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PC Gamers In Uproar As  CoD: Modern Warfare 2  To Lack Dedicated Servers
PC Gamers In Uproar As CoD: Modern Warfare 2 To Lack Dedicated Servers
October 19, 2009 | By Kris Graft

October 19, 2009 | By Kris Graft
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In a weekend podcast with BashAndSlash.com, Infinity Ward's creative strategist Robert Bowling said that the PC version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will not have dedicated servers, a revelation that caused an uproar among PC gamers.

Activision-owned Infinity Ward has been working on a multiplayer backend called IWNet, which will provide match-making "just like you have on consoles" for Modern Warfare 2 PC players, Bowling said. "We're building in our own match-making so you can get in there and play with players your same rank."

He added, "You're completely reliant on IWNet, and there are no dedicated servers or server lists." Bowling said that PC gamers will still have the private match option where players can customize game rules, and invite people to the server.

In effect, gamers in the PC community will not be able to run Modern Warfare 2 on dedicated servers that they may rent, as they are able to with previous Call of Duty games. Other concerns that PC gamers have expressed on message boards and blogs regarding no dedicated servers include possible lag issues and unsatisfactory match-making.

In addition, no dedicated servers likely means that IWNet will not support mods and custom maps for the game, at least at launch. Mods are an aspect of PC gaming that helps keep a game's community going for a relatively long period of time. "I know the team has huge plans for what IWNet will turn into, and this is just the beginning," Bowling said. At launch, however, IWNet is mainly focused on match-making.

Bowling admitted that he wasn't totally up to speed on further specifics of IWNet, as it's a "code-heavy" topic. Gamasutra attempted to contact Bowling this afternoon, but did not receive a reply as of press time.

The revelation prompted a strong response from PC gamers who were anticipating the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the latest release in a franchise that originated on PC. One common example of PC gamer response can be seen on Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 PC forum:

"Just canceled my PC pre-order. My entire clan of 100-plus people is canceling too. Thanks IW! You just saved us all a total of over $6,000.00. We are thinking of stopping our dedicated CoD servers too. What point is there to helping a company provide multiplayer if they are just going to shaft you."

PC gamers objecting to Infinity Ward's decision are signing a petition, which listed 75,000 names as of press time. Addressed to the developer, the online petition's goal is to "Get Infinity Ward to review their decision not to allow fully dedicated servers for their forthcoming game release CoD:MW2. Remember that this Call of Duty was made popular by PC Gamers who have supported the series throughout."


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Comments


Chris Remo
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As someone who played the PC version of Call of Duty 4, I find this to be a pretty egregious omission. It's one thing to raise the price of the game to $60, even with no platform royalty fees to be paid, but to actually refuse to include functionality that has for over a decade been an integral part of the PC multiplayer experience is just atrocious.



The entire tradition of clan-based and forum- and site-based community multiplayer on the PC is entirely dependent on the concept of privately-run servers. It's a great collaboration between developer and community: the developer provides a service open enough that it can be run in accordance to the community's preferences, and the community shoulders the cost and effort necessary to support the servers themselves.



PCs will never be as streamlined and standardized as consoles--but by the same token, consoles can never provide as open and community-customized an experience as PCs. Trying to simply turn a PC into a console by closing off the routes that make the PC experience unique isn't going to provide a better experience for anyone.

Seth Anderson
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@Chris Remo: Very well put.

Joseph Cook
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I completely agree, Chris. Unfortunately, this is doubtlessly due to Activision wanting PC gamers forced into a system where they have to pay for DLC, and removing the ability for the community to increase the life span of the game through community-made multiplayer maps.

Bob Stevens
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I don't suppose that no dedicated servers automatically means no mods. Probably not at launch, sure, but I was reading today that the COD4 mod tools didn't come out until 3 months after release.

Joseph Cook
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On the contrary, since Infinity Ward will be routing *all* traffic through their own service, it would be impossible for a user to host any sort of custom map in a custom game except for the extremely unlikely event that they would allow users to upload custom content to IW's servers.

