Earlier today, players noticed that Spec Ops: The Line was no longer available to purchase on Steam, leading many to fear that the acclaimed third-person shooter had been quietly delisted without warning. Sadly, 2K has since confirmed that is the case, and the publisher has also explained why it pulled the landmark shooter.
Developed by Yager and released back in 2012, Spec Ops: The Line was a reboot of the lesser-known Spec Ops franchise. Like those past games, The Line was a third-person military shooter. However, the 2012 reboot garnered critical acclaim at launch thanks to its narrative which depicted a solider in the deserts of Dubai slowly losing his grip on reality, offering a meta-critical take on the way some military shooters glorify the horrors of war. While it didn’t sell as many copies as 2K would have liked, the game has gone on to become a cult favorite among shooter fans. And now, it’s no longer on Steam.
On January 29, folks began to notice that Spec Ops: The Line had been removed from Steam and other storefronts, like Fanatical. People wondered if 2K had delisted the game, possibly due to expiring licensing rights on some music featured in it. And that seems to be the case, according to a 2K spokesperson.
“Spec Ops: The Line will no longer be available on online storefronts, as several partnership licenses related to the game are expiring,” explained 2K in a statement sent over to Kotaku. No specific licenses were named, but among the noteworthy music tracks included in the game are Jimi Hendrix’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Rooster” by Alice in Chains.
The publisher assured players that owners of the game will still be able to download and replay Spec Ops: The Line “uninterrupted” but it will no longer be easy to buy a digital copy moving forward. Currently, the game is still for sale on GoG, but the above statement seems to indicate that will change soon.
“2K would like to thank our community of players who have supported the game, and we look forward to bringing you more offerings from our label throughout this year and beyond,” said 2K in its statement.
While there had been talks of a sequel for years, it seems 2K isn’t even willing to tease that and instead is just letting Spec Ops: The Line fade away like a mirage in the desert. It’s just one more game—on an ever-growing list—that will be harder to play as the years go by.