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GTA modding tool OpenIV shut down by legal threat

A damn shame

Take-Two's lawyers have allegedly shut down OpenIV, one of the main tools for modding Grand Theft Auto IV and V. The OpenIV team say they've received a 'cease and desist' letter from The Suits saying that OpenIV lets people bypass security features and modify the game, which violates Take-Two's rights and must be stopped. And so, the team have announced they'll stop distributing the tool. I'm sure it'll still float around the Internet unofficially, but this is a terrible loss.

OpenIV is the tool people use to fiddle in GTA's data files, changing and adding models, textures, and other assets. Not every mod uses OpenIV but Take-Two shutting it down is a huge blow to GTA modding. It's a modding scene which creates everything from movie-making to gang wars and Iron Man.

The OpenIV team say they've received a cease and desist letter saying that, with the tool, they "allow third parties to defeat security features of its software and modify that software in violation Take-Two's rights". They will not fight this. They explain:

"Yes, we can go to court and yet again prove that modding is fair use and our actions are legal.

"Yes, we could. But we decided not to.

"Going to court will take at least few months of our time and huge amount of efforts, and, at best, we'll get absolutely nothing.

"Spending time just to restore status quo is really unproductive, and all the money in the world can’t compensate the loss of time.

"So, we decided to agree with their claims and we're stopping distribution of OpenIV.

"It was a hard decision, but when any modding activity has been declared illegal, we can't see any possibilities to continue this process, unless top management of Take-Two company makes an official statement about modding, which can be used in court."

This would be an unpleasant move at the best of times but good grief, OpenIV is hardly a secret Take-Two have just discovered. The first version came out for Grand Theft Auto IV in 2011, and GTA V support launched in 2015. The Suits let a modding scene grow and thrive, then years later swoop in to stop it.

This timing might have something to do with OpenIV's work on a tool to import Liberty City from GTA IV into GTA V.The head of OpenIV says that initial contact with the suits, back in April, did demand that they stop working on and distributing both OpenIV and the (unreleased) Liberty City tool. That tool would require copies of both games as it's a converter rather than a conversion. But perhaps smooshing games together tipped The Suits over the edge, sending them into a blood rage. The ways of The Suits are inscrutable. Some say they're not even human, that they don't even inhabit our world, that they live outside time and beyond hope, joy, and pity. You'll have to ask Some about that though.

Or perhaps it's connected to Grand Theft Auto Online, GTA V's multiplayer, which is still rife with hackers. OpenIV has strictly avoided touching GTA Online but ah, who knows the minds of The Suits?

Disclosure: I vaguely know several people who work on GTA but none of them intimately enough to have any fun anecdotes. Sorry.

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Grand Theft Auto IV

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Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.