WTF?! If you have experienced the frustratingly annoying problem of older Windows Live games not working, Rockstar has a solution — don't buy them. The company has confirmed that it has pulled GTA IV from Steam because of problems that Microsoft's Games for Windows Live platform has caused, even though it could theoretically be fixed with an update. Confused? Me, too.
You may or may not have noticed that Grand Theft Auto IV is no longer available on Steam. Although it is an older title, it is arguably the best game in the GTA franchise. The removal of the purchasing link for its page was because of problems with Microsoft's Games for Windows Live (GFWL) platform. Rockstar confirmed that this is the case in a statement to The Verge:
“Grand Theft Auto IV was originally created for the Games For Windows Live platform. 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 IV for PC and will share more information as soon as we can.”
Microsoft shuttered the Games for Windows Live store in 2013, marking the start of a phase-out of the platform that launched in 2007. Ultimately, Redmond decided that it did not make sense to continue GFWL support as it was competing with Xbox Live, and ended support in 2014. Players were only able to redeem points on one or the other. Plus it got in the way of its plans for cross-compatibility.
Since it axed the platform, many users have complained about GFWL causing problems with some games, including GTA IV. While there are workarounds, they are quite a hassle. So much so that people have posted lengthy guides on how to get the game to run.
In light of this, Rockstar decided to stop selling it until it finds a distribution solution that works. Apparently, the company feels patching GFWL out of a twelve-year-old title is not in the budget, but did not specifically exclude this as an option. Although, it might not have been so troublesome had the studio addressed the issue as other publishers did back in 2013 when it was clear that the troubled platform was on the way out.
What is even more confusing is that Rockstar updated the game not quite two years ago to remove songs that had had their licensing expire. Of course, deleting song files and altering the code that calls them is a far easier fix than trying to sort out the GFWL mess.