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In June, 2005, a file dubbed Hot Coffee was released that modifies Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. After installing the patch/mod, users can enter the protagonist's girlfriends' houses and engage in a crudely rendered, partially clothed sexual intercourse mini-game.
This feature was disabled from the game before release, but not actually removed. PatrickW (real name Patrick Wildenborg) released a modification (the Hot Coffee mod) to enable it. This was made available for download on PC in June 9, 2005 through GTAGarage.com and was released for the PS2 and Xbox soon after.
The second major release of the Hot Coffee mod, often referred to by its version name Hot Coffee v2 to differentiate from the original, was released just days after the original and largely replaced it. The v2 version is identical in gameplay to the original but replaces the semi-nude girlfriends' textures with unclothed bitmaps that cannot be seen without the mod and also includes the "sacensor" program which can flip the status of the in-game censorship for easier access.
The original download link to the mod was later removed over a month after its release in July 2005 by PatrickW as a sign of support towards Rockstar following the controversy surrounding it. However, numerous copies of the originals as well as newly created versions continue to be availiable for download. All versions of the mod are limited to being compatable with the first version of GTA: SA as subsequent releases have removed vital scenes and coding essential to launching the mod after the controversy.
The name "Hot Coffee" refers to the way the released game alludes to the unseen sex scenes. In the unmodified game, the player takes his girlfriend to her front door and she asks him if he would like to come in for "some coffee." He agrees, and the camera stays outside, swaying back and forth a bit, while moaning sounds are heard and various comments from Carl and his girlfriend. Since the camera is outside the house, all these sounds are severely muted. "Coffee" is usually offered once Carl reaches a certain relationship percentage, although if he collects all the oyster pick-ups, coffee is offered automatically, even after the first date.
Re-ratings and Controversies
Jack Thompson and other anti-gaming advocates denounced the Hot Coffee mod in the media, as if it were an existing feature of the game that children could easily stumble across. This led to the game being pulled from stores across the USA, and re-rated as AO (Adults Only) by the ESRB (already an 18 in the UK). Rockstar was forced to permanently remove this feature and they soon released a non-modifiable 2nd edition of GTA San Andreas, which regained the M rating.
In the middle of July 2005, the ESRB, as well as various politicians including Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), launched an investigation into the Hot Coffee mod. Initially, Rockstar released a statement that strongly suggested that the Hot Coffee content was entirely created by "hackers". However, this claim was undermined when codes were released on web forums for the PlayStation 2 Gameshark and AR Max cheating devices that demonstrated that the controversial content was, indeed, built into the console versions.
On July 20, 2005, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was re-rated as "AO" (Adults Only) by the ESRB. Rockstar has halted production of all versions of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and planned to release a censored version of the game, which intended to conform to the initial "M" rating, later that year. Due to the new AO rating, many major retail outlets, including Sears, Hollywood Video, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Blockbuster Video, Target and GameStop, pulled the PC and console versions of the game from their shelves.
On July 29, 2005, as a result of the newly discovered scenes, the (OFLC) Office of Film and Literature Classification (Australia) revoked the game's "MA15+" classification (the highest available for computer games in Australia at the time), and changed the game's status to "RC" (Refused Classification) meaning that the original version could no longer be sold in Australia. The patched version was given an "MA15+" classification on September 12, 2005.
As of July 23, 2005, the PEGI rating for the game remained unchanged, although it was likely that the PEGI sexual content label was going to be added to the game cover.
On August 10, 2005, Rockstar Games officially released a patch for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Nicknamed the "Cold Coffee Patch" by some, the patch fixed many performance issues and bugs. However, the most notable addition was that the patch disabled the controversial "Hot Coffee" scenes, even if the "Hot Coffee" mod was reinstalled.
The game has since been re-released with the "Hot Coffee" scenes removed (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas 2.0 and subsequent releases), allowing the game to return to its "M" rating. However, the "Hot Coffee" mod dashed financial expectations for TakeTwo Games, which lost $28.8 million in its fiscal 3rd quarter of 2005 (May to July) partly because of the re-rating; the company lost $14.4 million in the same quarter in 2004.
In December 2007, Take Two Interactive approved a class action settlement with an exchange or refund for the original game copies. According to final report only 2,676 people were reported to have returned game, compared to over twelve-million sales.
In September 2009, Take Two finally settled the class-action lawsuit brought against them for US$20m, of which 15m will be paid by insurers and 5m by the company itself.
Rockstar has since vowed legal action against any subsequent sources that reveal how to access this part of the game, mainly cheat device code sites.
On the iOS and Steam ports of GTA: SA, the codes are cut out completely, along with the models.
- In GTA IV, there are references to the Hot Coffee incident. An achievement called "Warm Coffee" can be unlocked. When coming back from a date with any girlfriend, Niko Bellic asks "Could I come in for some hot coffee?" Depending on how well the date went, the girlfriend can let Niko go to her apartment or refuse to let him in. The aforementioned achievement is unlocked when Niko is first invited into the girlfriend's apartment. (Ironically, GTA IV, due in part to its improved graphics, features content somewhat more suggestive than that of the hot coffee scenes, such as in Niko's interaction with prostitutes and strippers).
- Sometimes, the girlfriend will ask Niko if he wants coffee, but if the player decides against this, Niko will respond with "I'm sorry, but I don't want to get burned."
- The hot coffee incident is also referenced in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. In GTA Liberty City Stories, Maria Latore invites Toni during the final cutscene of the mission "Taken for a Ride" to join her for "coffee" at her house. Toni tells her that he'll pass. In GTA Chinatown Wars, Huang Lee asks Ling for "coffee" at the end of "Pursuit Farce" but she rejects his advances.
- In November 11, 2005, FOX program Killer Instinct's latest episode Game Over referenced GTA: SA, the Hot Coffee mod, and murderer Devin Moore. The episode focused on a hit online video-game with explicit violence that could cause players to murder people. Other parts of it showed teenagers playing it and unlocking sexually explicit scenes and mini-games. With detectives trying to find the creator of the game, get information and stop the murderer who's been playing the game for hours. The fictional game title was Murder One: San Francisco and the box art looks similar to San Andreas and Vice City but with poorly drawn art. Also, the fake game is actually pre-rendered with models from Poser. It is also combined with another controversial game, 25 to Life, a cops and robbers simulator.