Remember RUSE? It was a Ubisoft-published strategy game about espionage and subterfuge that came out in 2010. Critical consensus pegged it as decent, but not amazing. Despite that, it's maintained a consistent, occasionally growing Steam player base for six years. Unfortunately, it appears that admittedly itsy bitsy slice of the player pie (a few hundred players at any given moment) wasn't enough to convince Ubisoft to renew some licensing deals, turning the game into a ticking time bomb of contraband. As a result, they had to yank it from Steam and delete its website.
"Due to the expiration of licensing rights over certain military items within the game, R.U.S.E is no longer available for purchase," Ubisoft told PCGamesN. "This does not, in anyway [sic], affect players who already have the game in their library."
RUSE has actually been un-purchasable since December, but until now, nobody was quite sure why. For months, players scrambled for answers on the game's Steam discussion board and Eugen's forums. Even the game's developers were in the dark. "As far as we are concerned, I couldn't get any reason for what happened," a moderator for RUSE developer Eugen Systems wrote in December. "My boss even learned about it from me. And unfortunately, all the people I knew at Ubisoft back then are gone. The Ubi producer working with us for RUSE was Mathieu Girard, whom since then has created his own studio (Amplitude, creator of the Endless series)."
The whole situation is pretty unfortunate. On the upside, people who own the game can still play it, but sadly, they can't bring any new conniving warmongers into the fold. That's pretty much a kiss of death for multiplayer-focused games, and it seems like a lot of players are giving up on the game now.
In this day and age, it's inevitable that online communities for any given game will dwindle. It's also understandable that Ubisoft probably had better places to put their time and resources. Despite all of that, RUSE managed sizable growth spurts as recently as the start of last year. You've gotta wonder what would have happened if the game had received better long-term support, how much the player base would have grown. It's a shame when dedication is rewarded with, well... this.