Infinity Ward has fucked over “Call of Duty” fans who play on the PC.

Yes I am upset and it’s probably a bad idea to write a blog entry when I’m as upset as I am now, but I’m going to anyway because this needs to be said. This is not a review of the game, I’ll write one of those later. This is a warning to anyone who’s thinking of buying it for the PC: Don’t fucking bother.

The reason why is quite simple. Infinity Ward decided that it was too much work to do much more than simply port the game over from the Xbox 360 so that’s all they did. The broke a long-standing tradition among first person shooters on the PC and decided they were not going to release a dedicated server to the fans. Instead they announced that MW2 would make use of a new matchmaking service they would be calling IWNet. They made this announcement during an interview on BASHandSlash.com’s podcast. It was not received well:

Bowling, the Infinity Ward community manager, said IWNet makes multiplayer more accessible to the PC community on Modern Warfare 2, replacing the need for dedicated servers that are hosted and managed by players. But the hardcore PC crowd to whom he was talking, on BASHandSlash.com’s webcast, did not take the news in a completely positive light.

“The silence you hear is because we’ve got a community right now structured in such a way that it relied on having dedicated servers,” one of BASHandSlash’s moderators told Bowling.

“You’re definitely reshaping the way the community has been set up,” another said later.

“Definitely,” Bowling acknowledged.

Reshaping is certainly one word to use. I prefer to use the words fucked over. Which is definitely a much harsher assessment, but the lack of dedicated servers is not the worst of it. A bit later the folks at ArsTechnica filled us in on the other changes to come:

We thought the lack of dedicated servers was bad, but now we can add the lack of console commands, the inability to have a say in who hosts the game, a lengthy pause while the game migrates to a new host if the currently selected host quits, no leaning, no option to record matches, and no way to kick or block trouble players, hackers, or cheaters.

See that last part I made bold type above? That’s where Infinity Ward has fucked over PC fans of their game. Mere hours after the game hit store shelves there was an aimbot/wallhack released for the PC version which you may recall me writing about previously. CoD:MW2 was released on November 10th. They didn’t get around to banning the first batch of cheaters until November 30th at which point about 2500 people were banned from Steam. Not that it matters as there is a crack out there and you can make as many Steam accounts as you want, each of which gets its own SteamID. There’s even a YouTube video showing you how to do it. Plus there are new hacks being created all the time. That’s just a fact of life on the PC. Hell, some of the hacks even advertise themselves in the game.

There’s no way that Infinity Ward or Valve can keep up with the cheaters in any reasonable amount of time. If we had dedicated servers this would be less of a problem as the admins can kick and ban by IP address at the first sign of a cheater. As things stand now not only are there no admins to deal with cheaters, but there’s no means of kicking cheaters at all. At the very fucking least it would’ve been nice to have the ability to call a vote to kick someone who’s being an ass in the game, but Infinity Ward won’t even let us do that.

I can live without dedicated servers if I have to. I can live with the max size of a match being 18 people. I can live with not being able to use custom user created maps. I can even live without the ability to lean around corners. Not being able to get rid of the cheaters, however, completely ruins the multiplayer game which, when you consider how short the single player is, is the main reason to buy the game in the first place.

There’s a certain class of person out there known as a Griefer and it appears they are having a field day with MW2. And why not? It’s not like anyone can do anything about it outside of Valve and Infinity Ward and that’ll take weeks before the SteamID is banned and then they can just make another one and keep right on going. This evening I joined and quit no less than two dozen games because the cheaters were out in force with no less than at least 4 cheaters in each game and one where half the players where cheating. I spent an hour just trying to find a game that didn’t have a cheater in it. When I quit the last game I sat down and wrote this entry.

