they play way more, they’re probably around 10% of the player pool for matchmaking. Any game with say 5 vs 5 has a good chance to have one cheater. If he’s in your team, you won’t notice and think you win cause you’re good (cheater tipping the balance means you also get a general advantage and make more kills). If he’s on the other side (and not totally lame at cheating) you won’t know for sure. Aimbot is one thing but skilled cheating is more about wall hack and recoil reduction. Those are very, very hard to fight.

    • Jane Doe says:

      Source?

      • meloncrab says:

        His ass.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        No idea… but I’ve played obvious cheaters in some games… They only had to cheat “once” at a moment no one was looking/they were close anyhow and no one would know.

        Cheating is a symptom of the system… sadly.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        I’m not that poster, but his/her statement is at least somewhat accurate. We have good numbers for cheaters in Counter Strike because the cheats are subscriber based and the top makers publish their subscriber numbers to advertise; and they more or less line up with that Valve has found, that there is about a one in ten chance that someone is cheating in a given game. That’s just for Counter Strike GO though, I don’t know if a thorough breakdown has been conducted for other games and if the problem is better or worse.

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    Neurotic says:

    Perhaps the phrase “cracking mods” is a little unfortunate here. :D

  3. ColonelFlanders says:

    And that’s what happens when you fuck a publisher up at the point of sale. The overwhelmingly negative moniker next to GTAV on Steam probably gave them some serious pause. Well done everyone!

    • defunct says:

      The game is one of the highest rated games in a while, and it sold more than any other game ever when it first came out. It’s also been out for over two years. Do you really think anyone really cares about that? Steam reviews are notorious for being easy to manipulate by both disgruntled people and fanboys, which is why they made the feeble attempt to change how ratings work. (wikipedia for all facts)

      • duns4t says:

        That’s the thing about bestselling, highly-rated games… even two years after launch, they have plenty of future sales to think about. Reversing a massively unpopular decision can save millions in additional revenue.

      • Ghostwise says:

        Especially since GTA5 is the epitome of games bought by people who have very few video games and zero connection to video game niche news.

      • poliovaccine says:

        “Do you really think?” Absolutely, yeah. They already made their decision – this reversal is *entirely* due to negative public reaction. I could see posing that question before this development, but yeah, the fact they one-eightied on their position tells me that they absolutely, assuredly *do* care about that.

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        Uh, given that they just reversed the decision, yeah I do really think. Whether you do it or not, millions of people that use Steam allow reviews to influence their decision, especially when a popular game suddenly gets a zillion negative reviews. That shit makes you pay attention.

        Besides even if we were all smart enough to know that Steam reviews are easily manipulated, T2 reversed their decision as a direct result of public outcry; “Do you really think” that they would have done so if OpenIV faded into obscurity with no one mentioning it?

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        Funny, this is exactly why I look at the steam reviews – if a game suddenly goes sharply negative its usually worth checking if they broke it with a patch or introduced surprise micro-payments or screwed their community.

    • StevenP says:

      I’m not sure whether Take Two really care about GTAV reviews. But I’m pretty sure they care about their stock having lost 10% of its value over the past two weeks.

  4. DeadCanDance says:

    Now, now… what I really want is to know who is going to lose his job for this. Way back and high up some suit thought this was a fine idea. All this shitstorm is his doing.

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      MajorLag says:

      You know better than that. Peons lose their jobs over pissing off one irrational customer, big-wig cocaine-snorting 80s-guy execs get promoted, drive the company into the ground with their incompetence, and ride a golden parachute to the next host corp ripe for infection. It’s the circle of life.

      • April March says:

        Yeah. A big suit now has perhaps a lower chance of getting a Christmas bonus big enough to buy a Manhattan flat in cash. Or, more likely, the big suit who made this decision is far away enough from the action that he can entirely lay blame on some poor employees who actually executed it. The most soothing thing we can think of is that said employee(s) was probably a lawyer working for a megacorporation.

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    MajorLag says:

    Well I’m glad Rockstar was able to talk some sense into Take-Two. I’ll remove them from my personal shit-list for now, but I doubt that they’ve actually learned anything from this experience so it won’t take much to get them back on it for me.

    In the meantime, I can now make a decision about whether or not to buy the new XCOM DLC based on its merits (or lack thereof), which is good.

    • April March says:

      Well I’m glad Rockstar was able to talk some sense into Take-Two.

      I don’t know why you think Rockstar was the one who spurred Take-Two into action. Mostly because devs don’t have much say with publishers (although Rockstar might be an exception, being Rockstar) but also because that sentence reads to me as “I’m glad Chairman Mao was able to talk some sense into Stalin.”

      • desolation0 says:

        Well, at least the public company line is that Rockstar stood up to Take-Two. Interestingly this bit doesn’t mention any other developers’ games being off limits for the sort of action Take-Two took this time. “Rockstar say that “after discussions”, Take-Two have agreed that they “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”.”

