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2K removes Spec Ops: The Line from sale on all storefronts

The publisher cites expired licenses as the cause

2K is delisting the classic FPS game Spec Ops: The Line from all online storefronts, and the removal may be permanent. The move comes amid a growing sentiment of concern over the stability of digital media, as distributors such as HBO, Sony, and even Square Enix and EA remove their media, often without warning or cause.

Spec Ops: The Line released in 2012, and while critics and fans were less than impressed with its FPS mechanics, they praised Spec Ops’ unflinching portrayal of war’s brutalities.

Fans started noticing Spec Ops: The Line vanished from Steam on Jan. 29, 2024. Publisher 2K made no comment on the matter at the time, though The Line’s director, Cory Davis expressed confusion on Twitter.

“Makes no sense,” Davis said. “Especially because the themes portrayed in Spec Ops: The Line are more relevant now than ever. Why has this happened?”

David directed that last question to 2K, though the company only issued a public statement to Stephen Totilo, formerly Axios’ senior games reporter.

“Players who have purchased the game can still download and play the game uninterrupted.” a 2K spokesperson told Totilo. “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.”

2K said it removed Spec Ops as “several partnership licenses related to the game are expiring.” The spokesperson didn’t say whether 2K intends to renew those licenses, so the game’s future remains unclear.