Take-Two’s stocks fell 13.7% to $US14.69 on the Nasdaq over the weekend - a level not seen since 2003 - after an analyst downgraded its shares to "sell" from "neutral", citing a variety of financial, operational and management risks, the main one being the recurrent Hot Coffee scandal – the embedding of hidden sex scenes in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - which returned to bite the publisher on its proverbial ass yet again late last week.
Los Angeles Attorney Rocky Delgadillo - a man with a name worthy of a character in the game - claims GTA: San Andreas, along with the sexually explicit mini-game, should have been marketed as an ‘Adults Only 18+’ title, as opposed to a mature rating. "Sexual acts are visually depicted and the player can direct the game's principal character in acts of oral copulation and intercourse," the suit says.
The discovery of the sexually explicit embedded scenes led to the game being re-rated by the industry to Adults Only in July 2005. The key point to the current lawsuit is that many video game retailers that sell Mature rated titles, but do not sell Adults Only 18+ rated games, then took it from their shelves.
Delgadillo's suit requests civil penalties against Rockstar Games and its parent company, Take-Two Interactive Software, for allegedly violating California’s Business and Professions Code.
Mr Delgadillo said the company further deceived consumers by first claiming that hackers had modified the original version of the games, then announced a week later that the sex scenes were written into the original game code.
The lawsuit demands that Take-Two and Rockstar Games stop marketing games to children, pay fines and return $US10 million in profits.