After disabling the option to buy Grand Theft Auto IV in January, Rockstar now say 2008's open-world murder simulator will return to sale in March with a few changes. Microsoft's awful Games For Windows Live technogubbins is being removed because it caused the trouble in the first place, and that's great news. It seems some folks will also receive the expansions or base game for free too. Unfortunately, Rockstar are also removing GTA IV's multiplayer mode and will temporarily disable several radio stations. A mixed crimebag.
Rockstar now say on the Steam page that Grand Theft Auto IV will again be available to buy from March 19th. At that point, the original game and its standalone expansions, Episodes From Liberty City, will only be available in the one Complete Edition. GTA IV on Steam will be upgraded to the Complete Edition and download the EFLC content. EFLC, on the other hand, will be outright removed from owners' Steam libraries and replaced with the Complete Edition so they'll need to download the lot. But basically it seems that if you own either, congrats, you'll come to own both. There will be other changes.
Good news: Games For Windows Live will be gone. This awful antique system is from a dark time when Microsoft tried to muscle back into PC gaming, and caused endless problems and frustrations. When Rockstar pulled Grand Theft Auto IV from sale on Steam, they explained it was because they could no longer generate GFWL keys for new players. Seeing as the game's authentication and social stuff relied upon GFWL, that was a real problem.
Bad news: Rockstar are removing GTA IV's multiplayer mode. It's certainly not popular these days, but that's still an option being removed. Booo. Leaderboards are going too, which are a feature I honestly did not know it had so okay sure?
Concerning news: the RamJam FM, Self-Actualization FM, and Vice City FM from EFLC "will be temporarily unavailable" after the changeover. Rockstar say it's temporary but it is hard to trust the songs will return when they do have a history of removing songs from GTA games. They removed 17 songs from San Andreas in 2014 and in 2018 cut 50-odd songs from GTA IV while adding 11 new ones. This might only be temporary but ah, I'll believe it when I see it.
I am glad to see GFWL ripped from another game. What a mess that was. Back in 2008, Microsoft were focused on Xbox and weren't releasing many PC games but sure did have some wrongheaded ideas about awkwardly forcing parts of the Xbox ecosystem on PC in a way that mostly caused technical problems and frustration. What garbage. Valve's Steamworks did kill it but not soon enough. It's weird to contrast then with Microsoft's current efforts. After years of indifference to PC gaming, they're now bringing all their Xbox games to Windows 10, they give easy access to those and more in the remarkably cheap Xbox Game Pass, and they're generally doing right by us. Thicrosoft.
In other current news, Dan Houser, a co-founder of Rockstar and co-writer of GTA IV (among many other big Rockstar games), is leaving the company after 21 years.
Disclosure: Like any Edinburgh resident, I have inevitably found myself with a few pals who work at Rockstar. Those people are everywhere, you know, and not all of them identify themselves with t-shirts from the company swagstash.