L.A. Sues ‘Grand Theft’ Makers Over Allegedly Slipping in Porn

L.A. Sues ‘Grand Theft’ Makers Over Allegedly Slipping in Porn
Rhett Pardon
LOS ANGELES — The City Attorney’s office has filed suit against the makers of “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” for allegedly deceiving consumers by hiding pornographic material inside the video game.

In the suit filed on Thursday, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo accused Rockstar Games and its parent company, Take-Two Interactive, of failing to disclose the porn content to get the game onto shelves of major retailers that do not carry games rated "Adults Only 18+."

“This is not an effort to regulate pornography,” City Attorney spokesman Jonathan Diamond told XBiz. “This is a matter of material being inserted into a video game to get an M rating.”

The suit focuses on allegations that the New York-based companies knowingly deceived the video game ratings board and flouted California’s Business and Professions code to market the game as suitable for teens.

Diamond said the makers further deceived consumers by first claiming that hackers had modified the original version of the games, then announcing a week later that the sex scenes were written into the original game code.

The game, released in October 2004, features characters that commit crimes such as murder, drug dealing and pimping. The game also allegedly had the embedded "mini game" in which characters could engage in explicit sexual acts.

Nearly 200,000 copies of "Grand Theft Auto," one of the best-selling in video game franchises history, have been sold in the state. Diamond did not have figures on sales in the city of Los Angeles.

The suit demands that Take-Two and Rockstar Games stop marketing the games to children, pay fines and return $10 million in profits.

Last year, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board slapped a restrictive "adult" rating on "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" because of explicit sex scenes, known as "Hot Coffee," that allow players to engage in virtual sex acts.

The board launched a probe and took the unusual step of changing the rating on the game to "Adults Only 18+" (AO) from "Mature 17+" (M).

"Businesses have an obligation to truthfully disclose the content of their products — whether in the food we eat or the entertainment we consume," Delgadillo said in a statement, noting that his office is focusing harder on the marketing of video games.

A Take-Two spokesman declined to comment to XBiz on Friday.