Rockstar have confirmed that they need to cut a number of songs from Grand Theft Auto IV due to music licenses expiring, though they will shuffle in new songs to replace at least some. Probably expect a new patch to cut the old and whack in the new. The Russian pop station Vladivostok FM will take the brunt of the cuts, which will also affect GTA 4's Episodes From Liberty City standalone expansions. Rockstar have needed to do this with GTA before and it's still weird to cut up old copies of games, but at least this time they're taping it back together afterwards.
Kotaku UK first reported a rumour of impending cuts on Monday, and Rockstar yesterday confirmed it's true. Kotaku UK's source said the cuts would happen on April 26th, though Rockstar have not confirmed that detail and don't say when the change will happen. Rockstar explained:
"Due to music licensing restrictions, we are required to remove certain songs from the in-game soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto IV and its Episodes, in particular a large portion of the Russian pop station, Vladivostok FM. However we are replacing some of those songs with a new set of songs on that station. We will update our customer support website with new information as soon as it is available."
They don't say exactly which songs are being removed. I always enjoyed cruising to Glukoza's Schweine so I hope that's safe. Songs can be key parts of how we remember games, setting a tone and tied to particular experiences, so it's always a shame to have that futzed with.
While Rockstar are patching the game, maybe they could consider removing Games For Windows - Live, Microsoft's loathsome abandoned DRM. The wonderful PCGamingWiki can help you get it running if you want one last cruise with the original radio.
When expiring licenses made Rockstar remove some songs from GTA: Vice City in 2012, on Steam they left the old version available for people who already had it, then created a new version without the expired songs for new purchasers. That was a nice solution. However, when licenses expired in GTA: San Andreas in 2014, they just removed the affected songs for everyone. I would be unsurprised if Rockstar just cut the expiring songs from all copies again, but at least they are adding some replacements this time.
Disclosure: I know several folks who worked on GTA IV, including my own flatmate (and former RPS columnist) Cara Ellison. I know she also voiced some random crowd lines but I've never heard her. She's out there, somewhere, in Liberty City.