It’s pretty standard for game developers to use a variety of technical and community management methods to try to stop cheaters from ruining the online experience for legitimate players. But some game makers are increasingly using the courts to try to stop the spread of mods that give players an unfair advantage, as highlighted by a pair of stories this week.
The first such story comes from Rockstar and Take-Two, which have convinced an Australian court to freeze the assets of five people believed to be behind Grand Theft Auto V cheating software known as “Infamous.” The full court order, as reported by TorrentFreak, also allows authorities to search the homes and computers of Christopher Anderson, Cycus Lesser, Sfinktah, Koroush Anderson, and Koroush Jeddian. Authorities are looking for evidence of the creation or distribution of “any software that provides a player of Grand Theft Auto V access to unauthorized features…”
The Infamous “mod menu” gives users pretty much full control over the world of Grand Theft Auto universe, online or off, granting abilities that include teleportation, flying, and full environmental manipulation. Perhaps most distressingly for Rockstar and Take-Two, the mod also let players generate arbitrary amounts of virtual currency for themselves or other players online, which could have a direct effect on the game’s microtransaction-driven bottom line.
GTA Online publisher goes after paid cheating servicesLast year, Take-Two used legal threats to force three other popular GTA hacking tools offline. The company also briefly forced popular single-player mod tool OpenIV to shut down, but that service was restored after discussions and changes to protect the online portion of the game.
Fortnite YouTubers sued
On the other end of the legal action spectrum, Fortnite developer Epic Games is aiming to stop some popular YouTube personalities from sharing videos that it says promote the sale of cheating software.
According to a federal lawsuit filed by Epic in a North Carolina court (again reported by TorrentFreak), YouTuber Brandon Lucas is the man behind the 1.7 million-subscriber Golden Modz channel (with some help from Colton Conter, aka Exentic, who is also named in the suit). That channel focuses on entertaining moments brought about with Fortnite hacks that provide players with automatic perfect aim, reveal hidden items and enemies, and more.
Use of those mods constitutes copyright infringement and breach of the game’s EULA, Epic argues, echoing lawsuits filed against Fortnite cheaters filed last year. But the new lawsuit goes farther in arguing that Lucas is using his YouTube videos to “demonstrate and promote the hacks he sells, and to direct those who watch the videos to the websites where he sells them.”
“Each Defendant created, posted, and publicly performed videos on his respective YouTube channel showing himself and/or others using hacks to cheat at Fortnite in part to demonstrate, advertise, and promote the cheats that Lucas sells on his websites,” Epic writes in the complaint. “His ill-gotten gains come at the expense of Epic and members of the Fortnite community… Defendants are cheaters. Nobody likes a cheater. And nobody likes playing with cheaters.”
While Epic has already tried to ban Lucas and Conters from the game and has filed DMCA complaints against some of their videos, that hasn’t stopped the pair from continuing to allegedly profit from posts on YouTube and social media channels. “My videos fall under YouTube’s fair use policy and all of the videos are my own creation and I am willing to defend these claims in court,” Conters said in response to one of the DMCA complaints, according to the lawsuit.
In a video posted last month titled “Golden Modz sued by Fortnite,” Lucas highlights those DMCA takedowns and warns that he believes the Golden Modz channel could be taken down at any moment. He also complains that other YouTubers who post Fortnite leaks and cheats have not been similarly targeted by Epic.
“I’m almost kind of feeling I’m being discriminated against by Epic Games,” Lucas said. “You know, I’m just a kid that’s making YouTube videos, and a lot of people were enjoying this.”