Days after Take-Two Interactive shut down a popular GTA V modding tool, another modding service has come into the publisher's crosshairs. Force Hax, a GTA Online PC modding menu that charged users money for its cheating and harassment services, has not only been taken down, Take-Two asked the developers to apologise in an unusual way.
Force Hax was a mod menu that players used for a variety of things, including gifting themselves endless money, freezing and kicking players from the game, and even stealing money from other GTA Online players. Force Hax was not the only tool of its kind, but it was one of the most popular ones.
Right now, the Force Hax official website redirects to a statement from the development team:
"After discussions with Take-Two Interactive, effective immediately we are ceasing all maintenance, development and distribution of the Force Hax cheat menu services. We will be donating our proceeds to charity and we apologise for any and all problems Force Hax services have caused to the Grand Theft Auto Online community."
Rockstar confirmed with Kotaku that the former cheat enablers do indeed have to donate their modding earnings to charity, but did not specify how much money that would be or what specific causes would benefit from it. We do know, however, that Force Hax cost $US15 ($20) a month for players who used it, and that thousands of players were estimated to use the services.
Force Hax's takedown shouldn't be a surprise: when Rockstar clarified why Take-Two took down the GTA modding tool from earlier this week, a spokesperson specified that the publisher wanted to impede "malicious mods that allow harassment of players and interfered with the GTA Online experience." While arguably Open IV didn't fit that criteria, Force Hax most certainly does.
Given that Force Hax is an actual cheating tool, the community is reacting positively to the news. The mod menu was popular with griefers, so many are hoping that GTA Online on PC will become a safer place, rather than a cheater's paradise.
Despite the enthusiasm surrounding Force Hax's cease and desist, generally, the community is still reeling from the shutdown of Open IV, a free tool used for singleplayer mods that allowed players to do things like add new characters, and make machinima videos.
Since the commotion surrounding Open IV, GTA V has been receiving thousands of negative reviews on Steam from fans who believe the modding tool was unjustly taken down. As of this writing, GTA V now has nearly 30,000 negative reviews, changing the overall rating from "Mostly Positive" to "Overwhelmingly Negative." The top-voted review says "Dont buy this, Take two interactive is screwing it over with the online gameplay and anti modding policies."
Steam data tracker, Steam Spy, visualed just how sharp of a drop the game has suffered in the last few days:
Users are down-voting GTA V like crazy. Never mess with the mods :) pic.twitter.com/EOIVIOVimb
— Steam Spy (@Steam_Spy) June 17, 2017
Modders are protesting in their own way, too. One former fan, for example, made a mod that broadcasts a blimp message to Take-Two:
Elsewhere, Open IV modding fans have started a Change.org petition that currently has 32K signatures. Defenders of OpenIV say that, despite Take-Two's claim that the tool allowed for the disruption of multiplayer activities, tthe mod was always a single-player only modding tool.
Comments left on the Change.Org Petition
The future of GTA V mods feels shaky and uncertain right now, and players are expressing worry that their favourite tool will be next on the radar. After all, modding tools fuel everything from the ever-elusive Chiliad Mystery, to popular role-playing servers. While taking down a mod menu like Force Hax is definitely a good thing, overall, Take-Two and Rockstar have an uphill battle to fight if they want to gain back the community's trust.
Zach Zwiezen is a a writer living in Kansas City, Missouri. He has written for Gamecritics, Killscreen and Entertainment Fuse.