Update (Oct. 26, 2018): Remedy confirmed via tweet Thursday that Alan Wake has returned to Steam after publisher Microsoft renegotiated the rights to the game's music. The game will once again be available on other digital platforms (including the Xbox 360) shortly, Remedy writes.
Original Story (May 12, 2017)
If you missed out on 2010's Alan Wake—a game our reviewer called "a wonderful exercise in video game storytelling"—this weekend will be your last chance to purchase the downloadable version of the game before it's gone for good.
Developer Remedy Entertainment announced on Twitter this morning that the game will be "removed from stores after 5/15 due to expiring music licenses." That removal includes the Xbox 360 marketplace, according to a follow-up tweet.
"We are looking into relicensing the music for Alan Wake but have no timeframe for this," Remedy said in a FAQ on its forums.
In advance of the ignominious upcoming removal, the Steam version of the game will be discounted 90 percent starting Saturday, May 13, from its current price of $30 (£23) to an extremely low price of $3 (~£2). The follow-up Alan Wake's American Nightmare will also be discounted (along with all DLC for the original game), though the sequel will still be on sale going forward.
Time-based limits on music rights issues have impacted the continued availability of games before, but the issue is usually limited to music or rhythm-based titles. Such issues have been a major headache for transferable songs in the Rock Band series over the years, and they seem to be preventing export of tracks from The Beatles Rock Band to other franchise titles.
The PC version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had 17 songs removed from the Steam and mobile phone versions after those song licenses expired. And the HD re-release of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater used a mix of songs from the first two games in the series and newer songs due to rights issues.
Fortunately, used copies of the disc-based Xbox 360 version of Alan Wake can still be found for relatively cheap, meaning music rights wrangling can't prevent the game from being sold altogether after this weekend. But this could be a preview of how more and more purely digital games will soon be impossible to find as online storefronts continue to shut down.