For a video game series all about irreverent satire, Rockstar takes its legal control over Grand Theft Auto extremely seriously. The studio and its parent company, Take-Two, are notorious for crackdowns on mods and fan projects, but now it appears they’ve gone after one of the original creators of GTA himself.
Rockstar North co-founder, Michael Dailly, accused the company of forcing him to remove prototype footage that inspired the series from YouTube with a copyright strike against his channel. “I see Rockstar are going full fuckers mode again, issuing copyright strikes to any GTA video they can find - including both my prototype videos,” he tweeted over the weekend. “So now they’re trying to block all release of anyone’s work on a game - and any old development footage.”
Dailly, Rockstar, and Take-Two did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this year, Dailly uploaded two short clips to his YouTube channel showing off the early prototypes for an isometric city that he built, and which would go on to form the basis for the first two GTA games. He had previously only tweeted out screenshots of what he described in 2019 as the “isometric rendering engine” that later evolved into a “rotating isometric engine.” “Then I built the “Top Down Perspective Engine” that went on to become GTA1,” he tweeted at the time. The footage on YouTube is now gone.
“For those asking - yes, I’ve now removed all GTA dev stuff. Only direct examples of my own work are left - work that was never used in GTA, but “inspired” parts of it’s evolution,” Dailly tweeted over the weekend. “You can thank Rocksuck.”
Dailly was one of the original members of DMA Design, joining shortly after it was founded in 1987. He’s best known for one of its first hits, Lemmings, and for later generating some of the design work that would eventually form the basis of the first GTA game in 1997. But GTA publisher, BMG Interactive, was purchased by Take-Two Interactive a year later, leading to the departure of Dailly and others, and DMA Design was eventually folded into Rockstar Games as Rockstar North.
In addition to Rockstar and Take-Two recently going after a number of GTA modders over copyright violations, older versions of GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas were pulled from Steam ahead of the Trilogy Remastered’s release. GTA 1 and 2 were also previously pulled from Valve’s storefront, and there’s currently no way to purchase them. One retro gaming fan likened the latest copyright strikes against Dailly as further “history erasure.” The reported takedown demands come just ahead of GTA’s 35th anniversary.