Published on October 31st, 2009 | by Deejay Knight, Editor/Founder
Dedicated Dilemma: Why PC Gamers Hate Modern Warfare 2
For the unaware, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is seeing quite the backlash on the PC. This backlash is due to Infinity Ward and/or Activision Blizzard and their decision to forgo using dedicated servers (and possibly mods) for Modern Warfare 2. Needless to say, there’s a quite a bit of backlash from PC gamers.
To give a bit of perspective, PC games have been using dedicated servers and server browsers since as far back as I can remember, and for good reason. Server browsers give gamers vital information that is very important to discern before you get into a match:
- How many players there are currently on the server, and the maximum number of players the server can support.
- The ping, or round trip time, from the local internet to the server.
- The current map & game type the server is running.
- Server name.
- Whether or not voice chat is available.
- What cheat/hack blocker the server supports.
Here’s an example containing all the above from Call of Duty: World at War. Now, as a gamer who started out on PC, I can tell you for sure that this matters greatly to PC gamers – myself included – even though we’re not the focus of the current gaming landscape.
You may think it’s whining, but as a gamer on both PC and console, I have to admit that console multiplayer gaming is sub-par in comparison to dedicated servers.
Take Xbox Live, for instance. There are *zero* dedicated servers outside MMOs, and in every game on the service the best connection gets host advantage and has the highest kill count because he has *zero* lag. It’s all peer-to-peer. The best connection takes all kinds of download/upload because everyone’s uploading to him.
With dedicated servers on the PC, the server is the host. Servers traditionally have VERY high upload/download capability. Since no gamer plays on the server’s connection, everyone has the best connection that their *own* internet can muster. Since no individual is the server, all gamers are on equal ground.
It’s similar to a referee in a sports game. Being the host is like bringing your best friend as your ref. Your best friend is way more likely to let you get away with just about anything than some random person you meet on the street, right? Only by having an impartial ref (dedicated server) can you have a fair game.
When you also take into account clans and the fact that some members of clans can be worldwide, having a single user to connect all the others seems a bit unfair. Usually, the dedicated server would be the connect for all of them, so in case someone is laggy, they’ll be laggy all on their own.
If you think people complaining about not having dedicated servers is crazy, think of the backlash if cable companies decided that a channel guide wasn’t needed anymore and took it away. Or if cell phone companies stopped giving you cell access if you didn’t have a WiFi connection to piggyback off of. When you think about those services, they’re what level the playing field and create a standard of service.
Without them, would you continue to support them with your money? I’m guessing not.
What, No Mods?
One of the major fears of the community is that without dedicated servers, the chances of mod support happening are nil. That could be warranted, considering the fact that we haven’t heard enough from Infinity Ward to know if you’ll be able to create your own servers with mod support.
What many gamers fear about this, though, is that mod support has been removed to make it easier to sell DLC on the PC. This could also change a lot about PC gaming, as many developers generally give out free updates regularly. Look at Team Fortress 2 or Unreal Tournament as examples.
Another important part of why PC gamers are pissed deals with the future. There’s a ton of time and effort tied into dedicated servers, and if this works for Infinity Ward, the chances of it happening regularly with other developers is nearly assured. It will become the new standard. For those that like to ensure they have the best connection by renting a dedicated server, this would ruin not only their gameplay but the other gamers involved.
The bottom line here is that PC gamers feel shorted. Shorted because the multiplayer is now “dumbed down” to the level of consoles. Shorted because mods generally keep games alive and selling well long after sales should’ve died down. Shorted because all these things happened in the background without at least a mention before now – weeks before the games release.
Most of all? I imagine gamers are most disappointed at the fact that Infinity Ward is a developer that has been known to bring a great multiplayer experience to the PC. They’ve been supportive of the PC modding scene. They’ve given their audience and community just about everything they’ve wanted in a game for so long that it’s almost like a kick in the chest for them to change the way we interface with our games without so much as a hint that it would happen.
A developer that for so long supported it’s community has now seemingly dropped us to the curb. Infinity Ward felt like a part of the family, and now we’re politely being shuffled to the door. No bounce, no play. Our way or the highway.
Am I condemning Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2? No. I’m just highlighting some of the reasons that gamers are afraid to support it. There’s no official way to speak on it now, as it hasn’t been released. The question from this point though, is whether the crapstorm around Modern Warfare 2 for the PC has harmed it’s sales on PC.
Here’s hoping this fiasco gets settled positively for all parties involved. All I can say is “We’ll see.”