Sunday, 25 October 2009

Infinity Ward and the PC Community

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Well, as a new contributor to the site my first post will be on a topic that's quite big right now in the PC community. Namely Infinity Ward's decision to take away dedicated server support for their new title Modern Warfare 2 (you may have heard of it).

Now before I get flamed by the console crowd be aware that I do own all the current gen consoles and handhelds bar the DS Lite cos I sold that a while back. I chose to play many of the multi-plat games on the PC and if it was a console only game the PS3/360. I do not play FPS on the consoles if I can help it, mainly due to the control scheme but also due to the match-making. As a matter of fact I choose to play my FPS and most other games on my PC because I find p2p match-making botched and very often laggy - something which dedicated servers alleviate.

Personally I don't know why Infinity Ward decided to get rid of the dedicated servers instead of having both match-making and dedicated servers. It's not like they're mutually exclusive methods of getting into a game. Also I cannot understand why they did not go for a 'master server' which EA did with Battlefield 2142 where there were stat tracking and had a log-in system in order to prevent pirated copies playing online. This worked fairly well in my opinion and whilst not perfect (stat-padding etc.) it still supported dedicated servers which many PC gamers prefer.

Of course I know many console gamers don't know nor care why the PC gamer crowd (or most of them from what I can see) are so uptight about this change Infinity Ward has made to Modern Warfare 2 but for me it's simply this: they've taken away the online advantages of playing online with the PC which hinges around those dedicated servers and lag-free gaming. That and now that the player cap has been reduced from 32 players to 16 to account for the p2p connection which in my eyes means less fun with more players in games. Some may not see it that way but the value proposition of the game has suddenly plunged four-fold so far.

The fact that Infinity Ward says that these changes were made to cater to the 'casual' and 'moderate' COD4 player is somewhat of an oxymoron. Such players either do not mind the server browser or don't exist. Those that found PC COD4 intimidating have either moved past the difficulty curve of choosing a server (which, let's be honest, if you can install a game on a PC and configure it you won't have much trouble at all) or have moved on to the console scene. I do not think that COD4 nor MW2 will ever be a 'casual' game by any stretch of the imagination and therefore saying that such a gamer exists on the PC is both an ice-thin argument and laughable.

It is a sad state of affairs overall in the PC community and I can't see this getting any better anytime soon. There were other avenues Infinity Ward could have taken to combat piracy (which will always be a problem on both the PC and 360) but the lack of choice of method is one I cannot accept. On a deeper level I do not like the fact that they have waited until now to announce these changes to the PC community. One could say they knew that there would be backlash and wanted to quietly slide this under our noses so near to release, especially if the claim that they have invested a lot of time and money into this new system. Surely one would think they'd want to shout about it from the rooftops if they honestly had believed that IW.NET would be a resounding success?

As many I don't think I will be buying this game and have instead pre-ordered Borderlands which I had not before since I had assumed all my gaming time would've been taken up by playing MW2. It's sad to think that within two years Infinity Ward has changed it's tune so drastically regarding the PC community; from their stance on supporting modders and dedicated servers (see here for an interview with Grant Collier) to the poor excuse of catering for players that either do not exist or are the distinct minority of PC gamers. That and the lack of information about IW.NET this close to release does not alleviate my concerns for the tone Infinity Ward are taking towards PC gaming in general.

For all those who are interested, please sign the petition here and show your support. As of writing it has reached 156744 signitures. If anything it will show Infinity Ward how many people's toes they are treading on with this decision.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

IW have hung themselves out to dry with this shit that is for sure.