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Take Two Settles Hot Coffee Suit For Millions

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the really-should-have-thought-that-one-through dept.

The Courts 46

Amidst the furor over the various Manhunt 2 controversies, Take Two has announced that it just dealt with its last big scandal, Hot Coffee. Kotaku has the release from the publisher, in which it states that the class action suit leveled against it some two years ago has ended in a settlement that may end up costing the company as much as $2.75 million dollars. "The lawsuit against Take-Two is still pending, but should the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York agree to the settlement, claims against the company will be dismissed 'without any admission of liability or wrongdoing by Take-Two or Rockstar.' The publisher says that it will pay out between $1.025 million and $2.75 million in settlement benefits, which range from an edited copy of GTA: San Andreas to a cash payment up to $35 for those who can provide proof of purchase of the game from before July 20, 2005."

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46 comments

File for the check, then mail it back to Take Two! (5, Insightful)

thealpha (308746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21293925)

I wish I had bought my copy early to particiapte in this.

I recommend to all gamers who are entitled to this refund and disagree with our government acting as our parents, to submit for your check and sign it over to Take Two, mail it back to them with a thank you note.

I have a father and am one and I don't need someone else telling me what I can and can't do with my artistic media.

P.S. Give me Manhunt 2 - AO!

Re:File for the check, then mail it back to Take T (4, Funny)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21293995)

Excellent idea. Mod parent up please. Me too if you're feeling generous.

Re:File for the check, then mail it back to Take T (2)

Cornelius the Great (555189) | more than 6 years ago | (#21294699)

I bought my copy in June '05, right when it came out for the PC so I'm eligible. The thing is, you have to submit proof of purchase (possibly receipt) to R* and they cut you the check. Needless to say, I wasn't offended at all by the hot coffee mod, and it isn't worth the effort to dig through old credit card receipts and cut up that nice DVD booklet for a measly $35 that may come next year.

Then again, I am tempted to mail in my proof-of-purchase with a letter thanking them and telling them that I don't want anything, just assurance that they'll never back down, they'll continue making great games, and that they'll keep ignoring those annoying lawyers [wikipedia.org] and so-called "consumer" groups.

But only if can sell out your integrity... (4, Informative)

doug141 (863552) | more than 6 years ago | (#21294933)

Here's the full terms, note sections B, C, and D.

Under the terms of the settlement, class members will be able to claim benefits if they swear that they: (a) bought a copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas before July 20, 2005; (b) were offended and upset by the ability of consumers to modify and alter the game's content using the third-party Hot Coffee modification; (c ) would not have bought the game had they known that consumers could modify and alter the game's content using the third-party Hot Coffee modification; and (d) would have returned the game, upon learning the game could be modified and altered, if they thought this possible. Settlement class members who attest to these facts may apply for benefits that range from an exchange of the game disk for an edited copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to a cash payment of up to $35 for consumers who submit detailed proofs of purchase.

Re:But only if can sell out your integrity... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21295563)

e) Are dishonest and fanatic enough to lie about a-d for $35.

Re:But only if can sell out your integrity... (1)

pluther (647209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21300969)

You'd only need to lie about b-d. According to the quote, you can only get $35 cash if you have your receipt. Otherwise, all you get is a free copy of the game with content removed.

It seems like they're not really going to lose much on this deal. How many people keep a receipt for a video game for two years?

Now (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21293927)

Both Take Two and McDonald's have learned that Hot Coffee can be expensive....

Re:Now (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21295989)

McDonald's have learned that Hot Coffee can be expensive....

Random off topic musing on my part, but the idea that McDonald's had to pay because of the coffee thing is completely wrong. Their insurance company had to pay because of the coffee lawsuit, not McDonald's.

what's the world coming to? (5, Insightful)

PJ1216 (1063738) | more than 6 years ago | (#21293937)

i don't understand how people can be upset about content that is effectively unlocked from the game unless you go out of your way to unlock it. how can you get offended by something you went out of your way to get, knowing full well exactly what it was? and if you didn't unlock it, how the hell are you offended by something that you can't access? i swear that this entire country is being populated by babies. people are getting offended even when they're not the ones getting insulted. its as if people are going out of their way to be offended. ugh.

Re:what's the world coming to? (1)

Gravatron (716477) | more than 6 years ago | (#21294183)

How can people be upset? Easy, because they can make money or fuel their persecution complex off it. The whole issue was a non-issue to me, as you had to go out of your way to unlock this, and two other mature games that year, Gow of War and Killer 7, had far more graphic depections of sex yet still got an M rating.

Re:what's the world coming to? (3, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21294251)

how the hell are you offended by something that you can't access?

