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Yes, that’s right: a defunct Windows service that closed in 2013 has brought down Grand Theft Auto IV. In 2020.

Over the weekend, Grand Theft Auto IV became unavailable to purchase from Steam. The reason behind this sudden deficiency were unclear.

People speculated that it was perhaps music licenses expiring. (Remember when that hobbled Alan Wake?) The idea that Rockstar was pulling it to sell through its new storefront seemed plausible. But nobody really knew why Cousin Roman could no longer invite you bowling.

Today, Rockstar has confirmed – in a statement to The Verge – that it is in fact Games for Windows Live that has brought down Grand Theft Auto IV.

Grand Theft Auto IV was originally created for the Games For Windows Live platform. With Microsoft no longer supporting Games For Windows Live, it is no longer possible to generate the additional keys needed to continue selling the current version of the game. We are looking at other options for distributing GTAIV for PC and will share more information as soon as we can.”
– Rockstar Games spokesperson, via The Verge

So Rockstar can’t generate additional keys for its own game, Grand Theft Auto IV, because it didn’t patch out Games for Windows Live – a defunct Microsoft service – when it should have done. Seven whole years ago.

There’s a pleasing timing to that announcement, coming just a day before Windows 7 (and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2) go out of support.

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