The surprising Hot Coffee lawsuit filed yesterday by the office of Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo (left), a Democrat, could have broad implications for the video game industry, not just Rockstar and Take Two Interactive.
Moments ago, GamePolitics talked with Jonathan Diamond, a spokesman for Delgadillo's office. Of the lengthy investigation, Diamond said, "It's been going on for quite a while. I don't know the exact start date, but it's been a few months. It was prompted by the revelation about what was going on with Take Two and Rockstar, the San Andreas Hot Coffee scenes."
But what about the implication that other games and companies may be under investigation?
"We can't talk about the pending investigation," Diamond told GP. The spokesman did reveal that the case has not been presented to a grand jury.
"The city attorney is the driving force behind it and he's directing the chief of our Criminal and Special Litigation branch, who is a former U.S. Attorney," Diamond said. As to whether the video game industry has been cooperating with the probe, Diamond said cryptically, "We have been communicating with them and sharing information."
So how does the Los Angeles case fit in with what would seem to be a quite similar investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)?
"I'm not aware of the specifics of the FTC investigation," Diamond said.
The financial implications of the L.A. case could be staggering for Take Two. According to Diamond, "This action was brought under two sections of California's Business and Professions Code... Both carry maximum penalties of $2,500 per violation. But as we view it, each sale withing California would be a violation and because it's brought under an unfair marketing claim, any time an advertisement was seen by someone, that could be a violation as well."
As for the game industry, ESA spokesman Jeff Woodbury said the organization would have no comment on either the lawsuit or the broader implications of the L.A. City Attorney's investigation into video game marketing in general.