In what may be a portent of things to come in Grand Theft Auto 6, Rockstar Games has acquired Cfx.re, the maker of the FiveM and RedM multiplayer customization mods for Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2.
"Over the past few years, we've watched with excitement as Rockstar’s creative community have found new ways to expand the possibilities of Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2, particularly through the creation of dedicated roleplay servers," Rockstar said in a statement. "As a way to further support those efforts, we recently expanded our policy on mods to officially include those made by the roleplay creative community.
"By partnering with the Cfx.re team, we will help them find new ways to support this incredible community and improve the services they provide to their developers and players."
The FiveM and RedM mods open the door to multiplayer experiences that go way beyond the normal limits of GTA Online and Red Dead Online. FiveM, for instance, enables the use of custom cars, maps, weapons, and other content, and also allows for dramatically increased player counts. That's made the FiveM mod an essential part of the GTA Online RP (roleplay) community: As we noted earlier this year, the mod had a peak of nearly 270,000 concurrent players in February 2023, almost double the number of people playing unmodded GTA 5 on Steam.
GTA RP, as the name suggests, is all about immersing yourself in specific roles in the Grand Theft Auto world that typically exist outside the usual cops-and-robbers gameplay. It might sound a bit mundane on the surface but former PC Gamer man Joe Donnelly enjoyed raucous, occasionally bizarre adventures on RP servers as a cult leader, a paramedic, a lawyer, a tailor, the leader of a failed fight club, and a drunk Santa, among other things. It was enough to convince him that working a nine-to-five job on a GTA RP server "is the best way to enjoy Grand Theft Auto."
The acquisition of Cfx.re represents a remarkable turnaround for Rockstar and Take-Two, which spent years battling the use of the FiveM mod in GTA Online. In August 2015, Rockstar banned three of the people responsible for the mod from the Rockstar Social Club, saying that FiveM "is an unauthorized alternate multiplayer service that contains code designed to facilitate piracy." In November of that year, Take-Two reportedly sent private investigators to the home of one of the banned mod makers in order to pressure them into halting development of FiveM entirely.
But interest in GTA RP persisted, the community continued to grow, the money trucks kept rolling, and in November 2022 Take-Two changed GTA Online's mod policy to make it essentially the same as that of the singleplayer game: Simply put, as long as a mod is non-commercial, doesn't violate IP rights, and doesn't mess with official multiplayer or online services, it's okay to use.
So the acquisition is a pretty big deal for RP fans, but what makes it especially interesting is what it signals for the future. The next Grand Theft Auto game is well into development, and this acquisition makes it clear that Rockstar has even bigger ambitions for GTA multiplayer in the future.