Technology

GTA 3 and Vice City reverse-engineering fan project hit with DMCA takedown

The Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City reverse-engineering fan project has been hit with a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown.

This week, Eurogamer reported on how Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City fans had fully reverse-engineered both games – a passion project from a small group years in the making.

Fan-created source code for both games was made available on GitHub, offering a raft of eye-catching improvements over the original games officially available to play today on PC.

The work opened up the possibility of new mods, ray-tracing tech and ports to new platforms. Already we’ve seen some interesting work-in-progress ports spring up from re3, including Wii U, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Vita versions.

This morning, the project’s chief creator alerted Eurogamer to a DMCA takedown, supposedly from Rockstar parent company Take-Two, that has hauled both re3 and reVC offline. The DMCA on GitHub claims the project uses copyrighted materials owned by Take-Two, and that this use is “unauthorized and it should be removed immediately”. All files have now been removed, seemingly automatically by GitHub.

Project lead aap tells Eurogamer he’s not sure the DMCA takedown is actually from Take-Two. “It’s not impossible it’s just a troll,” he said. “Hard to tell. But better to assume it’s real.”

We’ve asked Take-Two for clarification.

aap is now faced with a dilemma. He can file a counterclaim, but he’s worried this may spark a lawsuit. It seems he is currently trying to find out the nature of the claim before working out what to do next. “No idea how exactly the project will continue, we’ll see,” aap said.

When I covered re3 and reVC this week, I wondered whether Take-Two would come calling. re3 requires PC game assets to work, so you must own a copy of GTA 3. And aap had stressed on GitHub that the code should only be used for educational, documentation and modding purposes. “We do not encourage piracy or commercial use,” aap wrote on GitHub.

But Take-Two and Rockstar have a reputation for taking a hard-line with fan remakes and others who tinker with their code. So, I asked, was the team worried about an intervention?

“Yes, we were very much worried about that and tried to stay under the radar for as long as possible,” aap said.

“We got a lot of attention when the Switch port happened but nothing from Take-Two. We took that as a sign that they don’t care (or are really blind).”

aap had considered the fact the Super Mario 64 reverse-engineering project was still up on GitHub as a good sign “because Nintendo is about as aggressive as Take-Two in these matters”.

The future of aap’s current target, a reverse-engineering project for 2005 PlayStation Portable game Liberty City Stories dubbed reLCS, is now up in the air. Work on this began in January 2021. If it does get finished, it’ll be the first time that game has had a proper PC port.