The latest Grand Theft Auto IV update took away, rather than added to the game as it approaches its 10th anniversary, as a number of songs, including several well-known classic rock and alternative songs, were removed from the in-game radio stations due to expiring song licenses.
According to a report from Polygon, this week’s GTA IV update resulted in “drastic changes” to the game’s soundtrack, as licenses for several songs reached their respective expiry dates. While the biggest casualty was the game’s Russian and Ukrainian music station, Vladivostok FM, classic rock fans also won’t get to hear some of their favorites from the 1970s and early ’80s that were once included in the title, including “Fascination” by David Bowie, “Evil Woman” by Electric Light Orchestra, “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks, and “Heaven and Hell” by Black Sabbath. The far more recent “1979,” from the Smashing Pumpkins’ 1995 album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, was also removed from GTA IV’s classic rock station, Liberty Rock.
Songs from the Episodes from Liberty City expansion packs were also affected by the GTA IV update, with classic rock once again taking a huge hit – “Five to One” by the Doors, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Touch Too Much” by AC/DC, and “Jane” by Jefferson Starship were all pulled from Liberty Rock Radio on The Lost and Damned.
As a consolation for fans of Vladivostok FM on GTA IV, 11 Russian and Ukranian songs were added to the game’s soundtrack, replacing the 12 tracks that were removed. At the moment, no replacement songs have been introduced to take the place of the other tunes that were pulled from the soundtrack.
As Polygon noted, Rockstar Games’ removal of the songs with expiring licenses was not unprecedented, as several other game makers have pulled off similar moves in recent years. However, some of the songs pulled from the GTA IV soundtrack played an integral role in the game’s storyline, including Russian singer Glukoza’s “Schweine,” which was the song played when main character Niko Bellic encountered his cousin Roman for the first time in the game.
Given the massive changes to the GTA IV soundtrack, Kotaku suggested that gamers could switch to offline mode on Steam, PS3, or Xbox 360 to prevent the game from being updated in the meantime. As another alternative, Rockstar Games also has a list of instructions for the user radio station Independence FM, where players can use their own sound files and listen to their favorite songs while playing the game, provided the songs do not have any digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.
A complete list of the songs removed and added on the new GTA IV update can be found in this Reddit post.