Take-Two has reportedly taken down a GTA 5 mod that provides non-playable characters with interactive dialogue, courtesy of AI. The Sentient Streets mod received ample attention over the last few weeks, with several media outlets reporting on its creation, and its potential to change the way players interacted with games in future.
Many agreed that while the mod had its limitations, using Inworld’s Character Engine to power AI NPCs provided opportunity to expand the game beyond Rockstar’s original vision. That said, the mod also faced massive backlash for including AI speech software, which is typically trained on mass voice samples.
Recently, mods have begun incorporating this technology to give voices and emotions to niche NPCs and original characters – although this practice has inspired much talk about how AI may replace actors, writers, and other creatives in the game development process.
It’s unclear if this potential issue is what inspired the Take-Two takedown. In a statement, mod creator Bloc has revealed the mod was flagged over copyright concerns, with its removal taking place without their consent. At the same time, Take-Two also initiated the removal of videos promoting the mod from YouTube.
“I can, of course, raise an objection through YouTube’s objection system, but this escalates things to legal authorities,” Bloc said, per IGN transcription. “I am a single modder who does this in my free time for fun, so I don’t have the resources to legally defend myself in this situation. Frankly, I also don’t want to spend time on this.”
Block also questioned the legitimacy of the takedown, calling it a “puzzling” attack on his creation.
“I must say, as a person who grew up with the Grand Theft Auto series and enjoyed all the games throughout the years, this hostile attitude towards me and the mod is very disheartening … The mod does not utilise any voices from Grand Theft Auto nor does it distribute anything it shouldn’t. I haven’t even included my Patreon link in any of the mod descriptions or videos to avoid any potential controversy. I am not a lawyer, but as far as I am aware, mod is not violating any Grand Theft Auto or YouTube policy.’
‘Whether you like it or not, or dislike the idea of having AI in video games, is one thing. However, while the mod itself does not appear to be violating anything, removing the video and issuing a copyright strike without any communication is another matter.’
For now, it appears Bloc will move on from the controversy, as legal proceedings against the takedown are not practical. Should other companies take issue with mods utilising similar AI-powered technology, it’s likely we’ll see a new spate of mod takedowns in future.