  6. Talahar says:

    Good to know that the devs of the premium asshole simulators are actually decent guys that are able to rub a couple of brain cells together. Humanity might not be as doomed as I thought it was.

  7. brucethemoose says:

    GTA V was a top seller on Steam before this reversal anyway. Heck, it probably cost them more money to pay lawyers for the reversal than they gained in GTA sales.

    However, those execs aren’t stupid. They saw what happened to EA… Stay in the limelight too long, and all that internet rage starts to sink into the general population. And then, you WILL lose sales.

  8. poliovaccine says:

    Awesome, awesome news. Well done, world! If you could be anthropomorphized I would clap you on your mountainous, oceanic back!

    ****warning: rant incoming****
    ****warning: rant incoming****

    If there’s anything good about this series of events, it’s that the ending proves people do still have the power, in the end.

    It’s always important to fight and petition unwelcome precedents, whether big or small, because the small ones inform and pave way for the big ones later on. I see this OpenIV story as having implications into the business world beyond just games and modding – it’s creating a precedent in how we regard consumers’ vs. corporations’ rights. In this case, it refers only to games and mods, but in the next case, imagine this scenario being made analagous with some other product..?

    Imagine if that product was cars (another popular product with a niche community dedicated to their modification). These days, there is a centralized tool for interpreting the various digital error codes in specific which present only to the average consumer as a dashboard light reading “Maintenance Required,” or some other such thing. As things stand, I dont know if a consumer-level version of that tool exists already, but one can be found at any mechanic’s anyway.

    In case it isn’t clear, I’m making out OpenIV as being analagous to this digital-readout tool for cars – both “unpack” proprietary forms of data into something people can read and work with. (There are obvious differences, but for the sake of analogy it’s close enough, I think.)

    Now, imagine if General Motors decided that access to this information allowed the bypass of certain security features (as to whether or not such a concern is justified in this analogy, let’s say that, as with OpenIV and cheating, it’s just plain not). So let’s say they ban this tool – recall it, discontinue it, make criminal its use. Now, when your dash lite reads out, “Maintenance Required,” you cant just pop into your friendly, neighborhood mechanic’s to discover what is meant. Now, you *have* to take your car to a central GM or GM-licensed location (or whatever variant for whatever other manufacturer), where they, with the few other big auto makers, hold what is functionally a monopoly over the industry of automotive repair itself. In due time, automotive repair will cease to be a common trade, as *all* relevant or necessary information will be either proprietary, or else accessible and interpretable only via proprietary tech/equipment. Automotive repair will no longer be a trade you can take up as an independent entity – you will be employed in service to one of the major auto manufacturers, and you will only be legally or practically able to service that particular company’s cars.

    Automotive repair will no longer be learned in trade schools – it will be learned as part of job training. And it will be a state or even federal government job, like working for social services, or being the train conductor on the MTA’s subways.

    This will be because, between this corporate monopoly and lobbyists of their interests, these enormous auto companies will win exclusive government contracts, federally subsidizing the automotive industry in much the same way as public transport (a move which, by that point, the public will welcome with open arms, personal automobiles having meanwhile become an out-of-reach luxury item for all but the most affluent as a result of this monopoly). We will no longer have the liberty to modify or repair our own personal vehicle, no more than we are free to travel between countries without a passport. We will have an entire set of skills and abilities which contribute greatly to our personal independence taken out of our hands and placed behind a paywall – one under federal purview, no less. Of course, once this federally-affiliated monopoly comes to exist, our inability to do our own repairs will be the least of our concerns – we could be geographically prohibited from traveling to certain areas by our vehicles themselves, our movements might be not only tracked, but manipulated – already there exist “bait cars,” which are rigged by law enforcement to lock in the driver and shut off the engine if stolen, they can even be remotely operated – there’s no reason that technology couldnt be applied to civilian vehicles for any number of reasons, at least not once vehicles themselves become, first and foremost, federal property.

    This may seem utterly dramatic to imagine, it may seem dystopian and fanciful to the extreme to consider that any business would go *that* far simply in the name of profits – but it’s already happened with Big Pharma. We are very much not allowed to practice our own medicine, even on ourselves. Over time, society has come to see that standard as being utterly normal, and, as a notion, we fiercely defend it. Medicine outside of the standard social purview is not merely questioned, it is regulated-against and criminally-prosecuted. Of course, there are real reasons for that – and of course, those reasons are broadly about the public’s *safety.* One day, society may just as vehemently defend the notion that “only [in this case] *federally-licensed* mechanics should practice automotive repair!” as we currently believe that “only *real* doctors should practice medicine!” Not that I mean to question the practice of licensed medicine here, but rather, to suggest that one day that might seem just as “obvious” about mechanics and automotive repair. A person who claims to know how to fix a car without the possession of a special federal license would be regarded with the same lack of credibility as, for instance, I might currently regard a practitioner of homeopathy. What’s more, to actually perform such repairs would make them a *criminal.* It is not all that far-fetched.

