After keeping a close eye on GTA community sites, we've made note of a recent sharp increase in "does mod X get be banned?" questions popping up. Considering that the sales of the game are higher than in the past two years, it's clear that there is an influx of new players who don't quite know what's what around here.
So this is your friendly periodical public service announcement informing new players that absolutely every and any mod can and will get you banned from playing GTA Online. With the new rules about bans being in place, that is something you really don't want to happen.
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See, back in 2016, hacking and modding in GTA Online reached its height. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were about as lawless as online games could get due to both platform's hardware having been cracked years before, people were using character transfer to enable hacks and cheats on the un-cracked current-gen consoles and the PC was about as open and easy to hack as the older consoles.
Things got out of hand when an insurance fraud hack was introduced which caused the personal vehicle of the hacker to automatically self-destruct and fool the game into thinking another player in the lobby did it, thus deducting the insurance fee from them. The hack was self-activating and repeating, meaning victims could lose hundreds of thousands of in-game cash before quickly cutting power to their system.
Since, due to Shark Cards, this could potentially translate into a real-world loss of real money, it was a very serious situation. Between this and the proliferation of hacks in general, Rockstar cracked down in a major way. Very swiftly, PC was wiped clean of hackers who haven't managed to return en masse since, with only the odd straggler showing up these days who are quickly banned.
A new ban policy was also enacted to discourage cheating in all of its forms, with the intention of the punishment being so mercilessly severe that players wouldn't bother to risk it. No longer are you merely facing a temporary ban after which everything goes back to normal. No, every player has a maximum of two strikes in the new system, but a severe infraction will win you an instant permanent ban.
Oh, it's not like the temporary ban is still peachy either. If you only commit what amounts to a minor infraction, you'll have your right to play Online temporarily removed, and all of your progress erased. No money, no rank, no items. Everything will be gone. If you're a millionaire and have a triple digit rank, all of it will go down the drain. The best part? All bans are final. There is absolutely no way to appeal a ban.
This latter factor caused some outrage among players initially, who feared being wrongfully banned, and true enough, claims of false-positive bans appeared in droves soon after, and still do today. At first there were fears that third party software with in-game overlays such as video capture, communication and system monitoring tools would tick off the anti-cheat, but recently Rockstar clarified that only actual hacks summon the banhammer.
Fact of the matter is that less than a single percent of people claiming to be falsely banned are actually innocent. More often than not they're hackers who just want to whine on some online forum. In reality, false-positive bans are negligibly rare.
However, accidentally leaving a single player mod active when going Online will absolutely get your ass banned, and there is nothing to do about it. Yes, FOV mods will get you banned, car model mods will get you banned, graphics mods will get you banned. That funny script that lets you summon a random animal to follow you around? Banned. Trainers? Banned, obviously. Texture changes? You might be the only one who sees the difference, but banned.
The thing is, Rockstar only tolerates single player modding, and isn't entirely supportive of the idea in spite of the GTA 5 modding community being a massive and thriving chunk of the playerbase. While modding is possible, GTA 5 isn't a mod-friendly game, and the developers won't sift through the "harmless" mods and made exceptions for them in the anti-cheat.
If non-official files, or official files that have been modified and do not correspond to the vanilla reference are detected, a ban will be issues regardless of what kind of discrepancy the anti-cheat detects. There are zero exceptions, and if you go Online with a mod active, it doesn't matter if it was accidental or if the mod doesn't give you any kind of advantage, you will be banned and cannot do anything about it. The new system might seem harsh, but it's necessary.
See, the moment some kind of leniency is granted, and certain "harmless" mods are allowed, the hackers will find a way to exploit that within a day or two, and we'd all be hit with insurance fees all over again, which is something nobody wants. Incidentally, Character Transfers are most likely being axed in a few days in order to stem the tide of transfer cheaters.
Players can use accounts on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to get hacked privileges, hacked cash and hacked RP, then transfer the character over to the current gen consoles. The way the anti-cheat works is that it attempts to seek out either altered files or sudden massive and suspicious increases in a player's money or rank. If a character goes from having a few hundred bucks to several hundred million inside of a second, they're obviously hacking.
However, the transfer character appears on the new console with the hacked money already, and with no sudden positive change in the amount, the anti-cheat isn't ticked off. Add to that the lack of an changed official files, the hacker goes unnoticed. Some manner of tweak was introduced to the anti-cheat allowing it to detect hacked money sometimes, which lead to the Great De-Moneying of 2016 when billions upon billions in illegitimate cash were removed from player accounts.
There you have it, clear as day. There are no exceptions, if it's a mod, using it Online will get you banned, and that means either getting a permaban or losing all of your progress. It's worth the effort to double check whether you've cleared out all of your single player mods before going Online, or even maintaining a separate install for Multiplayer provided you're let go when it comes to storage.
It's always better to be sure with this kind of thing than to be sorry afterwards. As we mentioned, all bans are final and cannot be appealed, so if a stray mod is picked up by the anti-cheat, you'll likely have to start over, and there is no point in risking the use of what you may think is a harmless mod. Stay safe, stay vanilla.