The city attorney of Los Angeles has filed a lawsuit against New York-based Take-Two Interactive Software, alleging that the company engaged in unfair business practices by covering up pornographic material in the popular video game in order to avoid an Adults Only rating from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
Many retailers refuse to sell titles with Adults Only ratings, limiting the market for such games.
"Greed and deception are part of the 'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' story--and in that respect, its publishers are not much different from the characters in their story," Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo said in a statement Thursday. "Businesses have an obligation to truthfully disclose the content of their products--whether in the food we eat or the entertainment we consume."
A representative for Take-Two did not immediately return a call about the lawsuit.
News of the suit came the same day that a Take-Two board member resigned over concerns about the company's discovery of illicit images in the disputed game and a Federal Trade Commission investigation into the issue.
The sex scenes in the game, which the company initially blamed on hackers, have cause a public uproar. Retailers across the country pulled the game from store shelves last year, after it was rerated. Members of Congress began calling for a crackdown on the video game industry over violent and sexual content, and many states are weighing bills intended to address the issue.
According the Los Angeles city attorney, Take-Two sold more than 12 million copies of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" before the game was rerated last summer. More than 200,000 copies have been sold in California to date, generating more than $10 million in retail sales, his office said.
The civil suit seeks a portion of the company's profits from sales of the game, in addition to fines. It's part of an ongoing investigation by Los Angeles into the marketing of video games.