Beyond its penchant for murder, bank robbing and car thievery, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto 5 has spawned a thriving performance community since its 2013 console launch and PC introduction two years thereafter. Ash Sky Queen is a prominent figure within the game’s stunting subculture—whose work we’ve covered before—and, having turned her hand to machinima several times in the past, is upset about Take-Two’s recent cease and desist order on OpenIV—a popular modding tool for the Grand Theft Auto series that’s been around for close to ten years.
Both Rockstar and the modding tool’s lead developer have contacted PC Gamer, however we’re yet to hear from Take-Two Interactive itself. Ash, on the other hand, is far from pleased with the publisher’s intervention.
“The news about OpenIV being shutdown is having a big impact in the machinima community,” says Ash. “For me it’s pretty devastating. I started creating videos with mods back in 2015 and the projects have been most rewarding. My first creation ‘Siren’ was released in feb 2016 and is to this day my most popular, most engaged daily video.
“This is due to the amazing shots and scenarios I was able to create using mods made available with the use of OpenIV. All my future machinima projects are now suspended for the time being. Take-Two states that the modding tool is used by third parties to manipulate the GTA Online economy, but if this is the case, it is a small minority of users doing it. The vast majority of users and mod authors are creatives, and actively discourage using mods online. Most mods actually block the user from loading into Online when installed.”
So, what does this mean for GTA 5’s creatives? Ash suggests it forces video creators to go back to the vanilla version of the game, robbing them of the surplus features mods provide in the process. She also reckons that despite these measures, those determined to cheat the system will find other ways of doing so.
Ash adds: “Without tools like OpenIV we go back to the vanilla version of the game [which] is devastating for machinima creators. Mods bring our work to life allowing storytelling methods that just aren’t possible with the basic version and where the creatives in the community suffer with this decision. I have every confidence that those manipulating online will continue to do so. They always find a way.”
I’m in the process of chatting to some prominent GTA 5 machinima creators for their views on the closure of OpenIV, and how it affects their work and communities. Keep an eye out for that early next week.