It is not uncommon for developers and publishers to crack down on cheating through in-game mechanisms, suspensions, and even bans, but Take-Two Interactive is taking a different tack in some of the more extreme cases. The publisher is hitting makers of cheat software with lawsuits, and is seeing some success.
The most recent example stems from a lawsuit Take-Two filed last August against Jhonny Perez, a Florida resident who developed and distributed a cheating tool called Elusive. More than just a cheating mod, it could also be used to grief players in Grand Theft Auto V—one of the options in the software's menus allowed players to instantly kill others. It could also be used to generate in-game currency.
Perez's software sold for anywhere from $10 to $30, depending on the package. Take-Two had attempted to find out exactly how much money Perez generated from his Elusive software, but he refused to provide any financial records. So, instead of coming up with a settlement offer, Take-Two sued Perez, and won.
Take-Two argued in its lawsuit that Perez's software caused harm to the tune of $500,000 or more. The publisher requested the maximum statutory damages amount of $150,000, plus an additional $69,686 in attorney fees. The court issued a default judgement in Take-Two's favor.
"Take-Two has been irreparably harmed by Mr. Perez’s infringing conduct and will continue to be harmed unless enjoined," US District Court Judge Kevin Castel wrote in his order. "Mr. Perez’s Elusive program creates new features and elements in Grand Theft Auto which can be used to harm legitimate players, causing Take-Two to lose control over its carefully balanced plan for how its video game is designed to be played."
The judge also wrote that the cheat deterred users from making future purchases, because it has the ability to generate in-game currency for free. He awarded Take-Two the requested $150,000 in statutory damages, and $66,868 in attorney fees, which is only slightly less than the publisher sought.
On top of it all, the judge barred Perez from continuing infringing activities in the future. Interestingly, this all came about after Perez pulled Elusive offline, which he did last year after he was contacted by Take-Two.
"After discussions with Take-Two Interactive, we are immediately ceasing all maintenance, development, and distribution of our cheat menu services," a public announcement read at the time.
He also vowed to donate the proceeds from his Elusive software to a charity of Take-Two's choosing. In the end, Take-Two decided to let it play out in court.