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Grand Theft Auto 4 Steam disappearance explained and it's a familiar culprit

(Image credit: Rockstar)

Update: Grand Theft Auto 4's mysterious disappearance from Steam has been explained, and the culprit revealed: Games For Windows Live rose from the grave to claim another victim.

"Grand Theft Auto 4 was originally created for the Games For Windows Live platform," Rockstar Games said in a statement to US Gamer (opens in new tab). "With Microsoft no longer supporting Games For Windows Live, it is no longer possible to generate the additional keys needed to continue selling the current version of the game. We are looking at other options for distributing GTA 4 for PC and will share more information as soon as we can."

GTA 4 isn't currently available on the Rockstar Games Launcher, the new Rockstar-owned-and-operated digital distribution platform. Assuming the studio is able to work out a GFWL-free solution for Steam, there's a good chance we'll see GTA 4 appear on the Rockstar Games Launcher as well.

Original story: Grand Theft Auto 4 has been pulled from the Steam store.

At the time of writing, there's been no official word from developer Rockstar or Valve on why the game's disappeared from the storefront, but if you head to the Grand Theft Auto 4's Steam page (opens in new tab) you'll notice that the option to buy the open-world shooter has been surreptitiously removed.

As our pals at PC Gamer (opens in new tab) rightfully remind us, GTA Vice City vanished in a similar way from the marketplace back in 2012. The withdrawal was due to a licencing issue with Michael Jackson's Wanna Be Startin' Something, but nowadays we tend to see songs patched out when licences expire, rather than the decidedly more drastic act of having a game yanked from sale completely.

It's possible the game's been made unavailable as it previously connected to Games For Windows Live, or could it have something to do with Rockstar's Game Launcher (opens in new tab), perhaps? Launched back in September 2019, it offers some – but not all – of Rockstar games in a single place, no matter where you bought them from. Early adopters were even encouraged to get involved with a free digital copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas just for downloading. 

Panic not if you've already purchased it, of course; it should still be in your library if and when you fancy it.

In related news, If you've found yourself longing for a sunset drive along the coast in the Grand Theft Auto world, you're in luck, as a new mod for GTA 5 (opens in new tab) lets you hang out in Vice City again. As Alyssa recently explained, "the nostalgia is real, and it's neon". 

Vice Cry: Remastered is a port of Vice Cry (opens in new tab), a popular mod for GTA Vice City that overhauled the game's graphics back in 2015. It looks like this is a fresh update, as a version titled '1.0' dropped on December 20, 2019, a month or so after the official trailer launched. Vice Cry: Remastered runs as DLC, with new models and textures, working traffic lights, custom population groups, car generators, better water mechanics, and 3D neon models - amongst other things.

Looking for more games like GTA (opens in new tab)? We've got you covered...

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.