Modders vs. Hackers

PC games, and even many console games these days are often modded – meaning that smart folks from around the world take the original game as a starting point and modify it into something different. Sometimes these changes are slight, sometimes they create nearly entirely new games.

Up until last week, game companies loved modders – they’re the reason that games continue to sell years after their launch, when newer, better games have come along.

But looks like Take Two, the owner of Rockstar Games, creator of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is trying to throw modders under the bus to save their own asses. It was discovered last week that Rockstar programmers had left in code on th master discs that showed "graphic" sex between two of the characters. This code wasn’t accessible by normal gameplay, but with a mod, could be seen. Wired has an article about the background, and the political manuevering about it.

Sen. Hillary Clinton has called for an FTC investigation of the whole affair, but Take Two is trying to keep attention on the modders. Spokesman Jim Ankner won’t say whether the company is removing the sexual content from the new discs (it is if it wants an M rating, the ESRB says) but instead emphasizes that the next release will have "enhanced security" against hackers like Wildenborg.

What’s most interesting is how Take Two is running so scared, so fast. This is the group that has produced not one, but three version of Grand Theft Auto, making it more violent and graphic each time. You’d think that these guys are honestly worried about the politicans.

The company also said, in a Wednesday press release, that it’s "exploring its legal options as it relates to companies that profited from creating and distributing tools for altering the content" of the game. Ankner declined to elaborate on what that might mean, but the PlayStation2 version of the Hot Coffee hack required the use of a consumer cheat device called "Action Replay" that allows players to tweak console games, typically to get extra lives or unlimited ammo.

This is the best part though – not only are you going to try to lock out hackers (which wee all know works SO well….), you’re going to also go after the symbotic businesses that help your games continue to sell years later. Genius.

And it’s Sunday, and I’m in a good mood, so I don’t even want to start on the politic idiocy here.


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