Take-Two has announced an out of court settlement for all consumer class action lawsuits relating to the notorious Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Hot Coffee 'affair'. The company will dish out no less than $1.025 million (£492,500) and anything up to $2.75 million (£1.32 million) to morally outraged consumers.
Not, of course, that Take-Two thinks that it was at fault as far as the Hot Coffee modification – which, in 2004 enabled gamers to unlock content of a (*gasp*) sexual nature – goes. The company tells us that if the settlement receives approval from the United States District Court for New York, “all claims in these lawsuits will be dismissed without any admission of liability or wrongdoing by Take-Two or Rockstar”.
Furthermore, Take-Two's CEO, Ben Feder, says, "If the case had continued, we believe the court would have agreed that Take-Two was not liable for consumers acting independently to modify their games with third-party hardware and software to access normally inaccessible content. Nonetheless, we believe it is in the best interest of the company to avoid protracted and costly litigation to prove our case and to finally put this matter behind us".
Poor chaps. That's quite a lot of cash for something that's not their fault, especially when you factor in “the costs of providing notice to class members and paying a fee to plaintiffs' counsel” which Take-Two will additionally have to pay.
Still, Take-Two isn't going to make it easy. To get their mitts on some of the cash, members of the suit will have to “swear” to the following facts:
“...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.”
Those applying for the compensation are likely to receive either an edited copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
or up to $35 (£16.80) compensation. Take-Two notes, however, that “The actual value of all cash payments under the settlement will depend on the number of class members that apply for benefits.”
Full details of the settlement will be filed with the court in mid-November.
Meanwhile, the ESRB has come out in defence of Take-Two
following a hack of the PSP version of Manhunt 2
which allowed gamers to see content in all its banned, gory detail.