Alan Wake to be removed from sale over music licenses

Renewal is not "in Remedy's hands" due to Microsoft publishing deal, so the revered game will be pulled from PC and Xbox today

Remedy Entertainment's Alan Wake will be removed from sale on console and PC today due to music licensing issues.

The use of licensed music was a distinctive feature of Alan Wake, with tracks from artists like Roy Orbison, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, David Bowie and Harry Nilsson used to at the end of each chapter and in the game itself. However, according to Remedy, the music licenses only lasted for seven years, and the complexity of resolving the situation means that the game must be removed from sale indefinitely.

Those who already own Alan Wake will still be able to play - the retail version will still run, and digital owners will be able to re-download it - but today is potentially the last chance to purchase it for the first time. As a sweetener, Remedy launched a 48-hour "Sunset Sale," in which its price was cut by 90% on Steam.

In a flurry of questions that followed the announcement on Twitter, the Finnish developer said it had no control over its pricing on the Xbox store and - only Steam.

Other Twitter users enquired about possible solutions to the problem, including a patch or update that would replace the problematic songs. However, Remedy made it clear that doing so was "massively more complex" than the question implies.

Another popular suggestion was that Remedy renew the music licenses, but that responsibility is "not really in Remedy's hands." Alan Wake was, of course, first published by Microsoft Game Studios as an Xbox 360 exclusive, and Remedy has confirmed on its community forums that it was not involved in negotiating the music licenses for the first game.

I did negotiate the music for Alan Wake's American Nightmare, a downloadable sequel published two years later. Remedy has confirmed that American Nightmare will remain on sale, and that it is "looking into re-licensing the music for Alan Wake."

However, there is "no timeframe" for that outcome, so the game will remain unavailable for the foreseeable future.

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Latest comments (3)

Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
That's a really unfortunate reason for the game to be pulled, but I can see how tricky it must be.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 2 years ago
Music licensing, especially of popular recognizeable music like "lime in the coconut" is both expensive and greatly time consuming. and when a third party is involved, they have to go through bureaucracy and people giving them the time of day.

Writing their own contracts would be at least twice as hard, and potentially exponentially more expensive on licensing fees alone. If I were to speculate, Remedy would likely be looking to buy out Microsoft's interest in AW before moving onto any relicensing, and of course the desperately needed AW2.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 2 years ago
It sucks but this happens a lot more than people think. It's the reason why many different television shows still haven' received a home release. Alan Wake is without a doubt one of the best games of last generation so I would suggest people still looking for it to seek out a physical copy as they are pretty affordable these days. It will be well worth it.
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