Rockstar Games and its parent company Take-two Interactive have been both dragged to court, announced the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, on Thursday. According to the suit the companies engage in unjust business practices by concealing pornography in an “M” rated game, “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.”
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was released in October 2004, and was thereafter found to have pornographic material hidden in it in July 2005. The finding resulted in GTA’s rating being changed to “Adults Only” or “AO” and caused Rockstar to stop the distribution of the game later that month.
According to Rocky Delgadillo, Los Angeles City Attorney, the companies broke the law by failing to reveal the pornographic scenes. If it would have been disclosed right away, GTA likely would have been labeled “AO” and most retailers would have refused to carry it due to store policies.
Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and other retailers pulled the game from shelves after the revelation that the scene was indeed not a hack and was made by the company.
“Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” sold around 12 million copies before this rating change, making the company some $600 million. In California alone, the Attorney’s office estimated 200,000 copies have been sold at a value of more than $10 million.
In prepared remarks Delgadilo said, “Greed and deception are part of the ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ story — and in that respect its publishers are not much different from the characters in their story.”
The LA Attorney’s office is asking that the companies surrender a portion of the profits made from GTA: San Andreas before the disclosure, and ensure consumers that in the future the company would be more honest as to its activities.
The two state statutes that Take-Two and Rockstar are accused of violating each carry a maximum penalty of $2,500 per violation.