Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., publisher of the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, faces a lawsuit filed by the city of Los Angeles. The company is accused of knowingly sidestepping the Adults Only 18+ rating by hiding sexually explicit material within the game. Many major game retailers refuse to carry adults-only titles, but will shelve titles with the less offensive Mature rating.
The suit was filed Thursday by Los Angeles City Attorney Rockard Delgadillo, who claims the company lied when it blamed hackers, known as moders, for inserting the extra footage in question.
In July of last year, The National Institute on Media and the Family first issued warnings of the game’s concealed sexual and violent content when it was learned that young gamers were downloading something called the ‘Hot Coffee’ mod, which unlocks the material. The ESRB rating board then launched an ongoing investigation into the matter.
When the accusations first surfaced, Rockstar Games, developer of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, issued a response, implying that parents should be more diligent about keeping Mature-rated games out the hands of their children. Still, Circuit City and other retailers yanked the best-selling game off of shelves. With this latest round of legal action, Take-Two saw its shares drop 17.3% to $14.08 on Friday afternoon.