This week one of this years biggest game is released, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, and the controversies have been quite many, as expected for a big title like this. But the issues have mostly been around the PC version, and its Multiplayer functionalities. The first was the lack of dedicated servers, which allow players to host their own servers. The game is basically locked to Infinity Wards (IW) own system. This also prevent Moding of the game, limiting the customers/players to modify the game and creating new “version” of it, basically improving and evolving the life of the game. For hard-core PC players, dedicated servers is a must! Some have even started a petition against IWs decision to skip it, and its growing fast.
And with the news about the dedicated server come the biggest problem, according to me, it has complete Steam Works incorporation! What this means is that it have the full Steam technology in the game, and it requires a Steam account to be played. This is bad for us at GamersGate, since we will never be able to sell the game, as our internal policy is to not accept games that require Steam to be run. It doesn’t make sense from a business perspective, giving our customers away to Steam automatically which would happen. It would be like stating that we Support Steam, a competitor, which is madness. And now even Direct2Drive have gone out, stating that they won’t sell the game at all due to the Steam incorporation, along side us and Impulse. This have really spawned a storm on the net around this. Cause D2D have before sold games that have the Steam in them. But its great that we are many putting pressure on developers and publishers not to support the Steam software, that lock the customers to Steam and strengthening their potential monopol. Its unfortunate that some new really good games have the Steam implementation, such as Empire: Total War, Serious Sam HD and of cause Valves own games Left 4 Dead 2.What Steam does is locking in its user in their network, something that some find okey, but I think most really doesn’t like.
And after the news about dedicated servers and no modding capability, then its revealed that the number of players in multiplayer have been reduced, from 32 vs 32 in Modern Warfare 1, to only 9 vs 9! Its seems like they didn’t want to do the PC version at all… Just focusing on the console ones. I heard on the Kotaku podcast were a guy called in and said that he had checked his nearest Gamestop regarding pre-orders, and I believe he said around 400 Xbox 360, and merely 10 PC pre-orders. And Call of Duty grew up on PC!
But the thing that interest me most about this controversy with dedicated servers and lack of modifications of the game, is how its a step backwards. IW claims that they have made it “eaiser” for people to just start playing online, that players don’t want to config or setup their own servers. Its like smacking all hard-core players in the face. I don’t think they realise what a mistake this is. The big problem is how they lock the game for people and removing features that is essential for it to be longed lived. Just look at Counter Strike, one of the worlds most played games, that started as a mod. If it weren’t for the openess of Half Life, it probably would have been borned on the Quake or Unreal engine. Then Valve and Steam would probably not be as big as they are today. Many great games, not to mention development studios have been spawned from this open culture. And instead of supporting this, IW and Activision decides to look their most important release this year completely tight! Its like taking a step backwards!
Last weekend I was in Karlstad, and I spoke with some students about this, and they said that now Modern Warfare 2 is something for them to play until Battlefield Bad Company 2 comes out, which will have dedicated servers. Also very interesting is how the founder of id Software (Doom and Quake series) John Carmack have gone out, defending IW decision to scrap dedicated servers.
Its gonna be very intersting to see the sales numbers for the PC version vs 360 and PS3 after all those controversies. Personally I will pick up my 360 copy on the day of release. Though it seems that several GameStop stores in North America started selling it many days before… Oh well!
And now that the game is released a new Steam controversy have surfaced. Those who bought or pre-purchased the game on Steam have to wait 2 days extra to play the game. I bet many of their customers are really pist about this!
Modern Warfare 2