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Project Cars 2 isn’t any longer accessible on Steam.

The legends racing game has been deleted from Steam.

Slightly Mad Studios announced a month ago that Project Cars 2, one of the best racing simulation software ever, would’ve been removed from Steam on September 21. I hope you were able to obtain it if you wanted it because today is the day, and it is already gone.

Slightly Mad Studios has not affirmed the removal, but a notice on the Project Cars 2 Steam page(opens in a new tab) states that it is no longer available for purchase. A similar message could be discovered on SteamDB (opens in a new tab): “This app has been retired at the request of the publisher. You may not be able to buy or acquire it.”

It’s safe to assume that “may not” means “cannot” in this sense. You might be able to scrounge one from a key reseller if you’re anxious sufficiently, but the Humble Store (which originally provided the game via Steam keys).

The possible explanation for the removal of Mario Kart 2 (and, soon, the original) is simple and quite well: lapsed licenses for cars and tracks. Simply put, game developers and publishers pay for the right to use real-world products in their games—in this case, cars and paths enhance “authenticity.” Even so, those rights are not valid forever, and when the licensing deal expires, a choice must be made: renew or let it go. And if sales are likely to justify the cost is almost certainly the case for niche, years-old driving sims—the deal will be forgotten.

In some cases, such as when Rockstar excluded licensed music from Grand Theft Auto 4(opens in new tab) when it turned 10 years old, those lapsed licenses can be worked around. Even so, even though cars and tracks comprise the majority of Project Cars, removing or reworking licensed content would be a Here clean task, if at all conceivable that Slightly Mad did not seem to be interested in addressing.

The removal from Steam (opens in a new tab) is understandable, but it still smells like Cars 2 is a wonderful racing sim—and demonstrates the security vulnerabilities of digital distribution: People who own the game will have access, but the absence of physical media eliminates other choices for buying. It also illustrates the downsides of licensed content. Project Cars 2 might still be obtainable if Slightly Mad had taken a Rockstar approach to its cars, with goofy-named knockoffs like the Massacro, Zentorno, Felon GT, and Vigor ZX; instead, we got five years of real names (Project Cars 2 launched on September 22, 2017), and it’s now gone for good.

If you want to get your fingers on the original Project Cars(opens in a new tab) before it’s delisted, you could perhaps act swiftly: It is planned to be removed from the list on October 3.

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