This was initially being written to explain why the ports are absent from the essential applications corner, but this has since become more of a blog post than an explanation.
One of those famous homebrew releases in the recent years has been the fact Grand Theft Auto 3D-era games have been ported to the PlayStation Vita. These games work using fantastic development efforts by developers to load in Android libraries and port over to Vita as much as possible. This results in a pretty seamless experience of Android games on the Vita. Naturally, the first ports of call for conversion are the range of Grand Theft Auto games on the Play Store.
For these to work, you would purchase and download the game from the Play Store. Once acquired, you could copy the assets off your phone and onto the Vita, and with some jiggery-pokery, you’d have your copy of the game running on your Vita. This was win-win: The developer can distribute the source code as it contains no illegal content distribution, and you can play your legally purchased game copy (as it’s pretty much running on Android).
We still hat-tip to the developers for porting Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to the Vita. If you had told me when I was playing it on PlayStation 2 that I’d be playing it hand-held, I would’ve laughed… And so soon! ModernVintageGamer covers the port extremely well.
So What’s the Problem?
Unfortunately, for a little while TakeTwo Interactive (the company that owns Rockstar Games, and in turn Grand Theft Auto) have been sending DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1998) requests to these developers to remove their code from GitHub. To explain it in short, a DMCA is a way of saying “you’re sharing our intellectual property in a way we don’t approve/monetise”. In most cases this is true, but since the developers are requiring you to source the game files yourself, they’re not violating the DMCA. GitHub saw it this way, and restored the developer repositories back.
TakeTwo did not approve of this, and have now taken up a Class Action Lawsuit against the developers. We won’t weigh our opinion on this, but IGN has covered the lawsuit. but this action has caused serious damage to the PlayStation Vita homebrew community, and to homebrew development as a whole. As a result, all official Grand Theft Auto Vita conversions have been removed. The only way to currently get these is by people who have already got the files and are happy to share this content against the law.
What’s the Outcome?
The lawsuit is still ongoing, but the speculation to the resulting decision is mixed. The decision will likely be of a landmark impact on the homebrew development scene, as it could change the defining parameters of where the fine line between homebrew development and intellectual property defence is.
Please note these are both author speculations. They are not reflective of the court decisions, and act more as a commentary on speculation after the fact.
Ideally the case will either be dropped or settled outside of court. This will have the least impact on the current homebrew community and developments can continue into making Android ports. The defence being that for these ports to work, you still need to legally obtain a copy of the game. Those that do not are still violating the copyright law in a similar manner to ROM sites.
Should the courts side with Take-Two, this has a high chance of scaring off a lot of community developers from the homebrew scene. This wouldn’t impact tools, indie games and exploits (latter falls with Sony, who encourage exploit finding), but efforts like this to port games over to consoles without publisher authorisation will be impacted, as the legality of their actions will become an even more grey area than it already was.
Here at ReviveToday we will keep an eye on the developments and make them available to download should the lawsuit conclude in favour of the homebrew developers. But hopefully this explains why the ports went quickly from ground-breaking conversion news, to suddenly absent from the internet.
- Take Two have filed a lawsuit against the creators of Re3 – Wololo
- Take-Two Suing GTA3 Reverse Engineering devs…and it doesn’t look good – MVG, YouTube
- Now Take-Two is going after GTA reverse engineering projects – EuroGamer
- Take-Two Is Suing Reverse-Engineered GTA 3 and Vice City Fan Project Creators – IGN
- Grand Theft Auto modders that tried to get around a DMCA claim get walloped with Take-Two lawsuit – PC Gamer