GTAIV ads pulled because of San Andreas flap

Chicago Transit Authority gave up a contract potentially worth more than $200,000 in revenue because people complained about another ad campaign more than three years ago.

Earlier this week, a Fox TV affiliate reported on a series of ads for Take-Two Interactive's Grand Theft Auto IV being pulled from buildings and buses belonging to the Chicago Transit Authority. Like a delay on the Brown Line, details are only now starting to trickle out about the deal.

A CTA representative confirmed the aborted ad campaign for GameSpot, explaining that the reason for pulling it actually has more to do with the last installment of the Rockstar-developed gaming franchise, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In 2004, the CTA received a number of complaints about a series of ads promoting the Take-Two Interactive hit, but the furor hit as the campaign was ending, so the spots--reportedly worth $90,000 to the agency--weren't pulled.

Since that time, the CTA has found a new company to handle its advertising, one that was unaware of the previous flap. That company agreed to a six-week campaign featuring 385 ads for Grand Theft Auto IV, one that had barely begun before the transit authority decided to yank it. The CTA representative said the ads were removed specifically because of the 2004 complaints surrounding the San Andreas ad campaign, not because people were complaining about the Grand Theft Auto IV spots.

The ad company was set to receive $316,000 for the ads, but how much the move will cost the CTA is a little murkier. Under the terms of the deal, the ad company has guaranteed the CTA $22.5 million this year, or 65 percent of its net receipts, whichever is greater. So if the ad company has a banner year, pulling the GTAIV ads could cost the CTA as much as $205,400. On the other hand, if ad sales fall short of that threshold, the pulled ads won't cost the CTA a dime because of the guaranteed payout.

The CTA does not accept ads for alcohol or tobacco products, but it will allow campaigns promoting R-rated films.

"CTA guidelines require ads to be truthful, and not directed at inciting imminent lawless action," the CTA representative explained. "They cannot be legally obscene or portraying graphic violence."

The representative also dismissed concerns of the pulled advertising campaign opening it up to a lawsuit from Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games claiming violation of their First Amendment rights to free speech. According to the rep, "The CTA has the right to regulate and establish guidelines for advertising on its properties."

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138 comments
johnryandaplin
johnryandaplin

@illkillyou do you actually expect us to read through that?

BlueFlameBrat
BlueFlameBrat

CTA should have looked the deal over before signing in the first place.

illkillyou
illkillyou

Come on people. You can't absolve GTA IV from blame by pointing to other forms of media. Rappers preach gang life, it's true. But so does GTA IV. It preaches violence just the same. Look, I'm all about free speech, and I'm not opposed to GTA IV being made or played, and hell I'd play it myself if I had the money to lay down for a PS3. But what I'm saying is, why do we as gamers cling to GTA as our flag? It's just giving politicians more ammo to blame real shootings on our lifestyle. Why can't we just elect other games as our ambassador to the public and we can get back to blowing up innocent people after all this controversy has died down. People are going to argue with me all day long about this, but when you live in the inner city and know someone who has died from being shot, an advertisement on the side of a bus glorifying gang life is like an advertisement glofirying bombing buildings in New York city. It's just **** wrong. Also, to my boy ItalianHammer, for your information I typed this SN in at random to get into some Gamespot feature ages ago and now that I contribute to forums more, I would like to change it, but can't. You're awfully sensitive about my Tag for a guy who admittedly enjoys virtually banging hookers and running over innocent people. Also, when your country has more than 2 gun deaths per 100,000 people (compared to 15 per 100,000 in the US), you can come back and talk to me about city life. chump.

azlan2k7
azlan2k7

illkillyou you really think a non realistic picture on the side of a bus depicting violence is going to make kids do drugs or join gangs and kill people? Your looking in the wrong place. Have you thought about that ignorant rap music inner city kids listen to? I wont go as far as to say all of it is bad but a lot of it is about inner city gangs and violence. Oh and they have "gun toting" music videos too! Why point the finger at a game? Rap artists are what ALOT of inner city kids look up to.

