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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Whoops: Steam accidentally pulled Rockstar’s games from sale earlier today

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There was a brief burst of excitement and confusion earlier today after a large number of Rockstar games, including Grand Theft Auto 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, LA Noire, Max Payne 3, and Bully, were “retired” from Steam, meaning that they were no longer available for purchase on the storefront. Fortunately, it turned out to be a mistake, and everything came back—including, for a very short period of time, one game that wasn’t supposed to.

The big blowout was logged on SteamDB, which tracks just about everything that happens on Steam. Not that many years ago, this sequence of database changes likely would’ve been interpreted as a technical problem right away, but the proliferation of non-Steam storefronts, including Rockstar’s own launcher and the Epic Games Store (which, you’ll recall, had a brief semi-exclusive on RDR2 when it came to PC in 2019) made us momentarily consider the possibility that Rockstar was making a big move aimed at establishing its own storefront as a standalone player.

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Within 30 minutes of their removal, however, all of the games were “unretired” and back on sale. Sources at the companies tell PC Gamer that the whole thing was accidental. 

While fixing the error, another accident occurred: Midnight Club 2, the most excellent 2003 street racing game that was delisted from Steam in early 2018 (reportedly due to expiring soundtrack licenses), was put back on sale along with everything else.

Despite pretty obviously being unintentional, I unrealistically hoped that Rockstar would let it slide. Alas, it was not to be: About an hour after it went back on sale, it was taken down again. The good news is that it looks like at least a few people were able to grab it before it was taken down. According to Steamcharts, Midnight Club 2’s peak concurrent player count climbed to 40 today, the highest it’s been since August 2017.

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