Grand Theft Auto V players claim they’re getting banned on PC right now, but why? Well, it’s complicated.

Players are fairly certain that mods are involved, but that’s where things get weird. Ever since the PC version of GTA V came out, user-made mods have been the story of the game, breathing strange new air into a game that’s technically two years old. But no one’s really sure how developer Rockstar feels about them. Is Rockstar OK with mods, as they were when GTA IV’s PC version became a hotbed for smoking hot graphics upgrades and drivable pop music pianos? Or are they taking steps toward banning them outright? It’s likely that the truth lies somewhere in the middle—single-player mods are cool, but multiplayer mods aren’t—but nobody knows for sure.

Advertisement

So people are worried. They’re posting all sorts of questions and claims, like this one from Steam:

And these from Reddit:

Will I get banned? What for? Why? If Rockstar is only opposed to multiplayer mods that might ruin other people’s fun, why do these claims of people getting banned for using mods in single-player keep popping up? You can’t skim a forum for more than a few seconds without stumbling across a question like that. For their part, Rockstar hasn’t really given a definitive public answer. As of writing, they had yet to respond to my request for comment.

Advertisement

Fans, then, are seeking their own explanations. Some point to GTA V’s end user license agreement (EULA)—which states that players agree not to “Reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble, prepare derivative works based on or otherwise modify the Software, in whole or in part”—as cause for concern. Others, however, note that GTA IV on PC had the same EULA, which suggests that Rockstar only reserves the right to throw people in the ban slammer for graffiti-ing up their code. As for when they exercise that right, well, that’s up to them.

The most convincing/prevalent explanation I’ve come across goes like this: due to the closed off nature of GTA V’s internal architecture, the so-called “mods” that have made waves recently aren’t really mods in the traditional sense. They don’t add anything new. Rather, they tamper with pre-existing elements of the game—add or subtract values, put whales where they’re not supposed to be, etc.

Seems innocent enough so long as it stays confined to single-player, but there’s just one problem, according to Steam user Terk: it can’t. Or at least, it’s very, very hard to ensure that it will.

“That’s the point a lot of people don’t understand here, we’re not talking addons. We’re talking DLL files that have been modified to allow a user to run ANY additional code they want and have the game accept it and execute it. There are no limits to what can be run with this and the trainer that comes as the included demonstration of scripthook is a very benign usage of the potential.”

“To give you an example of the dangers of allowing DLL Injected clients to connect to multiplayer servers or any other client for that matter, until recently, in Reign of Kings, hackers using the same method that scripthook uses, were using injected assembly code into DLLs to modify files on the computers of other players on the servers they connected to and in many cases, even the files on the servers themselves.”

“When we’re talking about DLL Injection, there is no such thing as singleplayer mod or multiplayer mod. It’s just foreign code being run, anywhere the user wants. The only way to prevent it is to check the integrity of the DLLs of any client on connection and cutting the connection as soon as a disprecency is found. It may seem like overkill, but the alternative is a complete loss of security for anyone using gta online.”

Thus, it stands to reason that Rockstar might blanket block this method of modding the game, because it’s so easy for it to seep into multiplayer, even if many players never intended for it to.

Advertisement

However, as I said earlier, Rockstar isn’t talking. At least, not out in the open, where everyone can see them. Meanwhile, some players are claiming that single-player mods have brought them nothing but joy, rainbows, and guns that fire endless streams of luxury sports cars while others can only squirm beneath Rockstar’s banhammer. What’s actually going on here? Nobody is certain yet. It would be really nice if someone could clear it up, though. Actions might speak louder than words, but actions without explanation cause chaos. And that, by my estimate, is exactly what we’re looking at here. Well, that and sky whales.

You’re reading Steamed, Kotaku’s page dedicated to all things in and around Valve’s stupidly popular PC gaming service. Games, culture, community creations, criticism, guides, videos—everything. If you’ve found anything cool/awful on Steam, send us an email to let us know.

Advertisement

To contact the author of this post, write to nathan.grayson@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter @vahn16.