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June 26, 2006
2 Min Read
Major game publisher Take-Two Interactive has announced that it has received grand jury subpoenas issued by the District Attorney of the County of New York over the 'Hot Coffee' incident involving a sex-related mini-game within Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. According to a statement by Take-Two, the subpoenas are requesting "production of documents, covering various periods beginning on October 1, 2001, including those relating to: the knowledge of the Company's officers and directors regarding the creation, inclusion and programming of hidden scenes (commonly referred to as "hot coffee") in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the submission of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to the Entertainment Software Rating Board for a rating, and the Company's disclosures regarding Hot Coffee." The statement continues: "These include disclosures and presentations by the Company of certain events, including acquisitions, partnering arrangements and earnings results; invoices from, payments to, and termination of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and retention of Ernst & Young LLP; acquisitions by the Company in 2005; certain compensation and human resources documents with respect to the Company and certain of its current and former officers and directors; and documents concerning the activities of the Company's Board of Directors and Committees thereof." According to Take-Two: "The Company has not been advised that it or any specific individual is presently a target of the investigation. The Company is fully cooperating and providing the requested documents." Take-Two and subsidiary Rockstar has previously been the subject of multiple investigations and attempted lawsuits over the controversial 'mod', apparently a section of GTA: San Andreas that was removed from regular play but unlockable through changing the in-game code. Most recently, the firm settled with the FTC over the matter - however, the final settlement in that case was not a major blow for the company, since it only levies a possible $11,000 fine per infraction for future 'Hot Coffee'-style incidents. Nonetheless, the subpoena announcement, relating to specific charges and allegations which are yet to be explicitly revealed, had a major effect on Take-Two stock - it was down almost 20% to $10.30 in after-hours trading on NASDAQ.
About the Author(s)
Simon Carless is the founder of the GameDiscoverCo agency and creator of the popular GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter. He consults with a number of PC/console publishers and developers, and was previously most known for his role helping to shape the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference for many years.
He is also an investor and advisor to UK indie game publisher No More Robots (Descenders, Hypnospace Outlaw), a previous publisher and editor-in-chief at both Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and sits on the board of the Video Game History Foundation.
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