2K Games has confirmed that Spec Ops: The Line, the cult classic shooter from 2010, is being removed from sale across digital storefronts. Alarms began ringing yesterday when the game vanished from Steam.
In a statement given to IGN, 2K said that “Spec Ops: The Line will no longer be available on online storefronts, as several partnership licenses related to the game are expiring.”
They confirmed that anyone who already owns the game can still download it and play it from their chosen platforms. However, it’s a real shame that 2K didn’t inform anyone of this happening beforehand as I’m sure there would have been at least a few people who would have grabbed it before it vanished.
Exactly what partnership licenses expired is unknown. Spec Ops: The Line did use a few licensed tracks including Jimi Hendrix’s awesome version of Star Spangled Banner. Music has indeed been the cause of games being delisted before. It could also be guns themselves in the game as their likenesses and names also have to be licensed from the manufacturers.
While it is possible that 2K could sign new licensing deals to bring Spec Ops back into digital markets, I doubt they will do that. Licensing costs money and I don’t imagine Spec Ops has enough appeal to make it worth the cost in 2K’s eyes.
Spec Ops: The Line launched in 2010 for the Xbox 360 and PS3 to a Metacritic score in the mid to high 70s. It was deemed a commercial failure by Take-Two but it did develop a cult following due to its compelling and morally complex storyline. Based heavily on Heart of Darkness, the game examined what happened to soldiers as they went through chaotic and frequently disturbing scenarios, including the killing of innocents. Although many people argued that the gameplay and the storytelling didn’t quite come together, it’s nevertheless often hailed as one of the best narratives in video games, and its disappearance is a sad day for the medium.