Grand Theft Auto 4 was recently delisted from Steam. Players who owned the game could still download and play it, but there was no way to purchase the title digitally, and we didn't know why.
Music licensing was the main suspect, as it has caused several GTA games to get temporarily delisted in the past. The good news is that GTA 4 is coming back - the bad news is that multiplayer isn't.
As it turns out, Games For Windows Live's shutdown was what caused the game to go under, instead of music licensing, which meant that solving the issue would be more difficult than simply patching out a couple of songs. GFWL isn't something any gamer will miss, but unfortunately, the service was backed into titles so deep that losing it would cause myriad problems.
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Luckily Rockstar came up with a solution, albeit one that requires sacrifices. The solution is to permanently cease selling standalone versions of GTA 4 and the expansions, Episodes from Liberty City. Instead, Rockstar will continue selling GTA 4: Complete Edition "wherever it is currently digitally available" with GFWL gutted entirely. This has the side effect of multiplayer also going down the drain along with the defunct service.
The game is also going to be sold on the Rockstar Games Launcher from now on.
While music licensing wasn't the main culprit, some music licenses *have* lapsed coincidentally, so the newly available version of GTA 4: Complete Edition will be missing radio stations RamJam FM, Self-Actualization FM, and Vice City FM.
This update is taking place today. All digital versions of the game will be automatically switched to Complete Edition the next time the client has access to the internet. Physical copies need to be re-activated using the game key, while any copy activated through GFWL will need to be reactivated through the Rockstar SocialClub, which needs to be created outside the game.
While the shut down of GTA 4's multiplayer mode is a major loss, it was bound to happen due to GFWL and the tireless march of time. A 12 year old game, GTA 4 shows its age while remaining a loved classic. As for multiplayer - there are always mods for that.