Hooray For Licenses! Update Strips 17 Songs From Steam Users' Purchased Copies Of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
from the like-using-a-time-machine-to-raid-a-CD-collection dept
Part One Billion in “You Don’t Own What You Pay For,” the ongoing saga in which paying customers purchasing “licenses” find themselves in possession of products inferior to those purchased physically or, worse, to those never purchased at all (i.e., “pirates”).
You might have noticed Steam downloading a sizeable update for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas over the weekend and wondered what that was about. A fancy secret tying into GTA V’s return to the west coast, perhaps? Not quite. The patch added support for XInput controllers like the Xbox 360 pad, which is nice, but also removed seventeen songs from various radio stations. No more angsting out and gunning it across Gant Bridge in the wrong lane listening to Killing in the Name, I’m afraid.
There’s no such thing as a perpetual or “forever” license, not when it comes to content. RockstarNexus has the full list, which seems to include the same 17 songs removed from the iOS versions prior to release. IPhone/iPad users will know these songs are missing going in. But those who purchased the game through Steam are only finding this out after the fact. Rockstar released no patch notes and any account set to auto-update went ahead and stripped content right out of purchasers’ games.
It’s not like Rockstar didn’t have options. It has dealt with music licensing issues before, but never in a way that has affected previously purchased games.
When music rights expired for some songs in GTA: Vice City, Rockstar left them in for folks who already owned it then made a separate version without them for new purchasers. It’s pretty unpleasant that they didn’t do the same here too.
This would have been the right way to handle this. Bundling in content removal with various bug fixes and notifying no one ahead of time is terrible way to treat paying customers. Add to that the fact that the pushed update seems to be responsible for a number of deleted/bricked saves, and you’ve got a bit of a PR problem on your hands.
But underneath it all lies the absurdity of licensing. Rockstar licensed songs from labels only to see them expire more quickly than the game’s marketability. This put it in the position of having to retroactively alter its game, and it was those who purchased nothing more tangible than a license who were negatively affected. Sure, Rockstar will never be able to “own” the recordings used in its game, but it seems like purchasers should be able to keep their purchased goods intact, even if the purchased item is nothing more than ones and zeros scattered across a variety of storage devices.