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Lukewarm Coffee

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?

Comments

  1. says

    Morality follows the money. It’s as simple as that.I’m certain that if someone could find a way to make an obscene profit from combatting global warming, that would be a Republican issue in an instant.Morality follows the money.

  2. says

    Oh, but it’s never that simple. In this case, the money is on the side of claiming to have “morals.” What makes this interesting is that almost no one wants the money, which leaves Take-Two with the moral high ground and, perhaps, even more money.On the other hand, we’re definitely seeing energy companies lobbying for the continuation of subsidies for renewable energy research and production, and there are companies lobbying for the cap-and-trade emissions control systems based on being the ones who will profit from the system. The more companies that can figure out that the regulation is good for them, the less weight the others will be able to bring to bear–at least once an administration that still has significant financial stake in the more traditional energy trade is out of office.

  3. says

    The very few who did decide to take the money could always claim that their lack of numbers is irrelevant because they have the moral high ground. In fact I’d be surprised if they didn’t. After all, you know a moral person sees nothing wrong with playing a game where you steal cars and shoot hookers, but are outraged by pixellated nookie. And thank you for addressing the fact that some energy companies do see an economic advantage in creating alternatives. It seems so obvious that it would, but you can’t always expect corporations to embrace the obvious.

  4. says

    Christopher, I find myself wondering how many people claimed to be outraged because the money was available. I haven’t tracked down the source, but there’s supposed to be at least one person on record as saying they took their settlement and spent it on GTA4. But yeah, there are probably a few who are fine with the violence but tweaked by sex they’d need special software to get to. There are plenty of Americans who are weird that way.