Take-Two Interactive has gone on a takedown spree recently, forcing a number of popular Grand Theft Auto mods to be shut down and have their files deleted from hosting sites. A common thread among mods targeted is that they all either overhaul existing GTA content, or port the content of one GTA game into the engine of another.
This sudden change to the company's stance on fan made mods - which aren't created for a profit - has sparked some outrage among the modding community, but also speculation due to the specific nature of mods targeted.
It was also pointed out that Rockstar Games' official statement regarding modding that was published in 2017 surrounding the OpenIV controversy was edited quietly - and the original statement has been scrubbed from almost everywhere, including the Wayback Machine.
Among the mods affected is GTA: Liberty City, Vice Cry, GTA: Underground, Vice City Overhaul and more. We suspect these projects were targeted because they feature unofficial remasters or remakes of official GTA games, or bring over entire maps and other assets from one game to another. Additionally, their names are often mistakable for an official GTA product.
As disappointing as this is, the modding community could see it coming - even when Rockstar released a statement about mods back in 2017 which allegedly gave the green light to any project that is single-player and not made for profit, the statement was specifically composed in a vague manner stating that legal action "generally" won't be taken, and that regardless of the statement Take-Two reserves the right to torpedo mod projects at its discretion.
The modding community at large often suffers from the legal departments of AAA publishers descending upon popular projects, even though these projects are being distributed for free and do not compete with any product of said companies. However, in this case, we suspect that the latter stipulation might be in play - we just don't know it yet.
Again, all of the mods affected remaster, remake or overhaul the content of past GTA games. If Rockstar were to release official remasters or remakes of 3D era titles like GTA 3, Vice City or San Andreas, these mods would be direct competition. No such project has been announced yet, but there is some reason to believe it may be the case.
Later this year, a native port of GTA 5 will be launched on Xbox Series S/X and PlayStation 5. The most credible GTA 6 leaks to date point to the sequel not being on the books for several years. Remasters of classic GTA games - something the fandom has been shouting about for decades - would be the perfect way to fill those years in between the two releases.
While official remasters of classic GTA games would be the silver lining to all this, the takedowns being issued still sting - countless hours of dedicated work stemming from a love of the series gets buried, just like that. This doesn't paint a pretty picture of Take-Two's appreciation of its consumer-base, and when companies get this draconian with enforcing the modding community is when said modders move to other franchises. It's a lose-lose.