ItalianHammerUS
ItalianHammerUS

To the "guy who calls himself ILLKILLYOU 1 - I reported you cause i do not think your username should be tolerated. 2 - I am from Napoli Italy so i know a thing or 2 about difficult, violent places to grow up in but i strongly disagree with your comments and for various reasons 1 - GTA is an artistically incredibly valuable ambassador for video gaming, as an aduld gamer i won;t let anybody tell me what i should or should not play. The strong violence in game is for an M rated audience not for kids . 2 - Would they have pulled the adds if it was of such masterpieces as The Godfather, Scarface or Braveheart? NO, cause movies are a much more mainstream medium the video games are. If the add had no violence portraid in it the CTA made a very dumb decision only based on the tremendous ignorance surraunding video gaming, cause hating on video games is "cool" nowadays . If you let uninformed people tell you what you should play or consider a great game i do not.

ItalianHammerUS
ItalianHammerUS

This saddens me a lot. Thinking that R* created a masterpiece and they are being treated like a bunch of gangsters. It must be very sad being an artist and not being recognized for your work, very sad indeed.

illkillyou
illkillyou

I spent a lot of my life living 1 block away from the most dangerous part of Cincinnati, and have a lot of family in Chicago. I think all you suburban kids criticizing the CTA for this decision are totally out of line. Sorry people, but when there are drugs being dealt, people being shot, and race riots happening 1 block away from your house, you get a little more sensitive about ads with gun-toting criminals plastered all over them. I accept Rockstar's right to free speech, but I think we need to move away from GTA, people. The media already attacks it and pretty much only it in the 'war on video games' and all we do is sit here and **** about 'what's so bad about GTA?!?' . Well seriously, we need to choose a new embassador for video games or we'll never get out from under this rock, folks. So I think the CTA made a perfectly reasonable decision, and if you don't think so, move into the apartment across from me and try inner city life a while. There's a vacancy there because the previous resident got mugged 4 times this year and couldn't take it anymore.

andalore
andalore

Rockstar Doesnt Need Advertisement For A Game Like GTA, GTA Has A Rep and Everyone Knows of it, and no matter how many billboards it has people know GTA4 is out and People are gonna buy it

Impostorzim
Impostorzim

You guys watch, that in the next few months, Rockstar is gonna have alot of bottom feeders on their hands. I hope noone forgot about everybody's favorite Floridian!

Lauryn2000
Lauryn2000

Poor Niko...even before he takes over Liberty City he's being banned in Chicago...he don't need no stinking ads to sell Grand Theft Auto IV...:P

JediStorm
JediStorm

oh yea, so it's ok to make movies that are about crime and the bad guys winning, or its ok to make a movie like saw and show a preview for it on tv or at the movies. but if anyone makes a game were the people arn't even real and they commit a virtual crime, then shame on them.

CageFury
CageFury

You know, instead of enjoying my life, I think I will go complain about some ad I saw on a bus today.

Merl57
Merl57

You know why there is violence in Chicago? because people are ignoring the real issues and going after video games because they don't understand them.

emgesp
emgesp

Why are people such morons? OMG, my life is so worthless that I have to get upset my a video game ad.

Honchy
Honchy

I feel this is nonsense and the woman in the video's right: you can't block advertisements just cause you're a bad parent.

dvros
dvros

If your not remotely located near Chicago... never been to Chicago.. or ever stepped foot in O'Hare Airport, then you really are out of line to knock on a city I grew up in and around. The CTA did what they felt was right, besides the game already has enough attention to be effective.

F4ll3n_1
F4ll3n_1

I think that in an age of increased media awareness, arguments related to ads *telling* people they must do/have something are completely debunkable. (It's known as the Syringe Theory). We're more than aware of what ads do to us to be able to ignore them.