I know it's a comparison a bit far fetched, but somehow it's just like these "concerned parents" demonstrating in the streets for they're offended because their children have access to violent video games/music/shows/movies when the said children are not supposed to be allowed by their parents to have access to it in the first place. Makes me wonder why they don't also demonstrate against pornographers for making movies that are too obscene for children or even strip clubs for not being sufficiently family-friendly. I know it's different, but when you think about it it all boils down to the problem of access.

In other news, once undressed, I'm obscenely naked.

Re:what's the world coming to? (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 6 years ago | (#21294383)

> Makes me wonder why they don't also demonstrate against pornographers for making movies that
> are too obscene for children or even strip clubs for not being sufficiently family-friendly

Ummmmm... they do.

Re:what's the world coming to? (3, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#21295391)

It is a good thing they cracked down on Take Two. If you don't push lawsuits like this the next thing you know kids will be able to find porn on the internet.

Quite easily ;) (3, Funny)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#21294525)

i don't understand how people can be upset about content that is effectively unlocked from the game unless you go out of your way to unlock it.


Bah, you obviously haven't had the traumatizing experiences some of us had.

I remember when someone made patch for The Sims that removed the pixelated blur when they were naked. E.g., in the shower. So I downloaded it.

Lemme tell you, I wasn't just upset, I was appalled. They didn't look anything like naked people. They looked like a barbie doll that someone dropped in a mud puddle. (Presumably so the contrast would look right through the blur.) Plus, not only they didn't have genitals, they didn't even have nipples.

And if you think all that's shocking so far, wait for the real horror. You know how the same blur showed up when they sat on the toilet? Well, without the blur you can see that they sit down and take a dump, without pulling down their pants first. Now that's an image that you'll wish you never saw.

So, yeah, sue their pants off, I say. Preferrably before they sit on the toilet ;)

Re:what's the world coming to? (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 6 years ago | (#21296339)

This lawsuit is for all of the parents who bought the game for their young children thinking that there wasn't any obscene content. Imagine their horror when they learned that there was unlockable sex in it!

Re:what's the world coming to? (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21304371)

Yeah, the same parents who thought a game centered around thugs and car-jackings was just fine.

Take-Two shareholder have a legit complaint (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#21297969)

i don't understand how people can be upset about content that is effectively unlocked from the game unless you go out of your way to unlock it.

If they are Take-Two shareholder I can see them being upset. Returns, replacements, refunds, lawsuits, ... Hot Coffee was a risk that shareholders had a right to know about and the lack of disclosure did warrant government investigation from the SEC. The rules are different when you are a public company. You want to take chances, do it with your own money not with uninformed shareholder's.

The rest was just political posturing, soundbites and quotes "proving" politicians want to "save the children".

Re:what's the world coming to? (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 6 years ago | (#21299917)

People are greedy and stupid. It's worth destroying our Constitutional rights to free speech just to get a couple dollars. I'm surprised they didn't sue Intel and Nvidia too as evidently if you write your own code that uses their products you can be offended by showing yourself naked people.

Most days I'm disgusted to be an American. I think this is one of those days. My fellow citizens disgust me. People get the government they deserve and that says a lot about the state the US is in.

Re:what's the world coming to? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21300113)

i don't understand how people can be upset about content that is effectively unlocked from the game unless you go out of your way to unlock it.

because it undermines faith in the ratings system and trust in the developer.

rockstar releases an M rated game with hidden AO content and when the content is unlocked - as it will be - it puts the blame on the modding community to maintain plausible denial.

from hot coffee we move on to the thinly veiled psycho kills of Manhunt 2 and to whatever mischief will be uncovered in the next iteration of GTA.

but this cannot go on forever without the industry paying a very stiff price.

the british censors have to feel vindicated in their decision to reject the edited version of Manhunt 2 and they are unlikely to be forgiving or forgetful of rockstar the next time around.

rockstar is not making it any easier for a producer to openly and successfully introduce adult themes and content into a game - and not have it tainted by talk of the pornography of sex and violence.

Re:what's the world coming to? (1)

PJ1216 (1063738) | more than 6 years ago | (#21300503)

I say more power to them. It enables them to sell the game (cause if its rated AO, its effectively banned) and then for the people who want to actually access the AO content, they can do so. The game the person purchased is STILL rated M. They have to act of their own accord to change it. It's the equivalent of having a free download for AO content, 'cept it comes pre-downloaded and you have to do a lot more work to actually get it to work. If a rated-M game offered an AO-content add-on, should the rated-m game then have to change? Everyone knows the hidden content is rated AO. Its a VOLUNTARY DECISION to unlock it and access it. If you don't want that content, then be happy with your rated-M game. It doesn't undermine anything. In fact, its better. Hell, I think games should be able to come in a variety of rated-levels and just have an option on start up. If you want a rated-T version, select it and it will run the T game. Its a voluntary decision to unlock it. If you are offended by it, don't unlock it. It's the same mentality as, "if you don't like the show, change the channel." If you don't like it, don't do it. If you're offended by 1s and 0s, well, my friend, you're a moron. The only way those 1s and 0s become a nude woman is if you set it to do so.

