Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of Grand Theft Auto's publisher Rockstar Games, continues to go after cheat developers. In Australia, that recently included obtaining a court order to search the homes and computers of the alleged developers of the “Infamous” mod menu cheat. The developers' assets were also frozen by the Australian government.
The searches, first reported by Torrent Freak, targeted five individuals alleged to have been behind the Infamous cheat for GTA Online: Christopher Anderson, Cyrus Lesser, Sfinktah, Koroush Anderson, and Koroush Jeddian.
The search order identified two Melbourne locations to be raided, allowing lawyers to enter the target residences and vehicles to search, copy, and remove all relevant evidence, computers, or storage devices related to the Infamous cheat. Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games are both identified as "applicants" for the search order. Two lawyers from the Bird & Bird law firm representing Rockstar and Take-Two were part of the "search party" that was allowed to look through their computers, along with independent lawyers and an independent "computer expert."
The Infamous cheat allowed players to effectively do pretty much anything they could imagine in game, from quickly accessing the best vehicles, weapons, and perks, to making blood, guts, and fireworks magically erupt from in-game character models.
The court orders in question also prohibit the mod makers from creating or using game cheats under risk of imprisonment, and placed a freeze on the developers’ assets, Paypal, and cryptocurrency accounts, prohibiting them from withdrawing anything more than modest living expenses.
“You must not remove from Australia or in any way dispose of, deal with or diminish the value of any of your assets in Australia (Australian assets) up to the unencumbered value of AU$286,609.80 (the Relevant Amount),” the order states.
Neither Rockstar Games or Take Two Interactive responded to a request for comment.
Infamous is one of several “mod menus” or third-party cheat programs that players access by loading specific files onto a PC or a modified last-gen console, letting users do pretty much anything they can imagine in GTA 5’s online and offline modes, ranging from creating clone armies to making money rain from the sky.
The Infamous mod menu website went offline roughly six months ago. Until then, the developers had been charging users around $40 for a “Platinum Lifetime Membership.”
While the cheats can be entertaining for users, they can obviously undermine enjoyment for users playing fairly in online modes. Such cheats can often be quite profitable for developers, who can charge everything from a one-time fee to a subscription rate. Unless they use a PC, users also need to buy a modded last-gen console, running anywhere from $200 to $500 (US).
Take-Two Interactive has been historically hard nosed about shutting down cheats, going so far as to even shutter programs that modify Grand Theft Auto’s single player mode. The entertainment industry at large has also increasingly tried to claim that single-player cheats and mods violate copyright, a claim copyright experts routinely contest.
In contrast to Take-Two’s more scorched earth approach to the problem, Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar Games has sometimes taken a gentler approach. It has occasionally intervened to stop Take-Two from shuttering free single-player mods and cheats that can actually improve the in-game experience without ruining GTA Online for non-cheating players.
While one can understand Take-Two wanting to protect the integrity of GTA Online for non-cheating players, the company’s heavy-handed tactics continue to raise hackles. Meanwhile, online or off, such efforts frequently amount to little more than a game of Whac-a-Mole, since for every cheat taken offline, several more pop up in their wake.