    In general, any move which seeks to take away personal, individual agency for the sake of broad concerns over security is a worrisome one at best and a destructive and dangerous one at worst. Any move which seeks to take a certain element of control away from the public, only to replace it into the hands of the powerful private, is a bad move – if not in its immediate consequence then all the moreso, as the precedent/principle becomes entrenched, becomes relied-upon, becomes reapplicable out of hand. If it goes over smoothly, it becomes the default which precedes any critical evaluation.

    This may seem pretty tangential to videogames and modding, but in the legal world, when the law still leaves doubt as to how to proceed, the first place our system looks is back towards *precedent.* “Hmm.. well, what’d we do last time something like this happened?” Precedent is damned important, and it can be a huge part of how any attorney makes their case, or how any great standard is established. Precedent is absolutely, legally valid – which is why the precedent set by certain microcosms is always important to consider. These things only ever happen by degrees. And remove oneself from the particularities of “the gaming world/being a gamer” and what you see is as these big publishers see: that games are an incredibly popular and profitable entertainment product. And as a business manufacturing that product, the conventions they’ll follow will be legal ones, corporate ones – not those standards developed within the microcosmic subculture of their customers, the gamers. They have no incentive to view their customers as their peers – not unless we assert one.

    And that’s exactly what people did with these petitions and Steam-review bombings and etc. They made themselves heard however possible, and it worked. This kind of thing does actually make a difference, and I really see this as being a valuable victory for *consumers* in general, and not just gamers or games.

    Sorry for the riggedy raggedy rant. But only half sorry. Because this was all on my mind as soon as the original story broke – even before my tens of conversations with people who questioned why this should matter to anyone, why anyone would feel justified in having mod tools anyway, why this would matter to mods beyond GTA modding, why mods are even considered legal in the first place, etc. The answer to almost all of those lines of questioning is: precedent.

    As a modder myself, I see it as needing to be protected as both creative expression and a consumer’s privilege, and also as a practice and a phenomenon which is only mutually advantageous anyway.

    And cus for fuck’s sakes, like… come on.

    ****

    Anyway, tl;dr: this is a good thing that happened, and modding is the final frontier upon which the battles of everything will be waged for the stakes of everything else, forever and ever amen

    • ZippyLemon says:

      There are some pretty serious empirical lines to be drawn if fraud, even unwitting, is going to be avoided in medicine, but I totally agree with your argument.

      It’s good to see a community asserting its rights for the sake of unrestricted creativity.

    • Regicider 12.4% says:

      The approved mechanic dystopia is coming, with the autonomous car self-driving only to the approved service places when going into maintenance lockdown. Like printers disabling themselves after a set amount of print cycles or when inserting non-approved ink cartridges. It will be hard to object when insurances for manual cars will go through the roof and force everyone to rent, lease or buy a self-driving one.

      Official mod tools are also the future but through controlled marketplaces transforming modding from grass roots creativity into consumer supply-demand product.

  9. Siresly says:

    Take Two has committed to no such thing. The C&D remains in effect. The tool remains gone from anywhere the OpenIV team has control over the availability.

    OpenIV was updated to remove an uninstall prompt which cautioned users that Take Two may consider usage of the software illegal or some such. We don’t know why they decided to remove it. Take Two might’ve asked them to. We don’t know.

    Rockstar has said a bunch vague non-committal stuff that doesn’t really mean anything. Reportedly Rockstar is in communications with the OpenIV team, so hopefully that will eventually lead to some actual positive result. In the meantime, effectively nothing has changed.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Yeah, “This […] does not constitute […] authorization of any third-party project.” – sounds really weak, and almost contradictory with “will not take legal action”…

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        MajorLag says:

        It’s fairly standard boilerplate. It’s meant to keep their statement from being argued later as justifying an actual copyright violation. Now it’s true, it does technically also mean they can continue their behavior of bullying non-infringing projects, but given that that tactic relies on no case ever being brought to court anyway, nothing they wrote would ever prevent it.

        I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now, but the very first time they do anything even remotely similar they will have used up the last of that good will.

  10. brawlstars says:

    WOW. GTA V was a top seller on Steam before this reversal anyway. Heck, it probably cost them more money to pay lawyers for the reversal than they gained in GTA sales.

  11. dangrak says:

    This does make me wonder about the fate of RDR2 hitting PC at any point, seems possible that Take Two will keep it off the platform out of spite

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      Well I’m already not buying any more of their products out of spite, so joke’s on them.