This has to be the stupidest decision Infinity Ward has ever made. I find it hard to believe there isn’t a single person on that development team who didn’t foresee this being a problem with their decision to drop dedicated servers and remove any ability to kick players from a game. It was one thing when it was one guy every few dozen games or so, but when every game you join has a whole bunch of fucking cheaters in them it kills any desire I have to play the game at all. On the console versions all you have to worry about is people taking advantage of glitches that will eventually get patched and when people get banned there they can’t easily get back in. The PC is a completely different environment and only a fool would try to treat it like a console, but that’s just what Infinity Ward has decided to do.

As a result of this fiasco I can not recommend people buy the PC version of this game no matter how amazing it is. Perhaps IW will come up with a fool-proof way of eliminating the cheaters in a more timely fashion, but until they do it’s just not worth the aggravation on the PC. As a long-time fan of the company I am deeply disappointed and my outlook isn’t helped by the almost complete lack of comment from the Infinity Ward people on the problem.

20 comments

  1. I have been waffling about purchasing the game, I had read the same reviews and decided to see what happens after launch. I see no reason to purchase the game at this point. I only game on PC and this saddens me. I was a huge fan of IW. Looks like COD4:MW1 is still the game to play (although, we are still waiting for a patch for play under Windows 7). Thanks for the heads up Les. Time to search for a different game.

  2. “I find it hard to believe there isn’t a single person on that development team who didn’t foresee this being a problem”

    No, I imagine it was likely brought up, but remember this line: “Instead they announced that MW2 would make use of a new matchmaking service they would be calling IWNet.” New service, sounds like it cuts server costs by eliminating a dedicated box. I would bet on internal dissenters being told to shut up b/c of somebody’s darling IWNet that thrilled bean counters.

  3. Two things:

    1. Yes, eventually the console version will be patched. But who knows when? The Javelin thing is spreading kind of like wildfire, and while there’s a patch going through for the 360, Sony doesn’t really care about it, for it’s system.
    2. From what I’ve heard, aren’t people already hardcore modifying the game, enabling console commands, leaning, and dedicated server support? You might not be able to play on “official” Steam, or IW servers, but if you modify the game enough to run your own, then you can let people play on it, how you want them to.

  4. I’d be amazed if they’re modding in their own dedicated servers, that’d be a hell of a feat unless the dev’s had already done the code but were simply told to leave it disabled.

    There was a similar fiasco over operation flashpoint 2 (i was suckered into this one as well)

    A few days before release they announced that there wouldn’t be dedicated servers, although the box art recommends it for online play, but stated that they would be releasing them later on due to the demand for it. A month later they flat out said ‘yeah we’re not doing this’ but only in a slightly less ceremonial way.

    Gentlemen, it’s time we face facts. We are the minority of gamers and have been for years. Because of the sucess of MW2 it’s just opened the way for developers to ignore us entirely.

    I wonder, can you get a keyboard and mouse for the 360?

  5. Marc, there has been some success by some folks in enabling the console and setting up dedicated servers on the PC version. It’s probably arguable whether or not they’re violating the DMCA in doing so. Considering how insistent IW is being about playing the game “the way they designed it to be played” I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re issuing take down notices for any dedicated servers being set up. Besides, I shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to use the game in a decent environment. IW should address the problem directly and give their fans what they want.

    Canis, I believe the Xbox 360, along with the PS3, have the ability to recognize and use USB keyboards and mice (and, in the case of the PS3, Bluetooth wireless ones). However the game has to be programmed to work with them and as far as I know MW2 doesn’t support keyboard/mouse on the consoles. Which is somewhat understandable as that would give the people who use them an unfair advantage against the folks using the control pads.

  6. So why are there so many griefers?

    Is this just the nature of humans?

    To have 25% of us end up as selfish, nasty little sociopaths?

  7. Legacy, that’s a good question and all I can say is there are some folks out there who live for nothing more than to ruin someone else’s day.