Rocket Man
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No modding, no mapping and no dedicated servers. This is the most idiotic thing in PC gaming since the creation of the PCGA (aren't they going to say a thing about this, BTW?).



Kotick is forcing his hand with this. PC gamers are not going to buy his $10 map packs if he puts a gun to our head. We'll just move to other things, like Bad Company 2, since DICE (very opportunistically) just assured us that they'll provide great dedicated servers.



A pity about IW: yet another company that forgets who put them where they are. They can now go stand in the corner with Blizzard and Epic, for all I care.

ken sato
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I wonder what the overall cost savings are to title production versus the cost in sales?



Right now the code tech for PC and Xbox is pretty extensive and well along, so what is the cost in engine performance by making the code and assets open ended to be modded? (i.e. QA testing the tools, stability in code, etc.)



Does longer product life translate to continued sales via dedicated servers? How much does reselling affect title earnings as the publisher & developer don't see any earnings from resale?



I mean, it's one thing to look at an innovative company like IW who took a pretty big risk going modern and then ding them on trying something new operationally and developmentally. Creative people aren't going to always create something you appreciate.



On the other hand, if there's enough hoopla, I'm pretty sure someone is going to be tasked to find and carry out a solution. Thank god it's not me!!!

Alexander Bruce
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No dedicated servers sounds to me like trying to play Left 4 Dead before you knew about the openserverbrowser console command. You'd try to find a server, it puts you on one, there's lag / people you don't want to play with, so you quit and try to find another one... it puts you back in the same one... and then you quit the game.



I really don't like anything that removes choice from my hands. Sometimes I like joining servers that only have very few people playing, or waiting in line for a decent server to open up, which I can do through a server browser. With match making, etc. it just comes down to luck of the draw.



That's not to say that this is necessarily the case with Modern Warfare 2, but streamlining the process for consoles when PC's are very different is not a good thing, and there have been many cases for that.

David Janssens
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This smells like a plan to counter copying of the game. If they control the gates to multiplayer, they can make sure nobody without a valid key can get online. With dedicated servers, you don't have that assurance.

DaFox -
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@David Janssens: The problem here is that does not even stop piracy, Even World of Warcraft has third party dedicated servers.



And well that's about as closed as it gets.

Ben Rice
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I think 3rd party MMO servers, by and large are something people tinker around with or use for machinma. Generally, these uses are harmless I think.



In extreme cases MMO servers are beneficial such as when an official server is shut down such as Phantasy Star Online (Schthack's PSO server) or official servers deviate wildly from what players want (Ultima Online's many custom servers).

Ben Rice
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Sorry, my point was that I believe 3rd party MMO servers have a pretty small impact on the revenue of the official servers. Combine this with regular content updates and it's minuscule.



Allowing a dedicated server is really only going to hamper 2 things for MW2: mod development, and LAN parties which generally have no/limited internet access.

Chris Notsaying
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Some articles took the dribble they said as fact and posted it without getting any real numbers or references. Please direct us to the forum posts where people were constantly complaining that they "couldn't find a decent server to play on between all of the cheaters, the insular communities, and huge skill level disparities that the original game's community fractured into".



You can't because they didn't. If it was so bad, why was it the most popular FPS game ever created?



What number crunching CEO's and accountants fail to realize, is that the casual community exists because the hardcore community exists and vice versa. It doesn't matter if it is video games, or sports. You wouldn't have the same interest in high school sports if a more hardcore pro team didn't also exist and you wouldn't have the pro players if they didn't start out as casual players.



If you cut off one, you eventually lose the other.



Where do you think most of the positive COD4 free good press came from? It came from clans, modders, map makers, competitions, hardcore fan web pages and word of mouth from the most passionate hardcore players out there.



IW just **** all over those people.



The sales of COD4 to my clan were only for the reason that we could mod the game to be more hardcore and make it similar to the experience of Rainbow Six Ravenshield. You wouldn't have sold us a single copy if the game were locked down and not mod friendly.



Bad customer service reports spread 100X farther than good customers service.



