Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ Hot Coffee mod was one of Rockstar’s biggest scandals, and its effects are still being felt in the industry today.
The hot coffee mod is perhaps one of the most controversial elements that has ever been included in a Grand Theft Auto game, and that says a lot, considering all of the scandalous and offensive things players can do and have seen in the franchise over the years.
The so-called “Hot Coffee” feature was originally an inaccessible mini-game included in 2004’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It was supposed to act as an inside joke between the developers and wasn’t meant to be accessed by players due to its graphicness. However, in 2005, the Hot Coffee mod was developed for the Microsoft Windows port of San Andreas, allowing gamers to finally access the unavailable mini-game. Players later found ways to access Hot Coffee on PlayStation 2 and Xbox, despite the mini-game being completely disabled and not readily available without players purposefully looking for it.
What made Grand Theft Auto’s Hot Coffee mod so controversial is that it essentially allowed players to control a simulated sexual intercourse mini-game between the main character, Carl “CJ” Johnson, and one of his girlfriends. Using the controller, players could simulate CJ’s bodily movements by activating on-screen button prompts. The name “Hot Coffee” comes from what CJ’s girlfriends would ask before the mini-game began, with them saying “Do you want to come inside for some coffee?”
The Significance Of GTA’s Hot Coffee Mod
Rockstar Games originally tried to blame the controversy on hackers, saying the mod was entirely a third-party creation. “Hackers created the ‘Hot Coffee’ modification by disassembling and then combining, recompiling and altering the game’s source code,” the company said in a statement at the time, CNET reports. However, it was later proven the mod was accessible through pre-existing code, countering Rockstar’s claims.
Despite Rockstar’s statement, the controversy eventually caught the attention of activists and politicians, some of which began demanding a review of the Entertainment Software Rating Board’s (ESRB) standards. The ESRB subsequently launched an investigation into GTA: San Andreas’ Hot Coffee mini-game. The same year, ESRB announced GTA: San Andreas’ rating had increased from Mature to Adults Only, making it the first (and only) Grand Theft Auto game to receive such an extreme rating. Rockstar later released a “clean” version of the video game that was allowed to keep its original M rating. The scandal also led to the introduction of the Family Entertainment Protection Act, which was introduced in part by Hilary Clinton, and called for the enforcement of ESRB ratings to protect society’s youth.
Despite the controversy that the Hot Coffee mod created, it has inspired other third-party modifications of a similar nature. Most recently, someone created a Hot Coffee mod specifically for Red Dead Redemption 2. Rather than unlocking code hidden in the game, the RDR2 mod uses in-game animations to create an explicit scene. Rockstar reportedly asked the mod’s creator to take it down, though they refused, saying their mod doesn’t contain any nudity and only uses sounds already featured in the game. Given how much trouble Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ Hot Coffee mod caused the developer, it’s doubtful that Rockstar is happy Hot Coffee is seeing new life in Red Dead Redemption 2.