    Wired.com had an article about griefers last year that attempted to shed some light on why these assholes are the way they are:

    Pwnage, zerging, phat lewts — online gaming has birthed a rich lexicon. But none, perhaps, deserves our attention as much as the notion of the griefer. Broadly speaking, a griefer is an online version of the spoilsport — someone who takes pleasure in shattering the world of play itself. Not that griefers don’t like online games. It’s just that what they most enjoy about those games is making other players not enjoy them. They are corpse campers, noob baiters, kill stealers, ninja looters. Their work is complete when the victims log off in a huff.

    Griefing, as a term, dates to the late 1990s, when it was used to describe the willfully antisocial behaviors seen in early massively multiplayer games like Ultima Online and first-person shooters like Counter-Strike (fragging your own teammates, for instance, or repeatedly killing a player many levels below you). But even before it had a name, grieferlike behavior was familiar in prehistoric text-based virtual worlds like LambdaMOO, where joyriding invaders visited “virtual rape” and similar offenses on the local populace.

    While ^ban^ and his pals stand squarely in this tradition, they also stand for something new: the rise of organized griefing, grounded in online message-board communities and thick with in-jokes, code words, taboos, and an increasingly articulate sense of purpose. No longer just an isolated pathology, griefing has developed a full-fledged culture.

    The article is mostly about griefers in Second Life, but they exist in pretty much all games. Putting up with them is part of the price of playing online, but it’s not like they can’t be effectively limited in how much trouble they can cause. Being able to kick and ban them in FPS games keeps their numbers down and that’s why these decisions by Infinity Ward are such a cluster fuck.

  8. Just get the game for PS3 and be done with it. I know you said you have a hard time using the PS3 controller over mouse/keyboard, but I really, really sucked too. After dying a shit ton of times I eventually learned and got used to the controls. While there are hackers for the PS3 it hasn’t been a problem for me yet and this game rocks for online multiplay.

  9. Les — good rebuttal, and thanks for reading. If you buy the game, you should be able to do what you want with it, no “if’s” “and’s” or “but’s”. If IW is serious about this, then it’s just going to get chaotic and people will do whatever they want with the game, regardless of the consequences. IW (or Activision is more likely the case) should realize they’re only pissing people off with this nonsense. But, they’re a big company, and will never admit a mistake, lest it affect the bottom line, or make Bobby Kotick look like a fool.

  10. Webs, it’s more than just not being able to deal with aiming on the console pad (though that’s a big part of it). There’s something about FPS games on a console that gives me motion sickness. I don’t know if it’s the distance from the screen that I sit at compared to being right next to the PC monitor or just a lower frame rate, but about 20 mins in I get nauseous. I have the first Resistance game for the PS3 and I’ve never made it past the third level because I get sick and frustrated with the controls.

    Marc, from what I can tell all of these decisions were made by the developers at Infinity Ward. I’m not willing to go so far as to say you should be able to do ANYTHING you want with a title you’ve bought, but there is a certain logic to understanding your audience and giving them what they’re hoping for and have been getting for years.

  11. In my view, ever since Modern Warfare 2 hit consoles/PC, I believe that the whole ‘hardcore’ gamer has been shattered big time. With the exception of New Super Mario Bros Wii, MW2 sold more than any other game that month(NPD is due out later this week or next week). Furthermore, if you saw ether the Metacritic or the GameRankings, it seems to be in the high 80s, low 90s.

    So apparently, if there are harsh criticisms against Modern Warfare 2, how the heck is this game getting gerat reviews, and great sales?

  12. Udx, the game is getting great reviews because it’s a damned good game. My review probably won’t be any different as I enjoy the hell out of the game when I can find one that isn’t full of cheaters. It’s addictive as hell and is probably one of the better followups of the year.

    The problem with the PC version isn’t with the quality of the game, but the quality of the multiplayer experience which is one of the primary reasons to buy this game. The lack of either dedicated servers or the ability to call votes to kick troublemakers allows the cheaters and griefers to run wild. And you don’t necessarily have to cheat in order to grief.

