None shall stand – Transformers games removed from Steam as Hasbro/Activision deal expires

you can't die

Oh, how it pains me to say this. If you felt you could have waited an eternity to get around to playing Fall of Cybertron, War For Cybertron or Devastation, that trypticon of broadly well-received, Activision-published Transformers third-person shooters, I’ve got bad news.

Here’s a hint: they’ve been removed from Steam, plus all other digital marketplaces – as have subsequent and worse sequels. This is bad comedy.

The issue is that robots in disguise toy-makers Hasbro and Activision couldn’t deal with that right now. For the past decade, the house of Kotick has been publishing Transformers games, most of which were associated with the beryllium baloney of the Michael Bay movies, but a handful of which did their own thing.

By far the most ambitious result of the arrangement was 2015’s animation-styled combo-brawler Transformers: Devastation, developed by no less than Bayonetta and Nier: Automata studio Platinum (though handled by a different arm of the company). That said, High Moon’s 2012 Fall For Cybertron, follow-up to the more forgettable War of Cybertron, was arguably made of sterner stuff overall.

In a mockery of justice, the licensing deal is now terminated – which is why all Activision Transformers games, also including 2014’s uncharismatic bore Rise of the Dark Spark, disappeared from Steam, PSN et al a few weeks back. Hasbro have confirmed to IGN that the point is the deal’s dead and the games died with it, but stopped short of saying what, if any, future for Transformers games there is. With the most recent movie having comparatively struggled at the box office, perhaps their bargaining posture is highly dubious.

This has happened with other licensed Activision games in the past – look to the absence of such heroic nonsense as Deadpool, Spider-Man and Turtles games on Steam, similarly removed due to a lapsed contract. In Deadpool’s case, it did make a reappearance for a while when a contract was renewed, but recently we witnessed its dismemberment once again.

The good news is that, if you already own any of the Transformers games on Steam, they still function. If you never grabbed the (mostly cosmetic) DLC, I fear the wounds are fatal, however – I have the base games but not the DLC, and can’t access store pages for the add-ons. If you never got around to the games in the first place, the only way to light your darkest hour is to pick up a physical copy. All you need is a little money and a lot of luck on eBay.

Frankly though, I’ve got better things to do tonight than play largely forgettable action games that never truly realised either the scale of giant robots or the pleasing engineering of transformation.

With Paramount Pictures currently looking to semi-reboot the movie series, no matter the cost, after last year’s so-bad-it’s-almost-avant-garde Transformers: The Last Knight, maybe Hasbro will offer the universal greeting to either Activision or a different publisher to make more games. Arise, Ubisoft Prime?

35 Comments

  1. Optimaximal says:

    I came for the TF: Movie quote puns, I was satisfied…

  2. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    Yeah, I nabbed all of the above a long time ago, including the eminently fudged Rise of The Dork Spark, which *should* have been a proper sequel and continuation of War and Fall, if Hasbro and Pazzamount hadn’t swerved way at the last second to cash it — sorry, tie it in with one of the Bayformers flicks. (5?). Anyway, I cherish War and Fall; Highmoon knocked them out of the park imho. In fact, that whole re-boot was shaping up very well, I thought, esp. as the Highmoons tied in with the Alex Irvine novels. Best TF’s been since the Unicron Trilogy.

  3. Kefren says:

    It’s like when music is stripped from games due to licensing issues.

    Publishers and devs: just make sure the deal allows continuous use so you don’t have to remove them. The licence expiring should just mean you can no longer make new games using the licence, but existing ones should still be sold, and the same cuts go to the licensor and licensee. It annoys me when (even crappy) games disappear. Many of the games of my youth are gone for good, and the only way I can play them is with illegal copies (C64, Spectrum, Amiga, some PC games), even if I once owned them but the media got corrupted with time. I’m not even sure if even the best C64 tapes would work any more. I guess I’m sad about anything disappearing forever.

    • mike69 says:

      I noticed that Steep has an option in the audio menu to turn off licensed music. I thought that was a really strange addition until I realised its probably so they can permanently turn it off if needed without effecting the rest of the game.

      • Little_Crow says:

        That sounds far too foresighted to me. I think it’s more likely for streamers and youtubers so they don’t get hit with copyright strikes

    • pookie101 says:

      Yeah the tape media will last around 30 years give or take before the data is corrupted as a rule.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    So now AAA Publishers don’t give a f if their games expire and cannot be bought anywhere after TWO years? That is fantastic, I say, fantastic. Great customer support too.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Their argument is likely ‘well, just buy them before we lose the license’.

      What sucks in this case is, unlike the Marvel stuff (which had a notice period and a ‘final sale’ discount) the TF games were just surreptitiously removed, without notice.

  5. Jalan says:

    This happened roughly around the autumn Steam sale. I had email notifications for two of the games going on sale, went to my wishlist to finally purchase them and noticed that they vanished.

    Not really upsetting or surprising, given that they were all Activision titles. Activision couldn’t keep a third-party license to wear trousers at this point.

  6. Axyl says:

    Bah weep grana weep nini bon! :D

  7. pookie101 says:

    Haven’t played it yet but I did pick up the Deadpool game when i heard it was being removed from sale

  8. Dominic Tarason says:

    While the Cybertron games never really clicked for me, I loved Devastation to bits. It’s clearly a lower-budget game than Platinum’s usuals, and the levelling system means that the lower difficulty settings either play out too hard or too easy, but the ‘endgame’ is a joyous festival of cartoon-authentic robots smashing against each other. It feels like playing with a big box of action figures.

    Plus, the soundtrack was fantastic.

  9. thekelvingreen says:

    Trigger warning for the main image please! Too soon. :(

  10. Fersken says:

    This is the one good reason to use key resellers such as G2A in my opinion. I’ve only used it once myself, I bought a key to Prey (the old one from 2006).

    I just checked, there are several Transformer games on G2A.

  11. mattevansc3 says:

    Till all are none.

  12. Megatron says:

    I’ve not been terribly impressed with Activision’s handling of the license. A smattering of terrible movies tie-ins, two better-than-average games from High Moon (trying too hard to provide both multiplayer and singleplayer and short-changing them both), and Devastation, very good but could have been great with a tiny bit more time and scope.

    I’d welcome a new publisher having a go. Having said that, I’m not sure any official releases could ever keep this adult fan happy, though Devastation came closest. Hasbro likes money coming from adults but very rarely does it stoop to give them anything adult-oriented. I can’t see them commissioning the Borderlands of Transformers any time soon, sadly, or even a PLUNKBAT (which really should be a Transformer name). My little Matrix flame for a genuinely great Transformers game will have to continue its long, solo vigil.

  13. fish99 says:

    If the publisher had told everyone this was going to happen a week ago, combined with a nice discount, they’d probably have netted themselves a bunch of sales.

  14. skyturnedred says:

    I’d buy Ubiformers.

  15. Einsammler says:

    Press Middle Mouse Button to Destroy Megatron!

  16. MacTheGeek says:

    Activision never brought the price down to a level worth paying for.

    /shrug

    Oh well. My money didn’t help Bobby Kotick pay off his eleventy-feventh sexual harassment victim. I’m okay with that.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      They.. didn’t? I remember getting War For Cybertron for 5 euros or something (it was a discount when Fall was about to be released). Liked it so much I paid full price for Fall.

  17. Danda says:

    Predictably unexpected. Activision is still evil.

    If you really want any of their licensed games, just grab it during the next Steam sale, even at a 33% discount or something. It’s that, or paying crazy money for a G2A key.

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