Update: When Alpha Protocol was removed from Steam, Sega said the publishing rights for the spy RPG had expired, kicking off some speculation about Obsidian, now a Microsoft studio, getting the rights back. It turns out Sega still owns Alpha Protocol, however, and the statement was not accurate.
"Due to the expiry of music rights in Alpha Protocol, the title has been removed from Steam and is no longer on sale," a Sega spokesperson said in a new statement.
An expired music license doesn't mean Alpha Protocol is gone for good, however. Alan Wake, for instance, reappeared on Steam and GOG after a year of absence when Microsoft renegotiated the music rights. It's not clear if Sega intends to do the same.
Original story: Alpha Protocol, one of the best spy games on PC, has been removed from Steam. The page is still live, but it's no longer available for purchase. "At the request of the publisher, Alpha Protocol is no longer available for sale on Steam," a notice reads.
When the notice was spotted (cheers, Nibel), there was some speculation that a remaster or something new was coming, but unfortunately it's a much less exciting reason: the publishing rights have expired.
"Following the expiry of Sega’s publishing rights for Alpha Protocol, the title has been removed from Steam and is no longer on sale," a Sega spokesperson told me.
If you own Alpha Protocol, you'll still be able to play it, and you'll keep being able to download it whenever you want. If you never picked up this gem, however, you'll need to find other ways.
Phil revisited Alpha Protocol in 2017 and found it hard to stay mad at its missteps, even after taking off the rose-tinted goggles.
"It throws a lot of design spaghetti at the wall, and some of it sticks. More importantly, there are lessons here that should be learned from and built upon. There’s potential in the idea, be it of letting players experience a more open, branching form of spy fiction, or just not letting RPGs languish in the realms of fantasy or post-apocalypse. Alpha Protocol isn’t a classic, but it’s earned a place as a cult favourite—just like everything Obsidian does."
It's unlikely we'll ever get a sequel, but even now I'm going to keep dreaming.