IGN-owned digital game distributor Direct2Drive announced today it's refusing to sell Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on PC, protesting the game's integration with Valve's Steamworks.
"We don’t believe games should force the user to install a Trojan Horse," said the company -- referring to Steam, in a statement explaining its decision.
The company says its beef is not with publisher Activision -- in fact, Direct2Drive will offer a $5 coupon off of some of the Activision titles it sells as a compensation to its users.
Direct2Drive instead opposes MW2's Steamworks integration -- as an online storefront for digital download games, it competes directly with Valve's Steam service in some areas. In the highest-profile endorsement of Valve's digital tools to date, Infinity Ward will use the Steam client to update, support and authenticate the game.
The company says it told publisher partners earlier in the year that it would not sell titles that use Steam as a workaround for DRM, as it opposes the bundling of a storefront with a functionally free technology.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is considered by many measurement systems to be the holiday season's most anticipated title, and Activision has boldly stated it expects the "biggest entertainment launch of all time" for the game. Retailer GameStop agrees, having seen more preorders for the game than it's ever registered, and expecting the game to see the biggest launch in its history.
All PC copies of Modern Warfare 2 will ship with Steamworks support -- not just those sold on Steam itself. Beyond the Steamworks features themselves, one possible secondary benefit of that move means all copies of the game will be automatically updated the same way with the same patches.
Gamasutra has contacted Valve for comment on this story and will update with any we receive.
[UPDATE: Other major digital download sites have also joined this boycott, with GamersGate also not stocking MW2 on PC, and Stardock-owned Impulse confirming to website VE3D: "We share some of the same concerns as Direct2Drive over the bundling of the Steam client with the game. The most obvious issue is the forced inclusion of a competitor's store that blocks us from carrying the game."]