After Grand Theft Auto IV was abruptly removed from sale on Steam back in January, the game is set to make a comeback next month on 19th March with the release of Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete Edition. This will be a free update for owners of GTA IV or GTA: Episodes from Liberty City, giving all users all of the game’s content. It will also see the game available on the Rockstar Games Launcher for the first time.
The reason for the game’s disappearance was the end of support for Microsoft’s Games for Windows Live platform. The ending of this programme (which was deeply rooted in Windows Vista) meant that Rockstar could no longer generate keys needed to keep selling the game. Though they really should have done something sooner, this forced Rockstar’s hand to remove the game from sale while finding a way to remove GFWL.
Cutting GFWL from the game will have been a difficult task, given the way that the DRM system hooked into the games that used it. Thankfully player saves will carry forward to the new release of the game, but GFWL was used for the multiplayer and leaderboards and instead of retrofitting new multiplayer functionality into the game, they’re simply going to take the servers offline after 19th March.
Additionally, the following radio stations RamJam FM, Self-Actualization FM, and Vice City FM are being temporarily removed, presumably as Rockstar try to relicense the music.
Rockstar have outlined how you can update the game, depending on how you currently own it:
Players who have previously installed and played Grand Theft Auto IV or Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City will be able to update their copy to Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete Edition through the following means:
Depending on the game, players on Steam will need to install or update their current game:
- Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City will be removed and replaced with GTAIV: Complete Edition in the launcher library. Update file size is expected to be approximately 22GB
- Grand Theft Auto IV owners will download content from Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City and their game will update to GTAIV: Complete Edition. Update file size is expected to be approximately 6GB
- Games not previously activated using Games for Windows Live will be able to use the Key on the back of the game manual to activate and update to Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete Edition
Games for Windows Live Digital Store Purchases
- Games previously activated using Games for Windows Live will require players to create and/or link their Social Club accounts in replacement of Games for Windows Live to update to Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete Edition
Good riddance, GFWL.