Bannsai
Bannsai

well I guess it's up to them if they want to get the add campain or not. you can't like force em to take it right? anyway the debate is where i see some bretty wierd arguments. "the adds are bad for our children!" or "they cant ignore it, if it's in there face all the time." well you dont have to buy it? or is it iam thats stupid? i mean if you dont want you kids to play then dont let them.

SAMaster63
SAMaster63

How they can claim that its inappropriate or deemed controversial is completely crazy.

CrimsonBlade1
CrimsonBlade1

ok first off this whole advertisment controversy is childish, they really need to let go of the past if everyone did there would be less trouble in the world. Second this is nothing like the others for the fact that there is multiplayer online, with a new free roam game mode, so don't assume this is just another shoot em up crime game, because its most certaintly not, infact theirs got to be more changes in this one then all of the games that were released in the series during the ps2 era combined.

khoofia_pika
khoofia_pika

c1on, to each his own. you cant dictate anyone's opinions!

c1on
c1on

Charizard you're talking like it's the same sort of upgrade as SA was to VC, when it clearly isn't which either means you haven't read anything about it or you've played it and haven't given to the time of day. Please atleast get your facts straight before posting something like that...

Arghyeeho
Arghyeeho

lol, all that just to say that you're not going to buy it? You must really think your opinion is important to everyone, huh? :P

charizard1605
charizard1605 moderator

Okay, please don't get me wrong here. Though I know I'll probably get a rating of -57 or something for this comment, I do feel I must say what I feel about GTA IV. Now, I really don't think this is all that different than the previous GTA games. Oh, sure, we have to break open a car's window before we can get in, and all that other stuff, but my point is, I've seriously not noticed a lot of difference in these crime based free roaming games. All of them are just the same: you can either roam about in an invredibly life like city, talk to people, shoot 'em up for fun etc, or do the missions and progress through the story (which, incidentally, is the same in all of these games... at least in the essentials). So, while I find GTA Vice City to be almost identical to San Andreas and The Godfather in terms of gameplay, I still find the games fun. Now here, I shall move into the realm of subjectivity. I would now like to voice my opinion on the GTA series. I find it fun, that's for sure. It's fun, cool, and a great stress buster... a cool way to take your mind off things... BUT, and I repeat, BUT... that's about it. They're good games, and that's where it ends. For me, no GTA is worth more than a score of 9 (which I'd award to San Andreas). Also, I don't like the depiction of crime and violence in the city... and it's not that I can't stand violent games, because I have played (and loved) games like God of War, in spite of their blatantly over the top violence. And now, GTA IV, to me, is just about the same as GTA III or GTA San Andreas. Not enough to make me shell out 60 bucks, to buy a game that pretty much plays out like all the previous instalments. So what I'm saying is, though GTA IV may turn out to be awesome, and people may love it, I've had enough free roaming action to last me a lifetime. Now go ahead, I'm waiting for that negative rating.

charizard1605
charizard1605 moderator

Okay, please don't get me wrong here. Though I know I'll probably get a rating of -57 or something for this comment, I do feel I must say what I feel about GTA IV. Now, I really don't think this is all that different than the previous GTA games. Oh, sure, we have to break open a car's window before we can get in, and all that other stuff, but my point is, I've seriously not noticed a lot of difference in these crime based free roaming games. All of them are just the same: you can either roam about in an invredibly life like city, talk to people, shoot 'em up for fun etc, or do the missions and progress through the story (which, incidentally, is the same in all of these games... at least in the essentials). So, while I find GTA Vice City to be almost identical to San Andreas and The Godfather in terms of gameplay, I still find the games fun. Now here, I shall move into the realm of subjectivity. I would now like to voice my opinion on the GTA series. I find it fun, that's for sure. It's fun, cool, and a great stress buster... a cool way to take your mind off things... BUT, and I repeat, BUT... that's about it. They're good games, and that's where it ends. For me, no GTA is worth more than a score of 9 (which I'd award to San Andreas). Also, I don't like the depiction of crime and violence in the city... and it's not that I can't stand violent games, because I have played (and loved) games like God of War, in spite of their blatantly over the top violence. And now, GTA IV, to me, is just about the same as GTA III or GTA San Andreas. Not enough to make me shell out 60 bucks, to buy a game that pretty much plays out like all the previous instalments. So what I'm saying is, though GTA IV may turn out to be awesome, and people may love it, I've had enough free roaming action to last me a lifetime. Now go ahead, I'm waiting for that negative rating.

