Time Warp: July 27, 2005

Posted by Ken Davidson on Jul 27th, 2010

On this day in 2005, an 85-year-old woman sued the maker of the video game “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” for failing to tell consumers that it contained hidden, sexually explicit scenes. The plaintiff, who bought the game for her 14-year-old grandson, claimed that Rockstar Games, and its parent company, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., engaged in consumer deception, false advertising, common law fraud, and unjust enrichment.

The company had failed to notify consumers that within the regular game, players were able to enable and access a hidden minigame in which one character invites the other in for coffee. In this “Hot Coffee” minigame, players could watch the characters have sex. The game had been given an “M” (mature) rating by the ESRB, but would have received an “AO” (adult only) rating had the self-regulatory organization known about the hidden material. The case was granted class action status and was consolidated as In Re Grand Theft Auto Video Game Consumer Litigation v. Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. et al. The FTC also launched its own investigation. The agency subsequently filed a complaint (pdf) against Take-Two and its Rockstar subsidiary. The class action case was eventually settled for roughly $20 million. The game maker also reached a settlement with the FTC.

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