PC users won't be saying "COD MW2 PC version sucks, don't by it"



They will be saying "COD MW2 sucks, don't buy it"

Jim Shepard
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There's a few things that need to be considered.



First, It's unclear how much of this is Infinity Ward and how much of this is Activision. The label "IWNet" doesn't really mean anything. If Activision has decided they want their hottest shooter property to be more controlled and more thoroughly monetized, then that's what is going to happen.



Second, The protest from these consumers is meaningless. They are an FPS clan. There's no doubt they're all going to buy copies, either the day of ship or as soon as they see a friend playing it. It's showmanship. The PC sales are a drop in the bucket compared to the console sales, and the PC sales will pick up in the long run anyway. The game is a juggernaut, and if Activision decided that every copy would contain a fist sized clump of wasps in the box, it would still sell 10 million copies and at best we'd learn to talk fondly on forums about the time before wasps in every box was the norm.

ken sato
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He has a point. Sorry, I got kinda distracted by the argument--always enjoyed a good one.



I had assumed (and that's my problem right there!) that IWNet would be along the samel lines as Battle.net where the servers and service would be owned by...well now that I think about it I can't say who would own it, probably the publisher who can fund it better(either being maintained or outsourced).



Since console sales will probably make up the bulk of sales across the board, and PC sales so slim profit margin-wise...well, yeah. Okay.



I still though say that additional personnel and resources can probably be brought to bear with minimal cost though that would lead to work done on the NEXT iteration of the franchise.

Jesse Pascoe
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Well, I was on the fence about this game. . . I guess they just made up my mind for me.

James Barnette
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The reason there are no dedicated servers is because this eliminates people being able to run servers that do not check CD keys.



This was done strictly as a anti piracy measure in disguise.



I bought COD4 MW on both PC and then later on xbox and I have to say the XBOX multiplayer experience was a million times better than it was on PC.



the PC side just had tooo many hackers and cheaters. Another thing is that there have been some many problem in the last year or so with EvenBalance's Punkbuster system I think they see this as a solution that they have more control over. If they have control over all of the servers then then they can more easily control the quality of the community. It make it easier to ban the key of a user that is cheating.



Honestly I think it will provide a better experince.



That being said, I hope that they can find some way to implement mods. perhaps some for official submission program. I think that it can be done though the question is if they will submit the resources to make it happen. Alot of times though at least from the publishers perspective they kinda view mod a extending the life of a product further than is what the publisher sees as in the interest of profit. Often times there are people will not get a the latest version of a game in a series if there is a mod for the version that they already have that provides similar gameplay but doesn't cost them anything.



honestly how big a deal is it if there is no modding? I mean if you look online the server that do have custom maps or mods have almost no-one playing on them. As a matter of fact I would say that the vast majority of the dedicated servers have no one on them at all like 90% of the time.



anyway my 2 cents.



I for one will prolly be getting both PC and xbox versions this time.



IF anyone at IW happens to read this. Suggestion: make accounts common accross the platforms. If I so I can have say a XBOX, and a PC and a PS# copy registered to my account and no matter what version I play the point all go into that common profile.



It is really annoying to have to start over in rank when I have a high rank on another platform.

Andy Ross
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When I first heard about this, my gut instinct was that this was a terrible move that will surely stifle any kind of hardcore community and greatly decrease the lifespan of MW2 (due to the lack of user-made content or server maintenance). In my more cynical moments, I'd imagined that this was purely done to sell lame micro-transaction content. Therefore, it made me frown a whole lot.



However, then I thought back the eons I've spent as a FPS player having to wade through the mountains of laggy, lame servers which inevitably make me wait a very long time to download other people's stupid skins in order to play on someone's terribly-made map on a server with those damned annoying Unreal Tournament announcer sounds (great for only the first 100 times). The irony usually is that all I normally want to do in the first place was play the vanilla game, pure and simple. Therefore, this might actually improve the multiplayer experience drastically and if it decreases piracy then it's all the better for it.

James Barnette
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Exactly!


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