The makers of a 14-year-old Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas mod have pulled it offline themselves over a fear of a takedown from Take-Two.
GTA United is a mod based on San Andreas for PC. It unites the maps of Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto Vice City in one game area within San Andreas, effectively replacing San Andreas' map.
Work on the free, non-commercial mod began in 2006. The first beta of what was then known as "Vice City 2 San Andreas" came out in early 2007. The beta for "Liberty City 2 San Andreas" came out soon after. Then, in late 2007, the beta for a combined effort called GTA United was released. Five years later, in December 2012, GTA United 1.2 was released. It remained available ever since - until now.
Rockstar parent company Take-Two has issued a raft of takedown notices for GTA map mods in recent weeks.
Mods such as GTA: Underground, and the 15-year-old project, GTA: Liberty City, were hit. Even HD texture projects such as Vice Cry were targeted.
From what the modding community can gather, it looks as though Take-Two's lawyers are scouring modding databases for terms such as Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas. And though no one's entirely sure why Take-Two has enacted this now (it has yet to comment), some speculate it's either something to do with GTA Online's recently-released summer update, or perhaps a remaster or remake project that will see older GTA games released on current-gen systems.
Mindful of this, the makers of GTA United have pulled the mod offline.
"Due to the increasing DMCA takedowns against various GTA San Andreas map modifications, it is with a heavy heart that we must announce that we decided to preemptively take all remaining instances of GTA United, including its predecessors VC2SA and LC2SA, down," the modders said in a post titled "Final Chapter".
"This means that, while our team haven't received a takedown notice, we opted ourselves to say goodbye on our own conditions, and that effectively now all our official uploads are taken offline. We are sorry to all the people that enjoyed playing GTA United, many of which we had positive interactions with, but this is a step we felt was necessary, as Take-Two and Rockstar Games seem to gradually reject more and more modding of their games, even if it's the older ones.
"We want to use this opportunity to say thanks to all the people that have helped with the creation, maintenance, hosting and support of GTA United. It has been a pleasure to work alongside such talented and dedicated people, an experience we shall never forget, and without all of you it would not have been possible to pull off.
"There were so many layers to the whole project, so many little details and even small secrets hidden away, that at times it felt overwhelming to work on the project. To us, it wasn't just about merging the maps of two of our favourite games, it was about bringing them once again to life. From small missions and races, radio stations, a breathing world through working pedestrians in the streets, new load and menu screens, custom graffities and hundreds of items handplaced in the world, including our own collectables in [the] form of United numplates. These are only a couple of the things we hoped would help people in immersing themselves once again in these iconic worlds.
"Above all stands the fun we had while constructing this modification and the fun we had with people enjoying it, so once again, thanks a lot for the great time.
"The GTA United Team."
GTA mod fans have reacted with sadness to the news. "GTA United was a very important mod that showcased the limitless possibility of GTA SA modding," wrote GTA Forums user Wakka387.
"Seems like this is an end of an era."
Take-Two's recent spate of GTA mod takedowns has seen several prolific GTA modders denounce the company for what they consider to be reneging on previous agreements, and are still reeling from the company's efforts to takedown reverse-engineered versions of GTA 3 and Vice City.