In case you thought Rockstar Games’ acquisition of Grand Theft Auto V creator group Cfx.re meant a brave new era for open modding in the hit open-world game, don’t worry, publisher Take-Two is still going after fan projects it doesn’t like. Case in point is its recent sacking of a mod called Sentient Streets, which used AI technology to generate NPC conversation dialogue on the fly. Take-Two had the mod scoured from both YouTube and NexusMods, leaving its creator confused and discouraged.
The Sentient Streets mod, which was previously covered by a number of sites like IGN and Eurogamer, had a story that revolved around an AI-worshiping death cult and NPCs whose dialogue was randomly generated by a tool called the Inworld Character Engine. YouTube user Bloc, who created the GTA V mod, said a video showing it off had over 100,000 views before it was removed, while the mod itself had apparently been downloaded over 3,000 times before NexusMods, where it was hosted, took it down.
“Perhaps this occurred automatically, but the evidence suggests a deliberate manual DMCA takedown request from them,” Bloc wrote in a post on YouTube. “I also didn’t get any response back [from Take-Two]. It looks like they are just attacking [the] mod from all fronts.”
Rockstar’s parent company has a long history of going after fan projects, mods, and other unsanctioned creations, from sending DMCA takedowns to filing lawsuits and even reportedly sending private investigators to players’ houses. At the same time, vast role-play communities and the third-party mods and servers that sustain them are a massive part of GTA V’s enduring significance and popularity.
It was both surprising but understandable then when Rockstar recently announced it would formerly partner with Cfx.re, the development team behind the FiveM and RedM mod communities for GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2, respectively. “As a way to further support those efforts, we recently expanded our policy on mods to officially include those made by the roleplay creative community,” the studio wrote in its announcement.
It’s not clear why Take-Two appears to have singled out Bloc’s mod for termination, but it could have something to do with its integration of the third-party Inworld Character Engine, made by Inworld AI, and voices by ElevenLabs. The latter ompany, which has a $100 million valuation, creates AI-generated voices through a combination of random sampling and contracted performances, it told IGN. It’s not hard to see that raising all kinds of potential red flags that don’t apply to standard mods that simply add or change in-game assets and gameplay mechanics.
Take-Two and Bloc did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“Knowing that large corporations can issue strikes based on arbitrary reasons, which can cause your work to go in vain in moments, is also discouraging to say the least,” Bloc wrote in their post.
Correction 8/17/2023 9:00 p.m. ET: Inworld Character Engine was made by Inworld AI not ElevenLabs.