In brief: Nothing lasts forever, especially licensing. Konami is learning about the pitfalls of borrowing someone else's property as it works to re-up its rights to historical footage used in Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3. In the meantime, it pulled both titles from all digital stores and streaming services.
Konami announced the temporarily removal of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater from digital stores while it renews the licenses of the historical footage they contain. The company hopes to make the games available again once it has restored licensing.
Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all have versions of the games available on their platforms. Nvidia and GOG also have skin in the game. A complete list of all affected versions follows:
- PlayStation 3 Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty HD Edition
- PlayStation 3 Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater HD Edition
- PlayStation 3 Metal Gear Solid HD Edition
- PlayStation Vita Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty HD Edition
- PlayStation Vita Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater HD Edition
- PlayStation Vita Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
- PlayStation Now Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
- Xbox 360 Metal Gear Solid HD Edition: 2 & 3
- Nintendo 3DS Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D
- GOG.com Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance
- Nvidia Shield Metal Gear Solid 2 HD for Shield TV
- Nvidia Shield Metal Gear Solid 3 HD for Shield TV
Konami's vague description of "select historical archive footage used in-game" doesn't specify the problematic scenes. Considering how much real-world footage is found in both games, it will be hard to pinpoint the exact parts without Konami's help.
At least Konami is looking to renew the licenses instead of just eliminating the expired footage. The same can't be said about GTA IV, which Rockstar also removed from digital stores after some of its music licenses expired. When the game returned, many songs were missing from the radio stations.
Konami needs to maintain the historical footage in the Metal Gear Solid games as it sets the pace, story, and atmosphere. That's a big part of the Metal Gear Solid experience that fans of the franchise adore. Without this footage, Metal Gear Solid games wouldn't be the same.