Around here, we’re big fans of Rockstar Games, makers of the Grand Theft Auto series. One of the things we wanted to do last time we were in Edinburgh was have our picture taken at their offices on Calton Hill. We didn’t make it, for reasons largely having to do with hurricanes, but that’s another story.
Point being, not long after we were there, the Hot Coffee “scandal” broke.
You remember Hot Coffee? This was where some content not accessible from GTA: San Andreas in-game was still present on the discs that shipped. If third-party software was used on a PC, the dedicated player could see some low-polygon clothes-on nookie. Very shocking, particularly in a game where your city is being torn apart by gang wars and corrupt police.
In 2007, Take-Two Interactive, the distributor, announced that they would settle a pending lawsuit on the matter by providing up to $35 to anyone who “(a) bought a copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas before July 20, 2005; (b) were offended and upset by the ability of consumers to modify and alter the game’s content using the third-party Hot Coffee modification; (c ) would not have bought the game had they known that consumers could modify and alter the game’s content using the third-party Hot Coffee modification; and (d) would have returned the game, upon learning the game could be modified and altered, if they thought this possible.”
Nearly a year later, the results are in. There were 2,676 people who were willing to tell the world (for money) that they were shocked. That amounts to a settlement for Take-Two of about $300,000.
Nor is that all the good news:
Theodore Frank, director of the Legal Center for the Public Interest at the American Enterprise Institute, believes that the lack of claimants proves that the case was meritless from the beginning. He submits that this lack of response proves that the plaintiffs claims were overblown, and as a consequence the suit may be deemed meritless and the lawyers who tried the case will not be able to collect their $1.3 million in legal fees they are demanding from Take-Two.
The lead lawyer who may not be getting paid “doesn’t understand why so many people don’t care.” Dude. Maybe because the 21.5 million (mostly) adults who bought the M-rated game are more capable than you are of acting like grown ups–at least about a game.
Now how do we get them to do the same about everything else?