Grand Theft Auto 5‘s most popular mod tool, OpenIV, has officially returned to availability after several weeks down due to a Take-Two cease and desist letter. This hopefully marks the end of the controversy, which went so far as getting Rockstar Games itself involved. All parties, at this point, seem to agree that OpenIV meets the requirements necessary for a “third party project” to remain legal. Whether or not that agreement continues forward remains to be seen.
OpenIV, a publicly available modding tool, allows users to edit files within Grand Theft Auto 5, Grand Theft Auto 4, and Max Payne 3, or to import modifications packaged up by other people. While OpenIV goes to great lengths to ensure that it can only be used to modify the single-player aspects of these games, the scope of what can be done by OpenIV set off red flags at publisher Take-Two. As a result OpenIV was shut down and taken offline. It got caught up by an aggressive wave of cease and desist orders sent out by Take-Two targeting projects and modifications seen as illegally infringing on the company’s rights.
The resulting outcry from the Grand Theft Auto 5 community – and, to be fair, the communities of the other games OpenIV supports – was as expected, with GTA 5 users flooding the game’s Seam page with negative reviews. Both Take-Two and Rockstar suddenly had a PR issue on-hand, though Rockstar’s involvement up to this point was likely nil. What happened between publisher and developer next isn’t exactly clear, but on July 23, more than a week after OpenIV went offline, Rockstar posted a public statement in which they said discussions with Take-Two resulted in a general approval of legal projects like OpenIV.
Yet for almost two weeks, OpenIV remained offline. Fans grew curious as to whether OpenIV be allowed to continue, despite Rockstar’s statement seemingly giving the modding tool its blessing. Since July 23, fans have waited. During that time OpenIV released an update to those who already had the tool installed, implying continued development. And so today fans’ patience has been rewarded, as OpenIV is back.
Nevertheless, OpenIV’s future remains insecure. Take-Two, for the time being, remains aggressive towards the modding and emulation community. While OpenIV’s support of Grand Theft Auto 5 appears to be given the green light, who knows how the situation will change with Red Dead Redemption 2‘s launch. The sequel is said to include major online functionality, potentially blending single-player and multiplayer in a way that will prevent tools like OpenIV from supporting them. That’s potentially Take-Two’s goal. For now, however, let’s enjoy our mods.
Grand Theft Auto 5 is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.