On Thursday, June 4, publisher Rockstar Games temporarily closed access to two popular online games, Grand Theft Auto Online and Red Dead Online. The shutdown occurred from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time.
Other companies were inspired by Rockstar’s actions and chose to implement a similar shutdown. Participants included Social Point, Private Division, and 2K Games, all of which is owned by Take-Two Interactive alongside Rockstar. Titles affected by the closure included NBA 2K, Monster Legend, Dragon City, The Outer Worlds, and Kerbal Space Program.
Rockstar Games confirmed in an official tweet that the shutdown was carried out to honor the Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing protests and media blackouts around the world. These protests demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black individuals unjustly murdered by police.
In a follow-up tweet, Rockstar encouraged players and fans to support the movement alongside them. “Following the memorial,” they wrote, “we hope you will join us in further honoring the many victims of America’s racial injustices.” The tweet also included a link to Charity Navigator. This website provides information about many different organizations that you can donate to support the fight against police violence.
Black Lives Matter. To honor the legacy of George Floyd, today, 6/4/20, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. ET, we will be shutting down access to our online games, Grand Theft Auto Online and Red Dead Online.
— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) June 4, 2020
Comments on the Tweet point out the appropriateness of the shutdown, as the Grand Theft Auto series has long been known for featuring violent members of the police (although player characters are permitted and sometimes even encouraged to defend themselves and fight back).
Other game developers and publishers have also been showing solidarity and support for Black Lives Matter in various ways. Updates to both Fortnite and Borderlands 3 have been delayed, as having the start of IGN’s Summer of Gaming, CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk 2077 Night City Wire, and Sony’s announcement regarding the upcoming PlayStation 5 console. Fans have also held socially distant protests within various online games, including the wildly popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons.