Alan Wake killed by Roy Orbison

Remedy Entertainment’s third-person spooker Alan Wake [official site] will receive a 90% discount on Steam this weekend, right before it gets pulled from stores – possibly forever. The Max Payne creators says Alan Wake has to go because its music licenses are expiring. Pop songs play at the end of each chapter, see, which means that Alan Wake was killed by a conspiracy including Roy Orbison, Nick Cave (I’ve always said those mates of his are some real bad seeds!), and David Bowie. If you already own Alan Wake or buy now, you will still get to download and play after it’s pulled from sale.

Alan Wake, to refresh your memory, is a third-person shooter about an author who battles shadowy monsters after his wife disappears during a holiday to a small town in the Pacific Northwest. To bump off baddies, Al first needs to burn off their shadows with his torch or the game’s wonderful smart bomb of a flare gun. Continuing Remedy’s penchant for pastiche, it’s a bit Stephen King and a touch Twin Peaks as Big Al finds himself caught up in mysteries surrounding a book he can’t remember writing. It hit Xbox 360 in 2010 then PC in 2012. It’s not a good shooter or a great story but it does have some nice ideas and a lot of forest and water.

I didn’t finish Alan Wake when I played it on Xbox but for £2.30-ish, yeah, go on.

“We are looking into relicensing the music for Alan Wake, but have no timeframe for this,” Remedy said in a Q&A today.

So, faced with an uncertain future, they’re throwing Alan Wake’s wake. Alan Wake, its DLC bits, and its semi-sequel Alan Wake’s American Nightmare will all have 90% discounts on Steam. The sale will start at 6pm on Saturday and end on Monday. After that, it’ll vanish into the mists like Brigadoon.

American Nightmare will still be sold after this, mind, as its licenses are sound. “Remedy negotiated the music licensing for Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, we did not negotiate the licensing for Alan Wake’s licensed music,” Remedy explained.

Alan Wake is also sold on GOG, and will vanish from there too, but Remedy say they don’t have any control over discounts (or the lack thereof) on GOG.

Update: GOG got in touch to tell us that yup, they’ll discount Alan Wake this weekend too. If you want a DRM-free version, voila!

One might draw a connection between Alan Wake’s David Lynch influences, Roy Orbison killing Alan Wake, Laura Palmer being found dead, wrapped in plastic, and Ulli’s Roy Orbison In Clingfilm stories but to write it an artful way would be showing off and distract from the Roy Orbison in clingfilm stories, and all I really want is for you to read those Roy Orbison clingfilm stories, so we’ll skip that and you’ll go read them, okay? Ok.


  1. Spuzzell says:

    (I’ve always said those mates of his are some real bad seeds!)

    I want you to sit there and think about what you just did.

  2. lupinewolf says:

    Screw the haters, I love Alan Wake

    • kalzekdor says:

      Yeah, Alan Wake was a great game. I mean, none of the individual components was particularly exceptional. The combat was decent, the story interesting but overreliant on the primary gimmick, the various puzzles well-executed but not really innovative. Except everything meshes together perfectly to make an extremely memorable and entertaining whole. The atmosphere lends tension to combat that would otherwise be bland, the various hidden manuscript pages aren’t just pointless collectibles (though those do exist…) but actually are integral to the story. Remedy did a great job with the game.

      The story is also incredibly meta, which amuses me.

    • Vandelay says:

      Right there with you. Weirdly enough, I happen to be playing it at the moment, after having stumbled upon an old story about a never created sequel that had a proof of concept video put together made me want to go back. I had forgotten how solid the game really was. The combat could be a tad repetitive at times, but when it clicks it is weirdly exhilarating.

      Story is hokey, but a lot of fun. Wake’s narration can be a little dry with the delivery, which does let it down, but the cast of characters are entertaining, even if they do have a couple too many that are lifted from Twin Peaks. And Remedy’s style with delivery is always enjoyable.

      The only real downside I am finding is that the levels are too reliant on wondering around woodlands. The environments are quite monotonous. They are reasonable open for a very linear game though, so there are quite a few nooks and crannies to explore.

      I also have American Nightmare, which I never actually played before, as well as the DLC (I believe I played the first, but didn’t try the second.)

    • April March says:

      It’s a good one. Not great. Too smart for its own sake, I think. It had a lot of interesting ideas but wasn’t sure of what to do with them, narratively or mechanically. I was vaguely disappointed because I was expecting a narrative tour the force, but it was just a fun game.

  3. falcon2001 says:

    But was it Roy Orbison completely wrapped up in cling film?

    I’ll see myself out.

  4. Hoot says:

    Any game that I actually finish was worth the money and the time. I finished Alan Wake and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Maybe it’s because I only paid £4 for it and had zero expectations, or maybe it’s just a canny game.

    EDIT :- “canny” in the North East of England can mean “pretty good”, among other things.

  5. Halk says:

    Always this license bull*. And right after Valve crippled gifts too…

    • Jalan says:

      Valve, buckling under pressure and being jerks cutting off a source of income for gougers. Guess those hard copies of the game and Quantum Break floating around with redemption codes are going to be the only way to turn a jacked-up profit from this loss.

    • Zach Fett says:

      Yep, was thinking, “oh I’ll pick up a copy or two and throw ’em in my inventory in case any of my friends don’t have it and want it one day.”

      Nope. Whatever Valve, you’re just losing out on potential sales. I used to do the above often with tons of games when they were discounted heavily or about to be removed from the store.

  6. sillythings says:

    With this kind of thing happening for other games, too (I don’t really remember which ones), I genuinely wonder why developers even bother with licensed music? Is it really worth such an apparently complicated and lengthy (and probably expensive) process?

    • Sin Vega says:

      Music rights have always been absurdly complicated, especially since the internet took over everything – many, many works are unavailable not because someone refuses to share their work, but because the agreements made at the time it was created simply can’t be applied to modern technologies or laws or territories.

      You might just as well ask the same thing about TV or films. If anything, I’d wager that game publishers are generally a little more forward thinking about such matters, simply because digital distribution is pretty much the default now.

      • sillythings says:

        Okay, that makes sense. I hadn’t considered the technological advances being part of it.

        And that’s entirely fair. I guess I just haven’t read any news about any certain movie or TV show not being sold anymore because of music licensing. Then again, I also don’t follow any news sites that would mention something like that.

        • Sin Vega says:

          It doesn’t tend to get publicised as it mostly happens behind the scenes and is quite mundane and undramatic a lot of the time. I only know much about it because I used to work in an archive stuffed with tv and film contracts.

          • Sin Vega says:

            Bah, editing countdown timer lied to me.

            I meant to add: when a contributor to a work refuses permission (or simply doesn’t agree to the terms) to redistribute, it’s generally unwise and even immoral to badmouth them for it. It can affect renogotiation of a contract, and moreover, they’re excercising a legal right that often serves to protect them from being ripped off.

            Sometimes they refuse because the song or script or character is relevant to a new project or deal they’re working on. Sometimes they feel they deserve a better deal than they got last time. Sometimes they’ve come to hate the work and no longer want it shared. Sometimes they sold the rights on to a corporate vampire whose only joy in life comes from being a miserable stone-squeezing bastard. Sometimes their relationship with another party to the agreement has soured and they want nothing to do with them (it may sound selfish to deny your audience because of this, but you rarely know what went on between people behind the scenes. We’ve all met people that no amount of money or fame could persuade us to work with again, right?).

            I’m banging on a bit now because I kind of miss that job.

          • Sin Vega says:

            Also also also: sometimes it’s just that a date on a contract was reached, and one or multiple parts of the agreement just never got round to making a new one. Everyone is busy and most businesses are understaffed, and at some point you’re involving musicians or writers who are notorious procrastinators, etc, etc.

          • sosolidshoe says:

            “Sometimes they’ve come to hate the work and no longer want it shared.”

            This one really grinds my bloody gears. Intellectual property laws of some form remain sadly necessary while we’re stuck with a capitalist economic paradigm since creative labour needs to have monetary value despite the fact that digital “goods” have moved beyond scarcity, but as a basic concept absent that necessity IP is farcical.

            The moment you share information you created you lose any right -again, we’re talking philosophically here, put aside modern economics- to control the spread of that idea or how it’s used, it becomes part of the public domain(something IP law used to recognise as a factor and attempted to balance against the need for a creator to earn a crust, before corporate meddling), part of culture. It influences other creative works just as yours was influenced by those before you(human creativity being a fundamentally iterative process despite the common misconception of the Eureka moment and titanic individual geniuses driving progress). In examples like this, it actually becomes part of another creative work, inseperable from it.

            So aye; in the current economic context I can understand and accept many reasons why an artist(or, more likely given the law as-is, some corporate juggernaught that owns the rights to a work) might not give or even might withdraw consent to have their work used, but chucking a hissy because they don’t like it anymore and demanding other artists modify or withdraw their own works is not and never will be one of them.

          • Sin Vega says:

            It’s easy to say that once you’ve made something it’s no longer yours, but when you actually do it, and see something out in the world with your name on that makes you feel embarassed or even ashamed, it’s not always that simple. And a bad work can actually do a disservice to your other work – how many times have you read a book or listened to a song that put you off its creator?

            Extreme example, but what if, in a period during your youth that you’re deeply ashamed of, you wrote a popular piece of nazi propaganda?

            Sometimes it’s a hissy fit, sure. But that’s one reason why good copyright laws (and there have been such a thing) allow for things to be shared after the creator’s death, or a long enough period that any other considerations are a moot point.

            I won’t presume to know what work you do, but imagine the worst day you ever put in, where you did nothing but screw up or even act like an arsehole for whatever reason. Then imagine that day being available for anyone in the world to watch and judge you by. It’s a little bit like that.

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          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          The TV series Freaks and Geeks took about 10 years before being released on DVD because they had to renegotiate all of their music rights.

          The band De La Soul have none of their back catalogue available for digital download or streaming. This is because the sample rights they acquired were only good for physical releases (cassette, CD, vinyl.) Which is a damn shame because that means an entire generation who would really like their music probably won’t ever get to hear it. Their last album was Kickstarted and raised enough money that they recorded something like 20,000 hours worth of jam sessions so they would not run into this problem in the future.

        • doodler says:

          Some of the more popular instances that this has affected that I know of are the Drew Carey Show which is why you won’t find it on any streaming service, has a lot of songs and musical numbers that the licenses don’t apply to. You’ll also notice it if you’re a big fan of Scrubs as they just replaced songs with different ones for the streaming versions. A quick google will show you all the places that happened and it really changes the tone sometimes.

    • Kristen.maxwell says:

      Oh man, without its licensed music, Alan Wake would be so much less than it is. So in this case at least, I think it was highly worth it.

      But of course I’m such a music snob that I only actually got into this game because I found out it featured Poe’s “Haunted.” So I’m not exactly unbiased…

  7. Kristen.maxwell says:

    Can I take this opportunity to mention that Alan Wake’s DLC is fucking GREAT? Those two chapters show the game that Remedy wanted to make, unlike the deeply flawed compromise that it seemed like they were forced to release. I only wish that I could recommend ONLY playing the DLC, but sadly it wouldn’t work without having the narrative and character groundwork that’s laid out in the main campaign.

    Ah, Barry…

    • sillythings says:

      Agreed. I loved the main game, but the DLC was even better. Strangely/Sadly enough, American Nightmare left me pretty much entirely cold when I finally gave it a try last year.
      I really hope the sequel is eventually going to happen.

  8. Sic says:

    Does this mean that the game, including the music, will be available for download/play after it disappears from the store?

    Isn’t that a bit strange?

    In other similar cases (like GTAIV, I believe), some of the tracks simply disappeared from the game.

    Is it a case of different types of licensing agreements?

    • welverin says:

      It will be available to download and play after it’s removed from sale.

      As for why they don’t just remove the songs, they may just feel they’re too integral to the game, or it’s because they’re working on a new licensing agreement and want to see where that goes first.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      Rockstar did that with San Andreas because they wanted to keep selling the game but didn’t want to sell two versions. They didn’t do it with Vice City, they made a different version of the game for new sales.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Remember that they can always do that retroactively to the Steam version, regardless of current statements or intentions.

      This is a very strong case to lean GOG here, since once you’ve downloaded it and stashed it away safely in a corner of your drive, no machinations of publishers can then remove it from you.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Oh, although unfortunately, you will pay for the privilege since while GOG have matched the 90% discount, they haven’t matched that Steam have a bundle version that basically makes American Nightmare free. GOG also seem to lack the collector’s edition extras, should you want the developers talking over it.

  9. Doomlord says:

    Wasn’t a very good game anyway. Plodding, boring. Felt like it was meant for consoles and it probably was. Did this company ever make any good games? (And no, Max Payne doesn’t count either, that was ass too.)

    • pentraksil says:

      You can cut yourself on all that edge, you know?

      • Doomlord says:

        Yes, because someone has a different opinion than yours, they must surely be trying to be “edgy!” #eyeroll

        • ColonelFlanders says:

          It wasn’t the opinion, it was the smug, dismissive attitude that accompanied it.

        • Ralsto says:

          It’s more that you’re wearing your “consoles are for peasants” attitude on your sleeve as if it’s something that you should be proud of, despite the fact that the idea that good games can’t exist on consoles is 100% objectively dimwitted.

        • jeremyalexander says:

          You seem to be confused as to how this whole free speech thing works, so let me help. The original poster is free to make a comment about how he dislikes these games, and the rest of us are free to respond in any way we feel appropriate. He is free to think Max Payne is a bad series and we are free to never stop laughing at how stupid that statement is. Hopefully in the future this will help everyone by not wasting space and time stating the absolute obvious as though it is mind bending insight. Of course you are free to post whatever you want to post as well, I would simply suggest in the future you ask yourself why first. I’m glad I can contribute by responding to your “comment”. Not all heroes wear capes.

        • dethtoll says:

          You are about as interesting as an Eagles cover band.

    • Unclepauly says:

      I’m going to take a wager and guess that you hate almost everything. One thing I don’t think you hate is spreading that hate. I SAID GOOD DAY SIR

      • Doomlord says:

        Sadly, you’d be incorrect. I guess that’s why people warn you not to ASSume anything. Yep.

        • Zach Fett says:

          HE SAID GOOD DAY, SIR.

          • cockpisspartridge says:

            This is now driving me crazy. Which cartoon used a line similar to this? Was it robot chicken star wars?

          • Zach Fett says:

            Well, dunno about a cartoon with the line, but I’m pretty sure it’s originally from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

            Fez in That 70’s Show often said a similar line. I think Simpsons referenced the line once or twice. Those are just off the top of my head.

    • jeremyalexander says:

      I would be curious to see you expand on the idea that the Max Payne series was “ass”. While 3 didn’t hit the strides of the earlier games, I would pretty easily argue that the first 2 Max Payne games are some of the best and most atmospheric shooters ever made. Certainly 2 of the best in terms of shooting mechanics as well.

    • Howl says:

      It had so much potential. The opening 15 minutes promised a lot, so it was a huge disappointment when it deteriorated into a repetitive corridor shooter with bad shooty mechanics. I was expecting a Twin Peaks style, character-driven mystery. It’s up there with The Division for games that wasted an amazing setting.

  10. RichUncleSkeleton says:

    So…. just remove the offending tracks from the game instead? I can’t possibly imagine that hearing a Roy Orbison song at the end of a chapter is an integral part of the experience.

    • Dorga says:

      You are so wrong.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      That’s what I don’t get. I mean, surely this is more work. Pick some ambient music from elsewhere in the game and paste it in there instead.
      This is why you don’t sign away the rights to your creations to publishers. They don’t care about your work and will slice your throat to save a dime.

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      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Roy Orbison is integral to enjoying life.

  11. Darth Gangrel says:

    I got it all in a Humble Bundle for a dollar, years ago. Of course, I’ve never been close to installing it, let alone play it, but that almost goes without saying when getting things from bundle sites.

  12. Zaxwerks says:

    Got to “love” the weird world of copyright… Roy Orbison died 29 years ago but people are still making money off him. Great if it worked in other professions… my dad helped build this bus so 5p from every ticket sold to everyone that rides it must be paid to him or his descendants for the next 75 years?

    I suppose they could strip the audio out and replace it with something copyright free with the same general feel. I know the BBC have done this before when they have released DVDs where the original airing used copyrighted songs.

    • vorador says:

      Thank Disney for that. They keep lobbying to make sure Mickey Mouse copyrights are valid, even after everybody related are long dead and buried.

      • GenialityOfEvil says:

        DC Comics too. Batman and Superman should have entered public domain by now, but they lobbied Congress to push it back to 2021.

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          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          Which I don’t think is a completely ridiculous request. Those laws were originally made at a time when companies didn’t rely so heavily on intellectual property. Telling DC to give up Batman would basically be the same as ordering the company to shut down.

          • Kolbex says:

            That would be fine.

          • GenialityOfEvil says:

            Public domain doesn’t mean they can’t make money off of it, it just means they wouldn’t have exclusive rights to it. Should we still be paying royalties to Edison for the lightbulb?

          • Fenaer says:

            I tend to agree. I think there is should sometimes be a distinction draw between copyrights on inventions and ideas, and literary characters like Batman/Superman.

          • Jason Moyer says:

            Putting Batman in the public domain would force DC to innovate or die, which was one of the nice side effects of IP law as originally designed.

          • pepperfez says:

            Not even side effects, intended effects! The US Constitution’s grant of copyright authority is supposed “[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts,” not to enrich random corporations in perpetuity.

  13. vorador says:

    They could always replace the songs for original works, and release a new Remastered version or something.

    • Jalan says:

      Yeah, this is a developer who bypassed releasing a proper sequel to Alan Wake and released Quantum Break instead. Somehow the idea of them releasing a “remaster” of a game not in need of one just to compensate for them not being involved in the licensing of music negotiations seems absurd.

      Added to that, Remedy already stated through Twitter that simply replacing or removing the music is not as simple an effort which a staggering amount of people seem to think it is and that they don’t have the resources to devote to such a process.

      • vorador says:

        Well, this is the age of remakes, where barely five year old games are getting “remasters” and ports left and right.

        So while Remedy doesn’t have an history of doing it, i wouldn’t put past them.

      • Werthead says:

        They wanted very much to release a second Alan Wake, but Microsoft overruled them and wanted a new game as a launch title for the XB1, so they made Quantum Break instead.

        I think the sales for Alan Wake were very much in the “kind of justifying a sequel but not really” bracket. It did all right but wasn’t a slam dunk.

  14. Super Rostropovich 64 says:

    I bleeding knew it Roy would come back from the dead to bite their arse the moment I heard him in the game.

  15. Booker says:

    Won’t they just eventually release “a patch” which will simply remove all the music? I mean that’s what usually happens with other games. It’s the curse of digital only, because they can alter it at any point.
    If that happens, it will be especially annoying for people who buy it now, because they aren’t getting it to get a cut version or anything.

    • skyturnedred says:

      Remedy said they’re looking into relicensing the music.

  16. jeremyalexander says:

    It’s simple, in the future, companies should tell owners of these songs that there are no time limits on the use of the songs in these games. Good games will make money with or without licensed music, while the music studio industry is on a long slow ride to irrelevance. The music industry needs the licensing money far more than the games need the music, so try playing a little hardball.

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    Ninja Dodo says:

    I haven’t even played this game and this makes me angry on principle. Modern copyright law is such bullshit. The fact that a piece of digital culture will no longer be available because some stupid license expired is a crime against art and history.

  18. batraz says:

    I’m going back someday, come what may, on blue bayou..

  19. unraveler says:

    So I guess Pirating will be the only option in the future?

  20. bill says:

    I know the answer is “dumb contracts/rules” but I really don’t understand why this keeps happening.

    If you license a song / car / thing to use it in your work, that license should apply to that work forever.
    The work now exists as a whole, it isn’t being changed and new works aren’t being created, so new/updated licenses shouldn’t be required.

  21. Catterbatter says:

    The real victim here is Energizer.

  22. Neurotic says:

    Alan Wake, the game they took about 30 flippin’ years to make.