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FTC to investigate San Andreas

Rockstar says no more mods.

Publisher Take Two is facing further problems over the GTA "Hot Coffee" scandal, with the United States House of Representatives voting overwhelmingly in favour of the launch of a federal investigation into the matter.

With a 355 to 21 result, with 56 abstaining, the House voted to task the Federal Trade Commission with finding out whether Take Two and its subsidiary Rockstar had committed deliberate deception over Hot Coffee.

The semi-pornographic mini-game was shipped on every disc of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, but could only be accessed by downloading codes published on the internet by third parties.

Rockstar said in a statement this week: "Going forward, the Company will refine the process by which it edits games and will enhance the protection of its game code to prevent such future modifications."

Last week the ESRB ruled that the presence of the content on the disc was sufficient cause to pull GTA's M (Mature) rating and replace it with an AO (Adults Only) rating, resulting in Take Two dropping $40 million off its revenue targets for the quarter as it was forced to replace a large inventory of discs with remastered copies, sans offending content.

At the time, analysts warned that Take Two could face further probes and legal difficulties over the scandal, and while no SEC investigation or class action lawsuits have yet emerged, the FTC investigation is not the news that Take Two will have hoped for.

Possible outcomes of the investigation include a fine for the company, and the imposition of an expensive wider recall which would force Take Two to handle product returns and exchanges from consumers who bought copies of the game with the offending content on the disc.

However, in the short term the investigation could actually have some positive benefits for Take Two, according to Banc of America Securities analyst Gary Cooper - who points out that the escalation of the controversy may well boost sales of both the AO rated version of San Andreas, and the forthcoming PSP title Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories.

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