Last week, it came to light that Grand Theft Auto IV, Rockstar Games' grand open-world action game from 2008, was no longer available for purchase on Steam. Although an explanation was not provided then, Rockstar has finally released a statement (via USGamer) that sheds some light on the issue, with the blame being put on Games for Windows Live, Microsoft's defunct online gaming service.
"Grand Theft Auto 4 was originally created for the Games For Windows Live platform," began the statement from Rockstar. "With Microsoft no longer supporting Games For Windows Live, it is no longer possible to generate the additional keys needed to continue selling the current version of the game."
Until this serial key shortage is fixed, new copies of Grand Theft Auto IV will be missing from the PC space. While the PC versions of Episodes from Liberty City standalone story expansions are still available for purchase from Steam, their days may be numbered considering the expansions also use Games for Windows Live. Since this is a PC specific issue, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the title are unaffected.
As for the PC version of the base game, Rockstar has said that it is "looking at other options for distributing GTA4 for PC," and added that more information would be shared later.
This could mean that the studio is finally looking into cutting out Games for Windows Live integration from the game, maybe even attach Steamworks onto it instead. However, it's unclear how long will a venture like this take, so we may be looking at a long wait before Grand Theft Auto IV reappears on Steam with a price tag.