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Spec Ops: The Line is gone from Steam, and Xbox may be next

Already delisted from Steam, Spec Ops: The Line could be set to disappear from digital storefronts entirely, including the Xbox store.

Xbox Spec Ops The Line delisted: a soldier with short brown hair next to the Xbox logo

Cult shooter Spec Ops: The Line has mysteriously been delisted from Steam, leaving its future unclear on the Xbox digital storefront.

While Spec Ops: The Line’s still available on the Xbox store at the time of writing, that’s not to say it won’t eventually follow suit. It may be a Steam-only issue, seeing as other third-party storefronts like GOG continue to sell one of the best games of the seventh console generation. However, it could also be a case of Steam being the first to the punch.

Though it’s currently unclear why Spec Ops: The Line has been delisted in the first place, the major suspect is music licenses that have expired – a possibility highlighted by Riad Djemili, a developer who worked as a programmer on the game. Alan Wake faced the same issue back in 2017, leading to its removal from all digital storefronts until Microsoft eventually renegotiated the rights to its music.

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It must be said that Spec Ops: The Line’s soundtrack absolutely slaps, thanks to the likes of Alice in Chains, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, and Mogwai appearing on it. But if they’ve only been licensed for a limited time then it makes sense that this is the reason for the game’s removal from Steam, which was initially spotted by ‘Wario64’ on Twitter.

As director Cory Davis tweets, though, the timing for Spec Ops: The Line’s removal could not be worse considering the importance of its message in the current geopolitical climate. Released at a time when jingoistic shooters were rife, the game was remarkably self-aware of the horrors of war and made you face the consequences of your actions. Hopefully, publisher 2K will be able to renegotiate music rights should they be the issue, and bring the game back online.

Should Spec Ops: The Line soon be taken down for good, then we’d advise you to take the opportunity to pick it up and play through its excellent campaign.

We would extend the same advice to those on PlayStation, but sadly Spec Ops: The Line has been absent from the PS Store for some time. However, if you’re not a fan of its third-person perspective then be sure to check out some of the best FPS games around.

For more of the latest Xbox news, check out why Game Pass won’t be getting Visions of Mana after all, as well as which of February’s day-one Xbox Game Pass additions has been hit with a delay.