You know you have made it big when a phrase is more associated with your game than the actual meaning and Rockstar has done just that with their infamous game franchise “Grand Theft Auto”, even if the franchise wallowed in obscurity for the first two titles. The franchise exploded with the release of the third installment of the franchise and launched an entire generation of moms that condemn video games as a whole based simply on one experience of accidentally buying the game for their under aged child. Now it may seem like that really has no relevance to what the title of this leads you to believe but in fact, it has EVERYTHING to do with it. But I suppose I should take a step back and bring this full circle. Rockstar has been sued more times than you could count on two hands whether it’s protecting their IP, the political drama of running a studio or the many MANY cases of supposed unlicensed or unapproved use of a likeness in their game. The list could go on forever, but in all of these cases, no singular one brings to light exactly WHY they happen so frequently but my overall theory is that it has everything to do with the games that Rockstar makes. So let’s break this down by examining what exactly I mean by that.
First, let’s start with a look at what kind of games Rockstar is producing as a whole. The most popular and longest franchise is easily “Grand Theft Auto” the veritable “how bad of a person can I be simulator” according to some and the “most satisfying place to break traffic laws” to others. As I stated before everyone and the moms (ESPECIALLY their moms) knows the games and this is where the problems begin.
Not to try and say that people like to be upset and will try and destroy anything that doesn’t conform to their perfect white pick fence image, but some people do, and when you have something as big and controversial as GTA those people will rise from the woodwork like a suburban zombie apocalypse. Naturally, the greatest weapon for censorship for these people is the legal system. This is much and more proven with the banning of the game multiple times in Australia and the infamous lawsuit over the “Hot Coffee” mod that even former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was heavily involved in.
The reason for these games being so controversial is the second main point I am trying to make here. The “realistic” portrayal that is present in Rockstars biggest hits. When you develop a game using realistic looking human characters especially with the satirical take on modern media and society as a whole the way that Rockstar does naturally every other celebrity and corporation on the block assumes that they are the target and if there is one thing that nobody likes it’s being made fun of. If you want a good example of this look at Lindsey Lohan, the actress attempted to sue Rockstar for the use of her likeness in one of the loading screens for the fifth installment of the GTA franchise back in 2014 in a case that was ultimately thrown out by a judge not long after.
Most recently the actual risk management service “Pinkerton Consultancy & Investigation” are bringing legal action to the company over the use of their name in “Red Dead Redemption 2” which was released this past October. But perhaps the most bizarre example of this phenomena is the legal case that began in early 2017 where the group Psychic Readers Network attempted to sue Rockstar over the character “Auntie Poulet” for the game “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” ( Which was released 15 YEARS prior to their initial filing of the suit) which they claim bore too much of a resemblance to “Miss Cleo” whom they hold the rights to, which was almost certainly the intent as the original actress that portrayed “Miss Cleo” Youree Harris was the voice actress for the GTA character. Seems suspicious right?
All of these bring to light the final and honestly BIGGEST reason that when Rockstar releases a new game it becomes open season for lawsuits. It’s all because of the simple fact that the games are not only popular but PROFITABLE. These games make some serious money and when that kind of cash gets thrown around and people see that profit and they smell that blood in the water, they start to act more like sharks than actual people. All in all there can really be no way to fix these lawsuits really, Rockstar is easily some of the best at what they do and all in all its just like a video game if you encounter more and more enemies you know that you are on the right path.