A person can be naked until someone takes their clothes off. If a person comes and steals my clothes, should i be held accountable because that same person was offended i was naked?

Silly settlement (4, Insightful)

faloi (738831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21293947)

But it's probably good for Take Two. Basically, if you really thought the game was horribly offensive and you're willing to swear to it, you get a brand new copy of the game that has the offensive material removed. If you're really outraged that it slipped out into public, and you want to stick it to the company, you can provide detailed receipts from over two years ago and they'll send you $35. I'm betting the take rate won't be very high on the settlement.

Re:Silly settlement (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21294077)

I bet the "take rate" from the lawyers who filed the class action suite is really really high.

I'm not sure when people will realize that class action rarely, if ever, benefits the individuals harmed and only helps the lawyers and the people being sued.

Re:Go ahead, grab a receipt from 2 years ago (1)

Psykechan (255694) | more than 6 years ago | (#21294265)

Go ahead, grab a receipt from 2 years ago. Seriously, go grab that Best Buy receipt that you actually saved for some odd reason like for warranty purposes. I'll wait.

Doesn't look like much of a receipt, does it? Actually it looks like a blank fucking piece of paper. That's because it was either printed on thermal paper or some very soft blue ink that's similar to the prankster's favorite Disappearing Ink. These things are lucky to last a month let alone two whole years. Go ahead and try to prove that you actually purchased Product X and that you didn't just find it off of the back of a truck.

Quite a crafty racket they have got there... I like to call it Purchase Rights Management.

Class action suit (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#21294225)

The "Hot Coffee" mod was so tame that I really don't see what all the fuss was about.

i just don't get it (5, Insightful)

loafula (1080631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21294379)

Junior, it's ok for you to car-jack that poor old man. When you're done, feel free to fuck that hooker and then beat her to death with a baseball bat to get your cash back. Don't worry when the police come, just mow them down with your AK-47. Woah... wait.. There are boobies in this? This is horrible and disgusting, and now fucking jesus is crying.
It just goes to show how truly fucked our morals are. I love how all the senseless violence is fine and dandy, but nudity and sex is considered evil.

Re:i just don't get it (5, Funny)

djasbestos (1035410) | more than 6 years ago | (#21294797)

And it's the opposite in Europe.

"Yes, Klaus, fuck zat bitch good, she is liking ze nasty...boobiess? So vat, ve see zem everywhere. And ze depiction of ze Schwanz going into ze Fotze. Und zen ze Scheißen und shpanken und...oh mein Gott! A veapon! You don't need to be hurting anyone, Klaus...you can vork zis out peacefully. Violence is not a solution! Perhaps you can rent a car somewhere...ze exercise vill be good for you. If you shtop, ze police vill certainly sort it aus and realize it's all a grosse misunderstand."

Re:i just don't get it (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21295667)

That thing really needed the word "blinkenlights" somewhere in it, and it would have been perfect..

Re:i just don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21296389)

Nah, too many real German words to use blinkenlights.

Re:i just don't get it (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21294961)

I completely agree.

The lawsuit is frivolous at best.

Any parent who bought this for their child needs their head examined.

taking a baseball bat to an old lady in the street just doesn't compare with boobs. It's this christian revolution in our country. It has diluted our morals.

Jesus would never beat a hooker. Jesus would never mow down citizens in an old beater. As for boobs, Jesus says, "release the twins".

Re:i just don't get it (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 6 years ago | (#21296407)

Revolution? It's the reason ya'all got your asses kicked out of europe in the first place :P

Re:i just don't get it (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 6 years ago | (#21299183)

Actually I'm here because some genius thought that growing only one type of potato was a good idea. It's amazing how much misery England caused in such a short amount of time.

Re:i just don't get it (1)

Peil (549875) | more than 6 years ago | (#21303083)

Away ye go ya Tattie theiving Taliban. If you micks weren't such fussy eaters you'd have been fine. 'Places marshmallow on stick and awaits flaming'

Re:i just don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21304727)

I'll engage:
Listen up you fucking twat, the potatos were the only thing growing with sufficient speed to keep London's tax collectors happy.
So, kindly chomp down on a monster, throbing, penis... you can learn by watching reruns how Tony Blair sucked off George W Bush for all those years.

