Games for Windows is something you might have heard of if you’re fairly new to PC gaming, and it’s easy to forget such a pox. The irritating DRM and content distribution platform that is Microsoft’s Games For Windows Live platform was launched in 2009, quickly becoming a foil for many PC gamers. Grand Theft Auto 4 was launched the year before the service debuted in 2008, and Microsoft ported the popular open-world criminal sim to the service.
Originally, Games For Windows Live was just a means for Microsoft to attain tighter control over the PC gaming space by controlling key redemption for PC games, as well as managing early forms of DRM and other systems. The Live service also introduced one of the first official instance of cross-platform play, pitting Xbox 360 and PC gamers against each other in some games. Microsoft later canned the service in 2014. The closure came after Steam and DRM-free services had largely made it irrelevant in some ways, and the increasing need for other console makers to have their own digital services finished it off.
Games being pulled from sale online isn’t a new phenomenon, as games are pulled for any number of reasons. Usually though, removals happen over licensing issues or studio closures. DRM and software failures like this are very uncommon. Some doubted this was the core cause at first, but Rockstar has released a statement confirming the problem, and will be working on a solution.
“Grand Theft Auto was originally created for the Games For Windows Live platform,” Rockstar told Polygon. “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.”
Grand Theft Auto 4 is a popular sequel for the incredibly successful and beloved franchise will no doubt bounce back from this, it may just take a few weeks for Rockstar to work out a solution with the various retail outlets selling the game.