PSA: Digital Games Disappear
Photo: Screenshot from Stubbs the Zombie
Written By: Elijah Moon Blackwell
With the 2018 Steam Summer Sale just around the corner (and the GOG sale happening right now) I started to get my lists together. Lists of recommendations for friends, my personal wish list, and a list to see if the deals are in fact deals.
One of my friends asked about classic racing games on Steam. I shot to the catalog and began to make a little guide for them. As a basis I always start with my own library.
While scrolling I remember one of the best street racing games, Midnight Club II. I put it on the list, I click on store page so see how much it costs without any discounts applied. There was no price and no add to cart button. While the page is still hosted on Steam, there is no way to buy to game.
This troubled me. I knew games disappeared from the Steam store if a company went out of business or when publishing rights are in question. A major example is Stubbs the Zombie by Wideload and Aspyr. I have it on disc but I never got the Steam version. That game is still surrounded in legal issues and we may never see a digital release again. One day we may dig deep into what those issues are, but for now just understand that games do indeed get removed.
However, I didn’t realize how common it actually is. On top of this, Midnight Club II was produced by Rockstar, which is still alive and well today. Truth be told, it is probably some licensing issues with car brands and music, but it still sucks that now you cannot get it digitally.
There have been cases of games coming back after being previously removed. Quake 4 is an example. Anytime a company renews a license, they typically bring back the game.
This isn’t unique to Steam; GOG also experiences it’s fair share of removals. Bohemia Interactive took all their games to Steam and removed them from GOG.
In some scenarios, there is no CD-ROM backup. Windborne, a game that I backed on Kickstarter, is off the Steam store with no CD-ROMs in circulation. That game will die when the Steam accounts that own it do.
MMOs or multiplayer only games will be removed from the store if the servers are no longer kept open. This happens if there aren’t enough players to keep the game alive and bring the server hosts enough revenue to keep said servers open.
Lastly, the game might just suck so much that it will be removed. Digital Homicide was a developer that made games that copy and pasted pre-made assets from the Unity Game Engine marketplace. All their games were removed.
The point: Digital games can and will disappear.
This article is meant to be a PSA and less of an examination of why this phenomena occurs. Be wary that games could be removed for purchase, but if you get it in time you keep it for good, no matter how many legal issues comes its way.
So, here at CD-ROM Fossil we may even have some digital gems that are slowly fading away.
In my Steam library alone, here is the games not available on the digital market place as of writing this:
-Uncharted Waters Online: Episode Atlantis
-Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
-Tiger Knight: Empire War
-Majesty Gold HD
-East India Company Gold
-Pirates of Black Cove Gold
-8-Bit Armies: Arena
-Balls of Steel
-Attrition: Nuclear Domination
-Ben 10 Game Generator 5D
-Call of Juarez: the Cartel
-Disney Infinity 2.0
-Duke Nukem 2
-Duke Nukem 3D
-Duke Nukem Manhattan Project
-Dungeons of Kragmor
-Midnight Club II
-No Time to Explain
-Operation Global Shield
-Ravaged Zombie Apocalypse
-Section 8: Prejudice
-Starship Nova Strike
-the Dead Linger
-the Slaughtering Grounds
-the Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
-Virtua Tennis 4
-Wyatt Derp 2: Peacekeeper
-XField Paintball 3
-RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum
-Infestation: Survivor Stories Classic
-Rip 1, 2, 3
-Tropico 2: Pirate Cove
-Monuments of Mars
-War of the Roses
-Stronghold Crusader Extreme HD
-Out of the Park Baseball
Digital games can also disappear and be forgotten. Keep that in mind during sales and make sure you get the games you most definitely want.