2K pulls Spec Ops: The Line from digital stores without warning

Spec Ops: The Line, the intense and grim 2012 shooter, will no longer be available on digital storefronts, a 2K spokesperson confirmed in a statement.

The spokesperson told Polygon that the game will no longer be available online “as several partnership licenses related to the game are expiring.” People who currently own the game can continue to play it.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

The news was first spotted by Wario64, who noticed that Spec Ops: The Line had disappeared from digital storefronts like Steam and Fanatical. The store listing doesn’t come up in Steam search, and if you head to the store page, a note says that “Spec Ops: The Line is no longer available on the Steam store.”

Right now, you can only purchase the game digitally through the Xbox Store for the Xbox One and Xbox Series X, and third-party stores like GOG. We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment on whether that listing will remain up going forward.

The game’s director and designer, Cory Davis, posted on X (formerly Twitter) that the move made no sense.

“Makes no sense — especially because the themes portrayed in Spec Ops: The Line are more relevant now than ever,” he posted. “Why has this happened?”

Games being delisted from stores due to licensing agreements is fairly common, especially for older titles. For example, the original Alan Wake was delisted in 2017 due to expired music licenses, but it was able to get reinstated. Remedy Entertainment said on its X account that this was thanks in part to Microsoft partners, who renegotiated the agreements.

Similarly, Spec Ops: The Line featured music from several popular artists, including Alice in Chains and Deep Purple. It even utilized a recording of Jimi Hendrix playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” over the main menu.

Spec Ops: The Line was developed by Yager Development, and was originally released for PlayStation 3, Windows PC, and Xbox 360, and was available through digital storefronts on those platforms. Unfortunately, the news that it won’t be available digitally is a huge blow to the game’s availability. While the critical reception was positive, Spec Ops: The Line didn’t sell well initially but has since become a cult classic in how it subverted the violence players saw in games like Call of Duty at the time. Still, its poor sales meant the Spec Ops franchise didn’t move forward.