Three Strikes And You’re Out!
Rockstar Games, makers of GTA V (Grand Theft Auto V), has really thrown their toys out of the pram this time and all because a glitch in the very game they created, allowed players to gain up to $2 million of virtual money. Known as the apartment garage glitch, if a player bought certain properties and then used a specific sequence of menu items, the trick could be performed almost ad-infinitum with players amassing millions of GTA$. It’s important to remember that this is not real money at all, yet not only did Rockstar’s parent company Take Two Interactive instigate YouTube copyright strikes against uploaded videos showing us how to exploit the hilarious bug, but they also wiped the accounts of players that had used the in-game glitch. This means that if you had been playing GTA V Online for years, with all your vital progress and in-game currency saved, Rockstar would wipe all that like the hand of God coming down from the heavens.
As I’ve reported in other articles, a YouTube copyright strike is pretty serious, unlike a copyright claim, and three of these will destroy your YouTube account, which raises fundamental questions about Rockstar’s stance on both censorship and ethics. How can a video showing an in-game glitch possibly be the copyright of Rockstar? If that were the case, every single YouTube video of any Rockstar game would need to be removed from YouTube for copyright infringement. Not only that, but they also have a support page that highlights what you may or may not upload to YouTube in order to avoid a potential copyright strike. In my opinion, an attitude that smacks of arrogance and hubris in the extreme.
Talk About Double Standards!
Last year, Rockstar launched the Diamond Casino in GTA V Online which controversially allows players to use real money to buy chips which they can then gamble away, but not be able to cash-in if they actually win at the table. This strikes me as ambiguous and extremely hypocritical on their part, especially in light of the recent purge of players’ accounts, bearing in mind that the money they obtained through exploiting the glitch isn’t even real money. It doesn’t exist in the reality that you and I know and can only be spent in-game on cars, property, and other foibles.
Last year, Rockstar/Take Two Interactive is said to have made around $600 million in digital revenue from GTA V and yet they get their knickers in a twist over gamers exploiting a fun glitch for non-existent-in-the-real-world cash which can only be used for fantasy items made up of no more than a few binary-coded pixels.
Question: Why did I receive an alert when joining GTA Online saying that my character progress was reset?
Answer: Players found to be manipulating and abusing Property trade-ins to gain GTA$ illegitimately have had affected characters reset. As part of our ongoing efforts to maintain a healthy game environment for all players, anyone found to be abusing exploits and cheats to illegitimately gain GTA$ and in-game items may be subject to penalties including cash balance adjustments, character resets, suspensions and up to permanent bans as appropriate.
I have only ever dipped into GTA V Online a few times, mainly because every one of my visits has ended up with me being blown to pieces by an opportunist camper waiting for innocents such as me. Those people are not cheaters per se, but they do ruin the game for the many. However, the big implication here is that exploiting a glitch in the game code is more dangerous than encouraging gambling — which is exactly what Rockstar is promoting with their Diamond Casino — and should therefore be stamped on with no recourse whatsoever. I find this level of hypocrisy distasteful, especially since the company must have pulled a few legal stunts to avoid the new feature being ranked as gambling by authorities the world over. On the other hand, there’s a list of countries where the Casino feature is actually banned, at least according to the website, Rockstar Intel.
I’m not angry about Rockstar’s attitude here, just disappointed by a company that purports to promote decent behaviour in games, but then turns a blind eye when confronted by an opportunity to squeeze yet more money from online gamers through gambling which is addictive in itself. Just ask anyone who has had to walk into a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.