5 times Rockstar attracted controversy with the GTA franchise

Controversies and Rockstar Games are two sides of the same coin (Image via Sportskeeda)
Controversies and Rockstar Games are two sides of the same coin (Image via Sportskeeda)

The Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series has had a long history of controversies. A number of lawsuits and other legal notices have been filed against Rockstar Games and its parent organization, Take-Two Interactive, for various in-game elements.

Even though the American video game publisher prevailed in the courts most of the time, Rockstar has had to alter several exciting aspects of the games to keep them balanced and out of public dissension.

This article discusses five controversies that Rockstar Games has faced because of the GTA franchise.

Note: This article is subjective and only reflects the writer's opinions.

5 controversies faced by Rockstar for GTA games

1) Changes and bans - GTA 3


Grand Theft Auto 3 was released in 2001 at a sensitive time, almost immediately following the 9/11 attacks. Previous GTA games had already made a name for themselves as crime simulators and III's immersive gameplay at the time drew Rockstar into a new set of controversies.

Rockstar had to cut a mission involving terrorists and other elements such as vehicles, NPC dialogs, radio conversations, and so on. They also had to change the game's cover in the United States to avoid offending people's sentiments.

The blood and gore in the game were so realistic at the time that the Australian authorities almost banned it for being too violently realistic. Rockstar acted quickly and changed many of the game's elements, including removing blood animations.

2) Portrayal of Haitian people in Vice City


Take-Two Interactive found itself in the middle of a new controversy with the release of Vice City in 2002. As a minority group, Haitians are a distinct demographic in Florida. Rockstar portrayed Haitians in Vice City as gangsters partaking in a wide range of criminal activities.

This angered the minority community, and the Haitian Americans for Human Rights group held protests against the company in 2003. Rockstar was criticized for allegedly stereotyping Haitians as criminals and thugs. Ultimately, the developers issued an apology statement and cut some dialog from the game.

3) GTA Chinatown Wars drug dealing


Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars is a console game released for the Nintendo DS in 2009. The game takes a top-down approach and features arcade-style gameplay. Despite being a smaller game in the series, Rockstar was still caught up in some controversy over it.

One of the missions in the game involves selling drugs to NPCs. Several illegal substances, including LSD, cocaine, heroin, and others, have been listed in the game to earn money. Due to this, several concerned parents and citizens voiced their disapproval of Rockstar, claiming the company was encouraging drug use.

While it may appear absurd in light of some of the MC Club businesses in GTA Online, the matter was a critical issue for Rockstar at the time.

4) Drunk driving in GTA 4


The drunk-driving scene in Grand Theft Auto 4 sparked another ridiculous controversy for Rockstar. Some of the game's early trailers and gameplay videos showed a drunken Niko Bellic behind the wheel. Protesters claimed that Rockstar was promoting alcohol and driving through the game.

Constant accusations have been leveled against the franchise over the years, claiming that it glorifies criminal behavior and acts of violence. Protesters argued that the drunk driving scene would encourage more criminal behavior among those who play the game. Despite Rockstar being threatened with a ban on sales, the company easily tackled the issue.

5) Torture scene in GTA 5


Grand Theft Auto's latest installment has been met with backlash due to a mission encouraging graphic acts of violence and torture. While playing the "By the Book" mission, gamers must subject Ferdinand Kerimov to "third-degree torture" using a variety of industrial equipment.

This prompted several media outlets and others to criticize Rockstar for explicitly showcasing such a heinous crime scene to the public. The Japanese version of the game even skips the entire mission automatically. The developers also changed some of the cutscenes and character elements in the said version.

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Edited by R. Elahi
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