DrKill09
DrKill09

If this is over Hot Coffee, they REALLY need to grow up. That wasn't any adult or offensive at all. I've honestly seen worse on FX or Spike. As I've said before, running around in a gimp suit with a big rubber **** was ok, but hidden code used for dry humping is WRONG?! WTF?! :roll:

PU83
PU83

I actually live in Chicago. There is a huge GTA4 ad plastered on my bus stop. I've seen several posters for the game in the last week. This story doesn't add up....

dave2thegrave
dave2thegrave

Even over here in Wellington, NZ. We got GTA4 on public buses, its crazy how much money they spend on games when they dont have to. I buy games if they get a gud review but more importantly if a mate said good things about it. I dont understand the whole marketing BS put into games, like me walking round town and seeing GTA4 on a bus, "im deffinatley buying it now". lol stop wasting money on advertising, were gonna buy it dont worry.

BoaMo121
BoaMo121

Looks like GTA ads are making people a little nervous these days, but there is no concern with ,"promoting R-rated films", which can contain as much if not more adult content than GTA.

Nawras
Nawras

3 years... wow do people have long term memory

hunter8man
hunter8man

Couldn't the money that they would have received from this been beneficial to improving the CTA? CTA = Epic Fail

slintpong
slintpong

They don't need to advertise GTA 4 no more, everyone on the planet knows of it already... Exept maybe my grandma ;)

lordmarkitgs
lordmarkitgs

Personally I don't see why there was advertising in such a small area (in relative terms), when this game is a world-wide hit. Use the TV, Internet and let the word of mouth advertise for free. And people complaining to the CTA. LAME! If you don't like an advert above your seat.. DON'T LOOK AT IT!.

DarkStreetDev
DarkStreetDev

CTA - get a life. Your narrow-mindedness costs you money.

BMI_2005
BMI_2005

Chicago isn't all that bad. It was just one Ad campaign theres still advertisements in the windows and all that. just not in CTA buildings and train stations

Deity_Slapper
Deity_Slapper

This is just more exposure for Rockstar and GTA 4. It's good news.

JGoWild
JGoWild

One thing is for sure there won't be any GTA: Chicago.............

goobert2
goobert2

wow another pointless article from gamespot bravo

NA3D
NA3D

I just like bashing EA and government... So that explains my response, haha. I say go R*, you just got massive free press because of all of this. So who are the marketing masters of the game industry for getting free advertisement? R*!

shawn7324
shawn7324

Advertising this game is no different than a movie of the same nature. Not having GTA IV ads displayed isn't going to lower the amount of sickos & maniacs.

OmegaBob
OmegaBob

Why are people still thinking this is related to Fox News? It was the... wait for it... LOCAL Fox affiliate that first reported the story. LOCAL... not NATIONAL. Jeez

ciaxhieu
ciaxhieu

T2 have the right to put those ads up

brerrabbit23
brerrabbit23

1) Rockstar is getting national advertising exposure because CTA pulled a local ad. Point, Rockstar. 2) CTA has either decided that it's more beholden to Fox News than it is to the citizens of Chicago (who fund it's operation), or that virtual violence is equally punishable under the law as real violence... which begs the question... why allow rated R movies? Point, NOBODY.

Djmaster214
Djmaster214

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