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Why r* never use real city names?


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Ever since as far I can remember gta series uses fake names to describe irl cities (except london). So why they haven't switch to using irl names?


Is it a copyright thing? I see other open world games using irl names and locations.

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Because R* Universe 

  • KEKW 2


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Algonquin Assassin

Pretty much the same reason why they use fictional names for just about everything. It’s meant to be a parody.


Personally it’s what give the GTA series one of its unique trademarks. You’d never get that from San Francisco, Miami, New York City etc.


By making the cities fictional albeit based on the real thing it allows my more creative liberties to be explored.

Edited by Algonquin Assassin
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I think the initial reasons in the very early days may have been a mix of parody and copyright (especially for vehicles) but it quickly became an iconic part of the franchise and has now, especially with V, evolved into something else entirely.


The location names, brands, car manufactuers and more are now just part of the GTA world for me, the game worlds would be worse off with real brands and names splattered all over.

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I always liked their approach of not using the real names of locations and brands tbh. It helps keep the games fresh and emphasizes the satire aspect. Like, you know Liberty City is New York City or that Los Santos is Los Angeles but they are still their own places in a way. It also makes the GTA universe(s) more interesting when it comes to the lore.

Edited by Krooked_
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It also helps a lot in world building so you don't have to be 100% accurate when creating a city.


Imagine recreating New York City with GTA III's limitations and map size, for example. It would be disappointing, incorrect and tiny to say at least.

With Liberty City however one can pretend that the map in-game is the real size of it in-lore, if you catch my idea.

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What's funny for me is that London isn't the only real geographical name they used. Florida, Georgia and Alabama are all mentioned in Vice City. It's a bit inconsistent to me.


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R* doesn't use real names when it comes to cities, cars etc. because it allows them to create their own kind of cities rather follow and parody a distinct pattern seen in IRL cities like NY, Miami, LA etc.


For example, the Carcer City we see in Manhunt is a mix of various rust-belt cities like Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. But if they were to use the real Chicago, Detroit or Philadelphia they would need to stick the corresponding city's design and stir it up that way. But Carcer City allows them to mix aspects of multiple cities together.


Pretty much the same goes for Cottonmouth in Manhunt 2. It parodies New Orleans for the most part but features aspects from other similar cities because it's not bound to be an accurate recreational parody of New Orleans.

Edited by H-G
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The answer to this is because reality is too self-limiting for the GTA universe 

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Because if you make X real life city and don’t have Y obscure landmark people are gonna lose their sh*t 

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Mister Pink

GTA III was already heavily censored because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. IIRC, they changed the colour of the police department cars and uniform so as not to resemble NYPD too closely, out of respect/fear of too much negative heat being drawn to the series. 


In a game where we shoot and kill a lot of the local law enforcement in the game, I think it's probably beneficial Rockstar can always point to the fact that their cities are fictional. Also, if you have a fictional restuarant like Burger Shot in a specific location in a real city like New York City then perhaps there would be more grounds for some corporation to suit based on the fact that the location is real and not parody. I'm guessing here. Whereas if the location is parody too it would be extremely harder to make a case. If Liberty City was really named NYC then in the game we would be killing videogame representations of the real NYPD. And that woud be pretty contentious, IMO. 


Also this..


A parody takes a piece of creative work–such as art, literature, or film–and imitates it in an exaggerated, comedic fashion. Parody often serves as a criticism or commentary on the original work, the artist who created it, or something otherwise connected to the work. In the United States, parody is protected by the First Amendment as a form of expression. However, since parodies rely heavily on the original work, parodists rely on the fair use exception to combat claims of copyright infringement. The fair use exception is governed by the factors enumerated in section 107 of the Copyright Act: (1) the purpose and character of the use; (2) the nature of the original work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the original work used; and (4) the effect on the market value of the original work. Generally, courts are more likely to find that a parody qualifies as fair use if its purpose is to serve as a social commentary and not for purely commercial gain.

parody | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)


Not only are Rockstar protected by using made up names, they're not even using the original work they parody and they're protected by another layer that is that their cities and brands are fictional too. So for me, this means they can make parody that's very close to it's source without fear of being sued.  Point is, Rockstar could probably use Fox News logo, if they wanted. If it's parody it would fall under 'fair use' for social commentary and comedic purposes, and satire. But I'm sure Fox would try suit and that would be a headache. It would be bonkers try it. 


Bottom line is having fictional titled cities actually allows them to make content extremely similar to their real life counterparts with relative impuntiy. If they didn't, they'd be walking on legal eggshells.




Edited by Mister Pink




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I think it's because they wouldn't be able to create an exact replica of New York, Los Angeles, Miami, etc.

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Detroit's mentioned by moodymann and on clothing in GTA: Online. Kinda ruins immersion, I don't know why they didn't just say he's from Carcer or Anywhere City, or something.

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I think it's because they don't want to listen to the howling from the rivet-counters about how this rando has been to Miami don't you know and the post office is on the wrong corner. Unacceptable Rockstar. Fix it.


So yeah, it gives them more license to create whatever they want.

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