FTC fills thermos with Hot Coffee


— 9:46 AM on July 27, 2005

I'm not sure whether you've been following the "Hot Coffee" controversy over the hidden sex mini-game built into Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but we've been remiss in overlooking this story around here. I suppose we didn't expect it to become such a huge deal. If you've missed it, the different stages of the story are best described in three Penny Arcade panels. Yes, Rockstar Games actually tried to blame the existence of pre-installed, unlockable content on "hackers," in the process raising the specter that game development houses might become responsible for the content added to their games by modders. But GTA: San Andreas wasn't modded, as folks came to understand when it was pointed out that the sex mini-game was accessible on console versions of the game, no download required.

Washington politicians got involved, including Hillary Clinton, and then the game industry's ESRB ratings body changed GTA: San Andreas's rating from Mature (the rough equivalent of an R move rating) to Adults Only (more like an NC-17).

Now, the Federal Trade Commission is wading into the fray with its own investigation. The CNET report I've just linked is rather short on details, but it sounds like the FTC will be investigating whether the game's advertising was misleading, perhaps including the original ESRB rating. Rockstar has already had its title pulled from the shelves at major retailers as it works to produce a version of the game without the Hot Coffee content. Could a slap from the FTC be next?

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