    There was one asshole in one game I was playing last night that was doing everything he could short of cheating to harass his own team. Standing in front of the snipers, hopping up and down and shooting his gun next to anyone trying to sneak up on the other team, and generally making an ass of himself in voice chat. Had the option existed to vote to kick/ban him from the game it probably would’ve passed in seconds, but instead we had to put up with this asshole until he got bored and quit.

    When you add in the griefers who are also cheating, well, it just makes things that much worse.

  13. Les, I really wish you had realized this beforehand.

    It’s too late now and you’re just a +1 to those ridiculous sales figures for a game that can actually be considered “same ‘ol, same ‘ol” but yet less.

    Paying $60 for arguably what amounts to an expansion pack that strips out functionality is just ridiculous.

    I laughed hard when I read that IW was claiming there would be no cheaters in MW2 because they were using VAC… Really, VAC? The same anti-cheat used in Counter-Strike? Good luck with that.

    http://www.mapmodnews.com/images/library/image/mw2/CoD4%20Vs%20MW2%20PC%20comparison%20chart.png

    If this now famous image was reversed, I would be playing MW2 right as we speak (well maybe not on lunch).

  14. Seph, I didn’t buy the game as I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy. I may have put any future review copies at jeopardy by telling folks not to buy the PC version, but I felt strongly enough about it that I felt it had to be said.

    I disagree that it’s arguably an expansion pack. The game improves upon and expands in a lot of areas. It’s just a shame they wanted to get away with doing as little work porting it to the PC as the could manage.

  15. I bought it because everyone in my clan that said they weren’t going to ended up getting it.. The single biggest regret I have had since my gaming started 20+ years ago. The game is very nice looking but the multiplayer is beyond bad. I have had 1 game out of 20 be lag free. I am on a nice cable connection as well. This is the only MP I shooter I have lagged like this on.

    All I can say for IW is I hope they enjoy their new friends in the console world because the gamers that built them are all but through with them after this blunder.

    Bring on EA and Dice.. Who ever thought I would say that :)

  16. I’m glad I found this post. I just searched “MW2 hacks PC” within the last week. I needed to see if anyone else was still pissed.

    I wasn’t pissed when I bought this game. I had heard about all the PC upheaval, but I didn’t care. I’m new to PC gaming so it didn’t seem important. Now that I’ve played for a while I can say that the multiplayer in this game is shit. I’ve played TF2 and L4D2 since getting my PC, and I don’t find the multiplayer nearly as aggrivating . TF2 has a steep learning curb for a newb, but I don’t get shot by hackers in it. Or at least I never notice it.
    I know what to expect in a modern warfare game. You get shot all the time from people you didn’t see. I don’t mind that. It’s just when you get shot around a corner by someone who knows your coming. It’s when the top players are tripleing the av. score of the runner up’s. IW’s pompous attempts at PR is just salt in wound.

    I wish I could get a refund… Sucks when you’ve already bought the game. Those slimmy buggers got my money, now.

  17. I bet at least one person has said something stupid like, “Well now that there are no methods of dealing with these twats, they’ll stop being twats!”. Know how I know this? Because it’s the exact same fucking argument about gun control. Taking away the tools to defend ourselves won’t end our need to defend ourselves, you retarded jackoffs.

  18. Thanks for writing this.
    A really good summary of what many people think and feel now.
    For IW and Activision it’s all about revenue and guess they are happy at the moment.
    However the COD franchise is in jeopardy when people like us get so frustrated by cheaters that we just stop playing. Who is going to by the next COD or the expansion? Not me.

    Another frustrating thing is that there are really skilled players out there getting blamed for cheating when they just are very good. I admit I have blamed a few in error (sorry) but my point is that this only adds to the problem. It is so frustrating when you suspect a cheat, but it is not always easy to tell.

    So, with some luck there are people in IW and Activision reading blogs like this and analyzing the situation. My only fear is that they are looking at the WOW subscription model and this is the first step, to have full control over the servers.

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