Steam, PlayStation and Xbox pull critically acclaimed game forever
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Featured Image Credit: 2K Games
One of the most critically acclaimed games of its generation is no longer available to buy digitally on Steam, PlayStation and Xbox spreading further doubts over preservation in the modern digital age.
The game in question is the 2012 title Spec Ops: The Line developed by Yager Development and published by 2K Games. When Spec Ops: The Line was released over a decade ago, I think it’s fair to say that it took the video game industry by storm thanks to its tight gameplay and hard-hitting storyline.
Check out the Spec Ops: The Line trailer below!
“It’s been six months since Dubai was wiped off the map by a cataclysmic sandstorm. Thousands of lives were lost, including those of American soldiers sent to evacuate the city. Today, the city lies buried under sand, the world’s most opulent ruin,” reads the synopsis of the game. “Now, a mysterious radio signal is picked up from Dubai, and a Delta Recon Team is sent to infiltrate the city. Their mission is simple: Locate survivors and radio for Evac. What they find is a city in the grip of war. To save Dubai, they’ll have to find the man at the heart of its madness—Col. John Konrad (Nolan North).”
Sadly, on 30 January 2024, it was noticed that Spec Ops: The Line was pulled from digital sale on Steam. At the time, 2K Games did not confirm why the third-person military shooter was removed and it was still available to purchase from the Xbox store. That was until now. As of now, Spec Ops: The Line isn't just unavailable on Steam, but also on the Xbox Marketplace as well as the PlayStation Store. As reported by Kotaku, 2K Games has now explained why and the answer is a relatively simple one, the game's license has expired.
“Spec Ops: The Line will no longer be available on online storefronts, as several partnership licenses related to the game are expiring,” explained 2K Games in a statement provided to Kotaku. No further details were provided, but considering that the game has several licensed soundtracks, that is likely a reason why.
Spec Ops: The Line perhaps never reached the high sales to warrant a sequel, which is why to this day a follow-up has never arrived. That being said, fans have been calling for not only a sequel but a remaster of Spec Ops: The Line for years. So if I were to be overly optimistic, perhaps a remaster could be an answer to releasing a better version of this fantastic game with a revised “streamer” friendly soundtrack.
Naturally, fans of Spec Ops: The Line are disappointed by the news and it has once again raised questions regarding the ever-decreasing trend of video game preservation. Back in February 2023, reports were making the rounds that Xbox is planning to phase out physical games and just this year, a Ubisoft executive told us to ‘get comfortable’ with not owning our games.
“Spec Ops: The Line being delisted from digital storefronts completely undermines Xbox's vision of game preservation. More so, if Xbox future consoles are digital only,” tweeted mcquack306.
“I’ve always wanted to write about Spec Ops: The Line, but not like this,” exclaimed bywillborger. “Generally upset about the state of game preservation but specifically furious about the loss of one of the most important games of the last decade. Spec Ops: The Line was required reading and now it's gone.”
“Spec Ops: The Line is such an important piece in the history of gaming. We need some preservation in this industry,” said waitforgot.
Spec Ops: The Line is available on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 at least in physical form. It is also backwards compatible with Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One. What’s more, if you already owned the game digitally, you can still access the game. At least for now.