The drama between modders, Rockstar Games, and Take-Two Interactive continues to unfold. Rockstar has issued another statement, this time on singleplayer mods in general. And, there's some potentially hopeful news as to the fate of singleplayer modding tool OpenIV.
First, Rockstar Games has added a topic to its support page in regards to singleplayer mods for the PC versions of its games. This is obviously in response to the controversial decision of GTA publisher Take-Two Interactive shutting down OpenIV. Take-Two declined our invitation for further comment, and Rockstar initially only issued a brief statement, but it seems it has a little bit more to say today.
Under the question "Are Single-Player mods Allowed?" the answer is as follows:
"Rockstar Games believes in reasonable fan creativity, and, in particular, wants creators to showcase their passion for our games. After discussions with Take-Two, Take-Two has agreed that it generally will not take legal action against third-party projects involving Rockstar’s PC games that are single-player, non-commercial, and respect the intellectual property (IP) rights of third parties. This does not apply to (i) multiplayer or online services; (ii) tools, files, libraries, or functions that could be used to impact multiplayer or online services, or (iii) use or importation of other IP (including other Rockstar IP) in the project. This is not a license, and it does not constitute endorsement, approval, or authorization of any third-party project. Take-Two reserves the right to object to any third-party project, or to revise, revoke and/or withdraw this statement at any time in their own discretion. This statement does not constitute a waiver of any rights that Take-Two may have with respect to third-party projects."
I imagine this is supposed to be reassuring—here are the rules, so everyone is clear on what you can do and what you can't—but I still think it's problematic, as the statement is more than a bit vague. Take-Two "generally" won't take legal action against singleplayer mod projects that don't infringe on third-party IP rights and don't impact online play. But they still might take legal action, plus they reserve the right to modify or completely withdraw this statement in the future.
For modders embarking on singleplayer mod projects that may take them years to complete, even those that completely play by the rules described here, this isn't reassuring. What this really says is that you can do everything right, you can color within the lines, and you still might get a cease and desist order. Modders will be risking countless hours of work on a "reasonable" creative project, but could still lose it all.
On the more hopeful side of things, Rockstar has told PC Gamer that it is now in contact with the developer of OpenIV. That's certainly a positive step forward, and will hopefully lead to a more constructive resolution than a complete shutdown of the modding suite. When we have more details on this, we'll update our story.
It's worth noting that the reference to "tools, files, libraries, or functions that could be used to impact multiplayer or online services" is more or less the reason Rockstar gave in its initial statement about the shutdown of OpenIV. I'm not sure what resolution can be reached under those guidelines, but if both sides are talking, at least there's some hope.