An ongoing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas modding project, titled GTA: Underground, has ceased development after hostility against modders from series owner Take-Two Interactive. GTA: Underground expanded San Andreas‘ map using cities from other Rockstar Games titles such as GTA: Vice City, GTA III, Bully and Manhunt. This huge interconnected map could then be seamlessly explored, creating one gigantic open-world Rockstar Games experience.
The popularity of the Grand Theft Auto series, paired with the franchise’s aptitude for expansive open worlds and player freedom, has logically led to the creation of many mods for the various games in the series. Unfortunately, a recent trend has seen many GTA mods taken down by Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar’s owner. While mods can often have a negative effect on a multiplayer game’s community, mods for older single-player games do not present as much of an issue. The mods being aggressively targeted by Take-Two mostly serve to port assets, such as old maps or characters, for use in remastering or altering these older games. The harmless nature of these mods has led many gamers to question why Take-Two is taking them down with such gusto. Take-Two has addressed its recent mod takedowns, with CEO Strauss Zelnick explaining that the company is attempting to defend the series’ economy and prevent misuse of its property.
Developers of the GTA: Underground mod have announced on GTAForums that work on the mod is being ceased, and all uploads taken offline, due to Take-Two’s hostility toward modders. The project’s leader, known as dkluin, explains that the mod team’s mental and financial well-being has been jeopardized by Take-Two’s recent takedowns. Work on GTA: Underground began back in 2015, but unfortunately six years of work will soon be removed from the internet entirely. However, dkluin also reveals that the large modding team may have an interest in creating their own original game in the future. A farewell video, titled The End and posted to the UndergroundDev YouTube channel, can be watched below.
While mods are typically harmless when used in a single-player game, they can destroy the delicate balance of multiplayer games such as Grand Theft Auto Online. One popular GTA Online cheat shop, a website called LunaCheats, was shut down in January 2021 after discussions with Take-Two. The site would previously sell cheats and exploits to willing customers who were looking to gain an edge in the popular online title. However, after speaking with the game’s publisher, the site’s owners agreed to shut down and donate the profits to a charity of Take-Two’s choice.
After six years of work, it is a shame to see GTA: Underground be canned due to hostility from Take-Two. San Andreas is a single-player title released back in 2004, so the mod put no other gamers at any sort of gameplay disadvantage. Take-Two’s ongoing hostility toward mod developers has led to speculation that they plan to release remakes of these classic games, but in any case it is very unfortunate that Grand Theft Auto content creators are being so negatively affected.