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Creator of AI-Powered GTA 5 Story Mode Mod Unlikely to Fight Back Against Take-Two After Shutdown

The creator of an eye-catching Grand Theft Auto 5 mod that promised a living, AI-powered story mode has admitted defeat after Take-Two hauled the mod offline.

Only this week IGN reported on the Sentient Streets mod, which lets players interact with over 30 AI-powered NPCs, each with a unique voice from AI text-to-speech and voice cloning website ElevenLabs. The mod is designed for players to have open-ended, voiced conversations with cult members, police officers, and civilians.

But its creator, Bloc, announced Take-Two had issued a copyright claim on their YouTube video showing off the mod and had the mod removed from NexusMods. Even Bloc’s account on Netlify, which was used to host the installation guide for the mod, was suspended. Bloc manually removed the mod from GTA5-Mods.com to avoid legal issues.

In a statement, a clearly exacerbated Bloc said they have neither the resources or wherewithal to fight back against Take-Two.

“I can, of course, raise an objection through YouTube's objection system, but this escalates things to legal authorities,” Bloc said. “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.”

Bloc accused Take-Two of removing the video from YouTube without prior communication or explanation. Before the takedown, it had over 100,000 views. Before the mod itself was pulled from NexusMods, it had thousands of downloads, Bloc said.

“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,” Bloc added. “If the real reason of this takedown is really me using GTA 5 in the video, then one might ask, if using GTA 5 in the video is a copyright strike reason, how is it possible that there are millions of YouTube videos on here at this very moment that showcases or simply does let’s play videos for over a decade without any problems?

“Unfortunately, this seems to look like an excuse to attack and take a stance against the mod. Which is somewhat puzzling to me, considering that the mod itself is both FREE and open-source.

“The mod does not utilize 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.”

"... this hostile attitude towards me and the mod is very disheartening.

Bloc’s project had raised a number of ethical issues around the use of AI for mods. Bloc used the standard voice library available on ElevenLabs, which was recently used to generate controversial AI voices used in NSFW Skyrim Mods. The recent rise of AI has been a concern for both writers and actors, causing one voice actor to tell IGN AI is the "invisible enemy we're fighting right now”.

“Whether you like it or not, or dislike the idea of having AI in video games, is one thing,” Bloc said in their statement. “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.”

Rockstar recently announced it is now officially working with the modding team behind the wildly popular Grand Theft Auto 5 roleplay servers FiveM and RedM. But the developer and parent company Take-Two have had an antagonistic relationship with the modding community over the years. In 2015, Rockstar banned the team behind the FiveM mod, calling the project “an unauthorised alternate multiplayer service that contains code designed to facilitate piracy”. The founder of the mod later alleged Rockstar parent company Take-Two sent private investigators to their home to intimidate them into shutting down the project.

The takedown of this AI-powered GTA 5 mod comes ahead of the unveiling of Grand Theft Auto 6, which may come out as early as 2024.

In a follow-up statement, Bloc said they’d spoken with YouTube support about the takedown: “if you have a channel that contains any footage from GTA, RDR2, Manhunt etc, you are in the hands of Take-Two IP sharks, and they can basically take down anything they want even the entire channel, regardless of how fun or how ‘unique’ your videos are,” Bloc claimed. “Basically, Take-Two decides which video is ‘Ok’ and which video isn't, YouTube doesn't care.”

IGN has asked Rockstar for comment. For now, it seems, Bloc’s Sentient Streets mod is dead in the water.

Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at wesley_yinpoole@ign.com or confidentially at wyp100@proton.me.

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