Has Infinity Ward Contracted Consolitis?

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I was stunned after reading the headline. I thought to myself – no, how could this be? Infinity Ward can’t be this stupid. I read an article but I wasn’t satisfied. I had to listen to the Bash and Slash podcast for myself, to hear the words come out of Robert Bowling’s mouth. "You’re completely reliant on IWNET. There’s no dedicated servers or server list." Bowling dropped the bombshell and all the hosts on the show went silent.  Flurries of thoughts ran through my head but at the time I was just hoping that maybe this guy just didn’t know what he was talking about; he’s PR after all and admitted during the podcast that he didn’t have all the details on IWNET; this brand new thing that will apparently grow and evolve. 

After the news broke I waited, along with the rest of the community, for Bowling to get over jetlag after his flight from Amsterdam back to the US. It seemed to take forever but finally, an article appeared on Tuesday on GameInformer and then a more detailed post appeared on his blog later the same day. However, it’s very clear that Bowling and Infinity Ward must be completely out of touch with the community or else someone (at Activision) is forcing them in this new direction. It’s such an inexplicable turn in the opposite direction from the strategy and planning that went into the original "Modern Warfare." A few threads have been created on the Infinity Ward message boards pointing out an interview with Grant Collier from 2007, in which he explains how the company worked to make the original game the best it could be for each platform. The really infuriating item that most people point out is the Bowling interview with Shacknews at the end of September. Take a look for yourself:

Shack: By the way, have you changed the way multiplayer games function on the PC at all?
 
Robert Bowling: PC will be the same as it always was.
 
Shack: LAN support as well?
 
Robert Bowling: LAN support, yes.

How could there have been such a radical change in less than a month?! Was Bowling misinfomed? Even worse, was he straight out lying? Infinity Ward certainly couldn’t have created IWNET in last ~3 weeks.

Multiplayer made “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” on the PC and it was a blast; it still is for many players. I actually didn’t buy the game immediately after its release, only few months later after seeing how great the multiplayer was. Single-player was a great experience, but at around 6 hours it was extremely short. To me, the multiplayer made the game worth the cost; if the original had only been single-player I would have scoffed the game off as ridiculous.  With the upcoming sequel at $60 and now with no dedicated server support, it’s no wonder that the PC community feels threatened. 

Backed into a corner

The PC gaming community has been poked and prodded with different experiments over the past several years and I’d say a good majority of game publishers and several developers have been neglecting the platform in general. The people that are laughing off this uproar don’t understand what the community is all about and are probably just unfamiliar with PC multiplayer. Online multiplayer was born and defined on the PC platform. If you look back at all of the hugely successful multiplayer games of the past, it seems like dedicated servers, clans, and tournaments have existed from the beginning. Games also used to be developed for the PC first but now it seems like most franchises are developed for the consoles, and then later ported to the PC (the complete opposite). Not only do PC gamers often get stuck with a several month delay, it also seems like the quality of these ports is never up to par; whether it be the graphics, controls, design/structure, etc.

Everyone knows the story. Whether it be the small retail shelf space that’s currently reserved for PC games, or the tiny or even non-existent PC logo in advertisements, or Games for Windows Live – it seems like everyone is trying to shun the PC gamer or transform our experience into "the console version" and the majority of us don’t like or want any part of it. This is the underlying sentiment within the community and it’s why so many people are pissed off – it’s not just "Modern Warfare 2," people in the community needed an opportunity to vent this frustration; and the perfect example arose. We are seeing the community bare its teeth.

How not to manage a community

Robert Bowling obviously doesn’t deserve the majority of the blame for this news, and I think the community should stop targeting him immediately (I’ve heard and read some pretty nasty things). At the same time though, I can’t say the "community manager" is doing a very good job. There are still an enormous amount of questions about IWNET and how it works. I actually compiled a small list of the questions I’ve seen repeated the most and posted it in our news. Here they are again:

  • Is IWNET composed of dedicated servers around the world or is multiplayer pure P2P play? In either situation, how will players in smaller countries be supported?
  • If there are no IW servers then why the premium $60 price? We’ve learned that the single-player portion of the game will be around the same length as the first, and now with less features than the previous installment it’s difficult not to see this as paying more for much less.
  • Is LAN play supported? Bowling said it would be in the Shack interview but who knows now.
  • How will tournament play be supported?

Answers to these questions won’t necessarily calm the community down but some clarification would help a lot at this point. I think it would be great if Infinity Ward could have a couple of the developers do a video or write an article on what exactly IWNET is all about. Instead, all we’ve received so far are vague details from a PR rep, and Bowling just isn’t getting us the information that we want within a reasonable amount of time; all these questions appear and on forums and in comments throughout the web but his blog sits there without any new updates to address them.

A compromise is in order

Online petitions always seem to be a bit of a sham but in this case, 140,000+ signatures seems like quite a lot of activity since the dreadful announcement last weekend. As soon as I realized that Infinity Ward was serious about IWNET, I immediately signed it and would encourage the community to do so as well. Infinity Ward’s decision isn’t just a strike at "Modern Warfare" fans, it’s really a blow to the entire community. If the company goes on with its decision and continues to ignore us, who knows what other companies might follow; consolitis could go viral.

