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Why Did Spec Ops: The Line Never Get A Sequel?

Now a decade removed from its 2012 release, "Spec Ops: The Line" continues to be remembered fondly by the gaming community. Because of this, it's reasonable to ask why a sequel to the military shooter was never developed. Unfortunately, the prospective sequel had multiple things working against it and it will likely remain as nothing more than wishful thinking.

Developed by German-based Yager Development and published by 2K, the third-person shooter was released June 26, 2012. The player assumes the role of Captain Martin Walker, who's sent on a mission with his Delta Force squad to a Dubai that's been ravaged by sandstorms. Over time, the harsh environment and a catastrophic mistake take their toll on Walker as he gradually descends into madness and becomes the game's actual villain.

In his retrospective from GameSpot, David Wildgoose praised the game for being unafraid of asking the "uncomfortable questions" about violent video games and, more specifically, the industry's fascination with military shooters. Unlike its contemporaries at the time – including the "Battlefield" and "Call of Duty" franchises – "Spec Ops: The Line" put the psychological effects of war at the forefront of its narrative. It made for a memorable gaming experience, but disappointing sales figures quickly shut down any hopes for a sequel.

Spec Ops: The Line was marred by low sales, difficult development

Arguably the biggest reason Yager never got the green light for a sequel is because it didn't sell as well as Take-Two Interactive wanted. PC Gamer reported in 2014 that Take-Two announced low results for the first quarter of its fiscal year 2013. The parent company attributed the disappointing quarter to "Spec Ops" underperforming. According to VGChartz, the game sold about 550,000 units on the PlayStation 3, 420,000 on the Xbox 360, and 230,000 on PC.

The development of "Spec Ops: The Line" is also something Yager isn't eager to dive back into. In a 2014 German interview translated on Google, Art Director Mathias Wiese implied the reference material he looked at for the game was disturbing. After consuming so much graphic imagery during the game's five-year development, he said, the team was happy to move on. Yager was initially slated to develop "Dead Island 2," which has had its own troubled development for all the wrong reasons. In 2017, lead writer Walt Williams reinforced Wiese's sentiment on Twitter in a colorful way. Responding to a now-deleted tweet about a "Spec Ops" sequel, Williams said development was "brutal" and the team would "eat broken glass before making another." He later clarified that the tweet was merely hyperbole, but the fact remains that the mental exhaustion from a low-selling game doesn't inspire developers to do it again.