January 30, X gaming account Wario64 I Spotted Something Strange: Yager's Cult Classic Special Operations: The Line had been unceremoniously removed from online storefronts without warning. The developers who made the game were just as baffled as the fans. “That does not make any sense,” tweeted game director Cory Davis. “Especially since the themes addressed in Special Operations: The Line are more relevant than ever.
In 2012, Special forces was not at the forefront of the military shooter genre, where franchises like Call of Duty And Battlefield produced titles every year. It's been a decade since the last Special forces game, and Line was intended to reboot the series. Set in Dubai, it follows Captain Martin Walker and his team through the decimated city; As the story progresses, players are faced with increasingly horrific scenarios, such as the deployment of white phosphorus, as Walker's understanding of reality begins to deteriorate.
Its selling point, as its creators argued, was that the game did something different from its peers: tackling a more compelling story Heart of Darkness than military propaganda. The game's launch was not a commercial success, but a critical success. “It was culturally significant, tectonic in terms of how we think about creativity and critical conversations about war games,” said Mitch Dyer, a former video game critic who reviewed Line in 2012.
“For it to disappear overnight, it's a little traumatic for people who it meant something to or had interesting things to say about it, because now it's inaccessible,” Dyer says. Not that it's impossible to play (those who purchased physical copies can still experience it), but future generations won't be able to rediscover it. Looking back on the game today, 12 years later, Dyer describes his achievements as “pretty quaint” in hindsight. “It wasn’t just the story itself. It wasn't just the script or the words, which were all fantastic. It was execution and presentation,” he says. “It starts asking questions that you sort of become too numb to [or] take the time to think about it.
Dyer, now a game writer himself, and some of the developers who made gaming believe his imprints still exist in the industry today. It remained in cultural conversations for over a decade. Now it's gone. The reason for his disappearance? A licensing problem. Publisher 2K has confirmed that several of these partnerships, likely related to the game's music, have expired. Line will not return – and there are fears that its cultural impact will disappear too.
Preservation is THE The problem older games face today as the industry grapples with the dilemma of declining technology and increasing backwardness. Video games are disappearing for a variety of reasons: closed online services, old technology, new console generations, damaged physical media, storefront removals, and, of course, expired licensing agreements. Last year, the Video Game History Foundation and the Software Preservation Network published a amazing study which revealed that 87 percent of classic games have been lost over the years.