Modern Warfare 2’s Failure

By all accounts, Modern Warfare 2 is an astonishing success. In fact, it could be the most successful entertainment product in history (not just games; all entertainment). But, there is one resoundingly bad decision that indicates to me that Infinity Ward either has no understanding of what makes a good multiplayer FPS on the PC, or that they simply don’t care about multiplayer on the PC.

There are no dedicated servers.

That’s right, you can’t host a dedicated server. They don’t host dedicated servers, either. You can either intentionally join up with people you know (organizing it on your own) or use a matchmaking system similar to what you see on consoles, which is hosted peer-to-peer.

Most arguments that I’ve seen that call for dedicated servers feature anti-cheat capabilities as the main reason to provide them. Some argue that it sucks that you can’t create mods for the game, or that 9 vs. 9 is too limiting. I don’t care about any of these things.

What is my argument for providing dedicated servers? Communities. Dedicated servers provide a place for people to gather and form communities.

When I fire up Team Fortress 2, I always see look at my favorites list and see if the voogru server is populated. It usually is, and generally has several of the same core group of players on at any given time.

I recognize Thief -V- when I see him, and people recognize [38]Blackguard when they see me. There is a community there. We’ve formed a bond. I’m much more attached to TF2 and that server than I’ve ever been to console games like Halo 3 (or any other game that uses matchmaking) because I have a place to go.

The voogru Team Fortress 2 server is my virtual Cheers, where everybody knows my name, and they’re always glad I came.

So if Team Fortress 2’s voogru dedicated server is my Cheers, what is Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer to me? Let’s keep up with the restaurant metaphor…

I love burritos. They are my favorite food. My favorite place to regularly get burritos is Qdoba in Shrewsbury, MA. I go there about twice a month, and the people who work there know me. I also go with friends from 38 Studios on most of those visits. But that’s not what Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer is like.

Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer is like the Qdoba in Boston, MA. I was on my way to pick someone up from the airport and found out their arrival was delayed. So, I took a detour and went to a Qdoba I never go to. It was still familiar. It was the same food. I ordered the same thing I always get at any Qdoba. The experience was quite similar. But nobody recognized me, and I didn’t recognize anyone. There was no familiarity with the people, just the place.

Modern Warfare 2’s matchmaking service is my virtual Qdoba, where everybody knows the game, and they’re having fun all the same.

Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer provides familiarity with the experience, but not with the people. It’s the social bond that takes a multiplayer FPS to the next level, and the only way to achieve that is with dedicated servers.

10 Responses to "Modern Warfare 2’s Failure"

  1. Leave it to you, Ryan, to make a video game analogy using food.

  2. I never liked the way Left 4 Dead did servers either, but maybe I just never noticed the options there. It always felt like a random toss together, and on versus mode, you did not find out who or what you were until after a few minutes of connecting and loading. It’s so simple that it is cumbersome to get what you want.

  3. Left 4 Dead doesn’t bother me. It’s a linear game that is meant to be played by 4 people cooperatively. It makes sense to use a matchmaking system as the fallback to friends intentionally grouping together–you have to have Steam to play the game, so you have the built-in Friends list to get together with a group. And, since it’s linear, having an always-up server doesn’t really work.

  4. I actually play a 4 vs. 4 L4D game every night with some friends. We know that there are dedicated servers (I can read here a “Best dedicated server available” option), but as far as I can see, there is no way to select which one you are going to connect to.

    Some servers have modified lightly the gameplay (for example, Smokers would be able to release a player once they have trapped them, which gives them some interesting strategic choices), and we found that we liked those modifications, but we are not able to connect to them. I would say that this is another reason to have dedicated servers, not only grouping people, but providing them with their special, customized playground.

  5. rcw003

    I agree 100%, Community is where its at. I would argue that cultivating a strong community benefits the game studios as much as the user of the software. The user gains an avenue to new social connections, a sense of familiarity, and something to do with those you care about. With a strong and growing community, the studio now becomes a powerful gate keeper. Any company that wants to market products and services to this focused community, must do so through the manager of the community. But as the old adage goes, with great power comes great responsibility. The “gate keeper” must ensure that his community is marketed to in a respectful manor, or risk losing some of the community, and in turn losing corporate interest and revenue.

  6. rcw003

    :lol: – manor == manner my mind must have went from Spiderman to Batman and Wayne’s Manor…….my mistake.

  7. First off if you really don’t like it move on. Your whining will not change the game. As for the rest of us we are playing it just fine and having a blast doing it. In one sentence you all cry about the Multiplayer then in the next breath whine because of the single player and the online saving. Most of the ones crying here are the ones who downloaded COD4 illegally and playing on cracked servers and are pissed that Steam and IW have taken that away. You are the minority and despite your belly aching MW2 is a great success and if your one of the stupid sheep who are thinking of following these tards you will miss out on some great fun and a great game.

  8. I’m not sure why you think I am whining. I also never said I wouldn’t get Modern Warfare 2. However, without dedicated servers, I won’t get much out of the game, so I’m waiting until it’s $30-$40 to buy it.

  9. @Crash: You’ll have to try much harder if you want to become a real grown up blog troll, amigo :)

  10. mya$$

    The company that runs PC version of MW2 is Steam. They do not specialize, i repeat DO NOT SPECIALIZE, in anti hack research. Their so called Valve anti cheat does nothing to prevent hacking and is has been proven from time to time. I have over 12+ friends who play MW2 and 45+ clan members who play MW2, veterans of COD series, and a lot of them use hacks. NONE OF THEM HAVE EVER BEEN BANNED. Even after then 2500+ so called banned hackers announcements my friends and clan members are still out and hacking. Many of us might play as if we have no hacks. Its general courtesy towards non-hackers but face it. Hackers eventually come across another hacker. Now MW2 turns into a game where the team with the best hackers wins. If you play MW2 long enough you will eventually find such a game where the hackers are going all out killing.

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