We don’t know exactly what IWNET is or will be capable of, but Infinity Ward’s silence raises significant doubt. Most are concluding that mutiplayer in "Modern Warfare 2" multiplayer will only be P2P and if it is, Activision would be smart do delay the game on the PC or promise dedicated server support in a future patch. It’s not that we can’t accept matchmaking, the problem is that we want a choice to play on the dedicated servers as well. It’s how the multiplayer community on the PC was formed and every major multiplayer franchise has been supported by the community in an almost seamless harmony that works great for gamers around the world. We don’t want to be limited by home connections; computer gamers demand low pings and servers with high specs. We’re a performance driven bunch, which is one of the primary reasons we don’t game on consoles. If Infinity Ward and Activision make no changes, and multiplayer turns out to be as bad as we’re currently expecting, they can expect low review scores and a revenue hit – they can’t just ignore us.

 

5 Responses to Has Infinity Ward Contracted Consolitis?

  1. dfwhippet says:

    Great article – thanks for putting the concerns of the PC gaming community so succinctly.

    IW (or maybe Activision) mustn't be allowed to get away with this.

  2. encryption767 says:

    Thank you for writing this up. Was a great read and has that ring of truth to it. PC gamers are getting sick of getting pushed around by these companies and thier better ideals. EA has even had to go to court over some of thier better ideals. Also I am personally getting sick of hearing the PC community pirates this or that and knowing that there is just the same or bigger numbers of people downloading ps1 – 3 games and xbox and xbox 360 games.

    This shit is getting old fast. And I do agree that PC gamers have been building up anger over all and now that one of the same companies that has given PC gamers such great support not even 2 or 3 months ago just suddenly decides they want to throw 80% or more of that community out the door with the trash. Doesnt even make sense that console gamers dont have dedicated servers in thier games and makes even less sense for a PC game not to have it either and Epic games proved with UT3 that the console communities could even benifit from the modders and mappers in the PC community or at least over the PSN. You damn right I have an axe to grind and so should others.

  3. jackhanigan says:

    Their excuse for this stupid IWNET pos is to eliminate hackers, when they are going to use VAC, LOL! contradiction? I have barely encountered hackers in cod4 or any other game, but a fair few in counterstrike source, and most of the hackers in cod 4 or other punkbuster games do it obvious like getting 50 killstreak.

    And the CEO bobby kotick (he doesnt deserve my caps lock) is just jewish, wanting to increase the price of games and focusing on games like guitar hero where there is more potential for $$$ with dlc and future content.

  4. rudedog says:

    As one of the hosts on BashandSlash as well as the only PC only representative invited out to the IW XBox event last month. All I can add is why wasn't this game changing (no pun intended) news announced 6-8 months ago? If IWnet was so important to IW, then they should have told us last spring, so there would have been enough time to convince us into thinking that IWnet is the right choice for PC customers wanting the best multi player experience.

    Then you have to ask yourself, where is all the information, screen shots, in game video as well as answers to all the questions raised by their PC community since they announced this news?

    Last but not least, there is the issue of what has Rob Bowling(402) been doing to interact with their PC customers these past few years? I can say that at the PC community event for CoD 4 Modern Warfare, a few years back, before the game was released. He was only around to say hi and then vanished. While Grant Collier hung out for the whole community event talking to us and answer all our questions, Rob was no where to be found. I've asked this before but where has Rob been in relation to the PC customer these past two years after Modern Warfare 1 was released? I can only imagine what information he is relaying to producers of Modern Warfare 2, for the PC. Who exactly did they talk to about IWnet, who attended this so called PC focus group if they had one. There are so many unanswered questions and they expect us to run out and buy this game without informing us of what is going on.

    My only guess (my personal opinion and I hope I'm wrong) is this is IW's PC exit strategy. If true, sorry to see you go IW but there are other devs who support their PC customers by not cannibalizing our platform of choice.

    We'll be talking more about this, the leaked PS3 footage as well as anything else regarding MW2 this week on Saturday's Bashandslash podcast.

    Jim Landi
    Rudedog
    FPSadmin.com
    Microsoft MVP, Games for Windows

  5. rudedog says:

    As one of the hosts on BashandSlash as well as the only PC only representative invited out to the IW XBox event last month. All I can add is why wasn't this game changing (no pun intended) news announced 6-8 months ago? If IWnet was so important to IW, then they should have told us last spring, so there would have been enough time to convince us into thinking that IWnet is the right choice for PC customers wanting the best multi player experience.

    Then you have to ask yourself, where is all the information, screen shots, in game video as well as answers to all the questions raised by their PC community since they announced this news?

    Last but not least, there is the issue of what has Rob Bowling(402) been doing to interact with their PC customers these past few years? I can say that at the PC community event for CoD 4 Modern Warfare, a few years back, before the game was released. He was only around to say hi and then vanished. While Grant Collier hung out for the whole community event talking to us and answer all our questions, Rob was no where to be found. I've asked this before but where has Rob been in relation to the PC customer these past two years after Modern Warfare 1 was released? I can only imagine what information he is relaying to producers of Modern Warfare 2, for the PC. Who exactly did they talk to about IWnet, who attended this so called PC focus group if they had one. There are so many unanswered questions and they expect us to run out and buy this game without informing us of what is going on.

    My only guess (my personal opinion and I hope I'm wrong) is this is IW's PC exit strategy. If true, sorry to see you go IW but there are other devs who support their PC customers by not cannibalizing our platform of choice.

    We'll be talking more about this, the leaked PS3 footage as well as anything else regarding MW2 this week on Saturday's Bashandslash podcast.

    Jim Landi
    Rudedog
    FPSadmin.com
    Microsoft MVP, Games for Windows

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