What you need to know
- Spec Ops: The Line is a legendary third-person shooter originally released in 2012.
- While the game saw middling success at launch, it has remained relevant thanks to its brutal campaign following the horrors and traumas of war.
- Thanks to expiring music licenses, however, Spec Ops: The Line is permanently disappearing from digital storefronts, and is already gone on Steam.
- It's still available on Xbox consoles through the backward compatibility program, though, so act fast if you still want to play this game.
Note: Spec Ops: The Line can and will disappear from the few remaining digital storefronts at any moment, making this your last chance to buy it on Xbox consoles and PC before it's gone forever. You will be able to play the game even after it's delisted if you own it.
Franchises like Call of Duty and Battlefield certainly dominate the shooter genre of video games, but one title has managed to persist in the minds of gamers everywhere despite its middling commercial success at launch. Of course, I'm referring to Spec Ops: The Line, the narrative-driven reboot of a forgotten franchise that has garnered a cult-like following thanks to its gritty campaign. Now, however, it seems that the game is on the verge of disappearing forever from digital storefronts.
It was noted on Jan. 24 by X (Twitter) user @Wario64 that Spec Ops: The Line had seemingly vanished in its entirety from Steam. A day later, it has been revealed via PCGamer that Spec Ops: The Line is indeed being permanently delisted from digital storefronts, meaning that it'll no longer be available to purchase. The news was sudden and unexpected, surprising even its game director, Cory Davis, who wrote on Twitter, "Makes no sense — especially because the themes portrayed in [Spec Ops: The Line] are more relevant now than ever. Why has this happened?"
Now, we have an answer. In a statement given by 2K, the publisher of Spec Ops: The Line, it seems the game is being delisted because digital licenses are expiring and will not be renewed (this is likely related to music featured in the game's soundtrack). However, those who already own the game will still be able to access it in its entirety, according to a 2K representative: "Players who have purchased the game can still download and play the game uninterrupted. 2K would like to thank our community of players who have supported the game, and we look forward to bringing you more offerings from our label throughout this year and beyond."
Unfortunately, luck has run out for many that have yet to add Spec Ops: The Line to their library, as the game was delisted from Steam before any announcement was made.
The game is still available from some digital storefronts thanks to differing delisting processes, but time is very quickly running out to buy Spec Ops: The Line before it disappears completely from digital marketplaces. You can buy Spec Ops: The Line (for now) for $29.99 at Microsoft for Xbox consoles (it's fully backward compatible and supported on Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S). For PC players, you're still in luck, as Spec Ops: The Line is available for just $5.99 at GOG thanks to an 80% discount. Act fast, though, because the game could be delisted at any moment.
An important game that never saw success
Spec Ops: The Line is regularly brought up in discussions across the gaming community despite the fact that it never saw mainstream commercial success. That's thanks to the game's brutal single-player campaign, which sees players live through the harrowing horrors of war. It's a powerful narrative that blurs all sense of morality and explores trauma. The game's long-dead multiplayer dragged Spec Ops: The Line down in reviews, but that didn't stop players from falling in love with the complex story it tries to tell. Is it still one of the best Xbox games? Some may try to argue that it is, but either way it's undoubtedly an important game.
Sadly, 2K opted not to seek renewal of Spec Ops: The Line's licenses (or updating the game across platforms to remove licensed music), likely because the game was a commercial failure. If you're still interested in visiting this legendary third-person shooter, though (and are prepared for a gore-filled campaign that will force you to make difficult decisions), your time is running out to add it to your games library. I wish 2K had announced this move alongside a last-minute sale to allow people time to buy it, but it wasn't meant to be.
Spec Ops: The Line is on the verge of disappearing from digital storefronts forever, and the end could come at any moment. It's a sad day.
Explore Dubai shredded by war and natural disaster, and discover the truth behind the horrific realities within the sand-torn city. Spec Ops: The Line is still talked about today for a reason, but it'll soon be gone from digital storefronts forever.
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Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.