The PC… Err… Nerfed Version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

*Update: Activision responds to comments about IW nerfing PC CoD: MW2.

According to Tom’s Hardware, Activision President, Mike Griffth has responded to Kotaku concerning the comments by saying they are, “Watching this very carefully and paying attention to it. But we’re not overly concerned about it.”

Quite honestly, Activision does not have to worry about it. As I already addressed in the original posting below, IW’s and Activision’s bread and butter for this game will come from sales of the game to console owners. He admitted that Activision and IW have intended for the PC online experience for this new game to be similar to the “friendly consumer experience” enjoyed by console game players.

The problem with this is that no one told Activision to change the way PC gamers have been playing multiplayer games for more than a decade. If there is one thing that I have not heard since playing PC multiplayer games myself (1998) is “Gee, I wish someone would reinvent the way we all get together and play on a server because it’s just too goddamned hard as it is.”

In the end, pointing at the console sales charts is nothing more than an excuse to be lazy. Activision and IW have decided that just not enough people buy the PC version of the game to justify caring enough.

Some of the commenters in the Tom’s article are obvious console fanboys. You want to play games on a console? Go right ahead because I, personally, will not judge you. I mastered Super Mario on the NES. I played Pitfall on the Atari and Intellivision. I am the proud owner of a Wii and, hopefully, some day a 360 or a PS3. Fanboys are people who just don’t see both sides of an argument. They are right and everyone else be damned. I pose this question to console owners: How would you feel if Activision and IW said to you, “Sorry guys, but the PS3 and 360 versions of MW2 are single-player only. Console sales just do not justify us making any kind of effort for online play.” You would be pretty ticked off. And you would know how PC gamers feel right about now.

To be honest, my personal interest in this game was for the single-player side only. But now I need to seriously reconsider buying it or waiting till Steam sells it for dirt cheap before I pick it up. In the meanwhile, I’m behind in my games so, it would be no immediate loss for me. I feel bad for all of the players in the CoD PC community.

 

*Original posting

As reported on Tom’s Hardware, Ars Technica and probably a billion other places, the newest release of the Call of Duty franchise by Infinity Ward comes with severe limitations that are guaranteed to piss off CoD PC fans and the established online CoD community.

During a podcast and a Best Buy chat, Infinity Ward gave out more details about it’s newest game that have enraged fans by limiting the amount of players on a server to 18 , no more dedicated servers and no custom controls via console commands.

Online play

IW has setup CoD: MW2 so that the game will automatically pick the host of the online match, based on predetermined criteria. Basically, those people with the best bandwidth and the computing power out of those who wish to play in the match will host a game. You will not be able to pick what player will host the game. There will also be an, at-least, 5 second pause during a host migration just in case the original host quits – for any reason.

The problem that comes into play here is that many ISPs have rules and regulations against it’s customers hosting any kind of server. Many ISPs will simply throttle bandwidth if a server has been detected. The game will then pick the next player who is capable of running the “server”.

For those who are hosting games, they will experience latency so their “connection” will match the rest of the players.

The ability to remove problem players from a game has also been taken away. So, this leaves PC players of the new CoD game left with almost no ability to use the game as a base to make their own modifications and help make online play better for their fellow gamers.

As for recording of games. Demoing matches is a staple of online play. I used to do it when I used to compete with clans in Quake 3 CTF and RtCW matches. With YouTube, players can upload their gameplay vids so everyone else can experience what the player experiences during play. When asked by a questioner if the ability to record games is in the game (and then begging for a “yes”), they were told “No”.

Balance

Apparently, “balance” is the new buzz word at Infinity Ward. In response to a question about console commands, graphics tweaking and other tweaking, IW’s Vince Zampella said, “We would like you to play the game the way we designed and balanced it.” This also means that there is no longer any lean (when you can peek around a corner to see who is coming without being shot). leaning would ruin the balance of the game, according to Infinity Ward.

The good news for players is that you can still customize your controls, use text chat in-game and change graphics settings. I guess doing this won’t ruin the “balance” of the game.

So why do this?

Piracy

That’s a really good question and one that cannot be easily answer even by Infinity Ward. Chatter around the campfire is that some of this has to with piracy. With IW completely at the helm, they don’t have to worry about pirates, cheaters and the rest of their ilk. But the problem with this is that, as we have seen recently with EA’s DRM debacles, instituting draconian measures and DRM just drives users to download pirated games. Users who would not normally pirate games can now enjoy a much better experience playing a game than if they had bought a copy from the local store.

I always encourage people to buy a game if they want to play it. I’ve been called a “goody-goody” for it but the thing is that this newest fanning of the flames by IW is exactly the knee-jerk reaction which makes the lives of everyone a lot harder. If you do download a pirated version and you like it, go buy a copy and spare the rest of us from having to deal with this bullshit.

And before you think otherwise, I am very much against draconian DRM and other measures that developers and distributers are now taking to combat piracy. They are losing the battle and the rest of us gamers are caught in the middle.

Consoles are where the money is

Let’s face it, without the need to break out statistics, sales of consoles and their games pretty much blows away the PC gaming market. It’s been this way for several years now thanks to big, cheap flat panel TVs, the Nintendo Wii and HD gaming via the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 with integrated entertainment systems wifi or wired net capabilities. Who needs to spend 1200€ on computer hardware like I did when they can get a console a fourth of the size of my computer case for a third of the price?

There are fanboys on both sides who claim that PC gaming is dead. Steam and the games it provides to the public is one of many fine examples of why that cannot be any further from the truth. I think the real problem here is the game developers are starting to go down the same path the recording industry did. The recording industry latched onto a huge source of revenue while becoming very complacent in their position. Quality suffered at the hands of quantity. The same thing is starting to happen with the gaming industry. The only thing we are missing now is a cartel “representing” the gaming industry suing every man, woman and child within a 1 mile radius of a DVD drive.

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About gopha

Gopha is a web programmer, techie and heir to several Nigerian fortunes. In his spare time he likes to game, spend time with his wife, daughters and dogs. He eats [far too much], watches TV and lift weights. He also like to take moonlit walks on the beach and sing songs next to a roaring campfire, in a white sweater with his acoustic guitar. View all posts by gopha

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