Re:i just don't get it (1)

rav0 (983195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21303843)

[...]feel free to fuck that hooker and then beat her to death with a baseball bat to get your cash back[...]
Actually, in Australia, GTA3 and GTA Vice City were banned because you were able to do that, "sexual violence". Both times if was after a complaint, not a decision originating at the OFLC [oflc.gov.au] . San Andreas wasn't banned because of that, but was banned because of Hot Coffee. (PS The games were rereleased and allowed.)

Now play hardball and have fun, Take Two... (2, Funny)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21295267)

In order to get your $35, not only do you have to say, under penalty of perjury, that you bought the game, but that you also would NOT have bought it if you knew there was third party unlockable content of this sort...

So what Take Two should do is do some random trolling through the responses, and play a little "investigate the plaintiff" game. And then attempt to prosecute individual class members for purjury, as a way of putting a hurt on these stupid class action suits.

Re:Now play hardball and have fun, Take Two... (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#21296133)

I like this idea. More companies should do this. I get so many class action lawsuit letters in the mail, and I'm sure people just sign on for the free cash.

Re:Now play hardball and have fun, Take Two... (1)

exploder (196936) | more than 6 years ago | (#21296225)

In order to get your $35, not only do you have to say, under penalty of perjury, that you bought the game, but that you also would NOT have bought it if you knew there was third party unlockable content of this sort...
Well, the first one is so trivial to confirm that probably everyone who got the money was already vetted.

The second is so impossible to disprove that it would be total waste of money trying.

They settled (1)

Telepathetic Man (237975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21302293)

Usually, when a company settles like this, its because they don't want to continue paying the court fees. Going back to court in search of criminal prosecution, would not do them any good if this is the case.

What kind of defense do companies take? (2)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#21295591)

Like, what amazes me the most about these kinds of lawsuits, is why the companies settle. Why not take it to a jury trial? I don't see any way TT could possibly lose if they did. The whole reason the suit even exists is because people don't understand the issues - once they do there is no way it would be upheld. I mean, you can bring in ANY product manufacturer as a witness! For example:

TT Lawyer - So Mr Disney - are you aware that with a small 3rd party modification I can access PORNOGRAPHY in your motion picture Snow White?

Re:What kind of defense do companies take? (1)

Fifth Earth (1172333) | more than 6 years ago | (#21301493)

Well, that's a simplification too. All the "offensive" content was in the game to begin with, and was made by the game company itself. This is not really a third party mod, it's more like hacking Half-Life 2 so you can use the PhysGun or play on the sinking ship level (was that in the shipped version, or just the leaked beta?).

I still disagree that they are liable--the content is only accessible with deliberate, extraordinary measures, meaning anybody that saw the content wanted to. But I don't see this case as applicable to wholly third-person mods.

Re:What kind of defense do companies take? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21303721)

Like, what amazes me the most about these kinds of lawsuits, is why the companies settle. Why not take it to a jury trial? I don't see any way TT could possibly lose if they did.

The jury recently awarded $222,000 in damages to the RIAA in a P2P file-sharing case. It seriously considered upping the ante even more.

The geek thought his side had a winner there too.

The plaintiff gets the first crack at defining the issues for a jury that in all probability won't want to set a precedent for allowing strong adult content to be quietly embedded into a video game - and exposed only after the game is on the shelves.

In pre-trial depositions, the plaintiff gets to ask the most interesting questions:

"Your PR blitz put the blame on the modding community."

"Five minutes on the phone to Rockstar North would have told you that was a lie. That Hot Coffee was probably embedded in every console pressing of the game. Why didn't you make the call? We have some evidence that you did make the call."

Hot Coffee could be forgiven as an example of the geek's bad taste, his adolescent sense of sexuality and humor. The uncut Manhunt 2 seems to have taken things farther. As an attorney, do you really want a jury listening to the psycho-babble of a Rockstar exec as he defends the game? While a particularly gruesome scene from the video replays in their head?

WTF - BS (2, Insightful)

Foo2rama (755806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21299403)

I am sorry, you needed to go online and download a hack to make this work. If you had the access to get this mod, then you had access to way worse stuff on the internet. I am going to make a nude mod for battlefied 2142 and go start teabagging all the guys I kill. This is exactly the same thing with the Hot Coffee mod, so why does Rockstar need to pay for a change that someone else unlocked?

From the other side (2, Interesting)

NachoBarone (1187011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21302903)

What a sad sad storry this really is, the US have again shown how ridiculous law and order is caried out.
This case from start to end is one big fucking joke, showing how religious folkes have success in forcing
their moral standards upon others.
A lot of good stuff is comming out of the US, but boy am I glad living on the other side of the atlantic ocean,
when witnessing how the goverment supports peoples right to get offended.

 
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