Take Two Interactive, publisher of the hugely popular (and controversial) Grand Theft Auto Series, finally settled their "Hot coffee" dispute with shareholders this week to the tune of $20 million. The controversy started when a hacker released a mod forGTA: San Andreas in 2005 allowing players to have simulated (and clothed) sex with their virtual girlfriend.
It's a complicated issue, but it boils down to the fact that the simulated sex mini-game was contained on the game disc, even though it was never "supposed" to be accessed, and took hacking the game to do so. By not disclosing the mini-porn the game was able to get a mature rating by the ESRB. After the "hot coffee mod" was released the game's rating was changed to "Adult's Only" forcing many retailers to pull it until the offending content was removed and the game could be re-distributed. The re-rating and subsequent controversy caused the company's stock to drop, prompting the suit. This is actually the second lawsuit to be settled by Take Two. The first, settled last year, allowed offended purchasers of the game to get their money back. With this latest chunk of change Take Two's new management (the board was ousted by investors in 2007) is finally hoping to put this whole thing behind them.
So, let me get this straight. An easter egg likely snuck in by a group of pathetic losers who have never had a date, has caused five years of litigation, public outrage, and countless millions. Sounds pretty bad, but the worse part is what it was over. For those of you who aren't familiar with it,San Andreas puts you in the shoes of a gang leader whose job it is to graphically kill people, pimp prostitutes, steal cars, and invade and rob people's homes. Graphic beatings, murder, prostitution, guns and gangs are apparently no big deal, but showing simulated fully clothed consensual sex warrants a full scale meltdown.
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