On May 18, 2010, Alan Wake was released on Xbox 360 and PC. On May 15, 2017, the game will disappear. Possibly for good.
This strange and unexpected news came from the studio behind the game, Remedy Entertainment. They revealed that due to music licensing issues, Alan Wake will soon no longer be available to buy on Steam, GOG, and Xbox Live. For fans that already own the game in digital form, they’ll be able to continue playing without any problems, but for anyone who has ever wanted to play the well-received horror adventure, they’re almost out of time to make that nightmare a reality.
The problem stems from the songs in question being licensed from huge artists like David Bowie and Depeche Mode. Those deals don’t come cheap, and in this case, they apparently only lasted seven years. The developer said they are trying to work out a solution for the music issues, but there’s no guarantee that it’s going to happen. Simply, if you want to make sure you ever experience the game. It may be now or never.
However, this only applies to Alan Wake, as 2012’s spin-off Alan Wake’s American Nightmare will continue to be available for purchase on a variety of platforms.
In response to Alan Wake about to leave Steam, the game is on sale for $2.99 for 48 hours. The developers have labeled it the “sunset sale.”
— Remedy Entertainment (@remedygames) May 12, 2017
Some gamers have taken to Twitter to ask why the songs can’t just be removed and replaced with something else. As explained by The Verge, apparently it’s not that easy.
“Remedy commented that it can’t simply remove the music from the game due to a variety of engineering and resource issues. The company is in talks to try and renew the licenses, although they aren’t making any promises as to when, or even if, that will actually happen.”
That “if” part is the most troublesome for anyone who hasn’t yet played Alan Wake. Perhaps more troubling is that gamers have to wonder if this is a further sign of things to come in the industry. Because unfortunately, Alan Wake isn’t the only game that has been dealing with this problem.
— One Angry Gamer (@OneAngryGamerHD) May 12, 2017
When Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas made the jump to Steam 10 years after its console debut, it received 1080p support, but it also lost 17 songs in the process due to licensing issues. Then there was the case of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, which was a classic PlayStation game and later re-released without some of the memorable songs it initially contained.
Though the music losses may appear small to some, they do change the core of the game that fans grew to know and love from their past. After all, imagine big films from 2010 like Toy Story 3, Inception, or Black Swan losing the rights to a few songs off their soundtracks. Somehow, it appears that the video game medium is where these issues happen the most often.
Thank you for being so understanding and showing the love. Much appreciated from all of us at Remedy.
— Remedy Entertainment (@remedygames) May 13, 2017
At the moment, physical copies of Alan Wake are still relatively inexpensive (used copies are going for about $22.00 on Amazon as of May 13), but you can expect that price point to go up the longer the game is away from the digital realm. If it never returns to Steam at all, it will likely end up as a collector’s item.
It’s not quite clear why the developer only had a seven-year music deal for Alan Wake in the first place. Unless they believed the world was going to end by 2017 (or more likely, didn’t correctly predict that digital games would become as prevalent as they have), then at some point, there was going to be an issue. Hopefully, other developers will learn from this lesson, and gamers won’t have to worry about classics suddenly disappearing without much notice.
[Featured Image by Remedy Entertainment]