Double Buffered

A Programmer’s View of Game Design, Development, and Culture

Why I’m Not Buying Modern Warfare 2

Posted by Ben Zeigler on November 11, 2009

I was a pretty big fan of Call of Duty 4. I wasn’t going to buy it originally, but a bunch of guys at work started regularly playing at lunch and convinced me to pick it up over Steam. I ended up really enjoying the single player (I still remember the emotional impact of a certain death scene), and played probably 60 hours or so of the multiplayer. It’s probably my second favorite recent FPS after Team Fortress 2, so I was really looking forward to Modern Warfare 2. But as the game has now been released, I’m not going to buy it. I’m not boycotting it or anything, it just turns out there’s never been a game I was actively interested in that presented so many compelling reasons for me to not buy it. Here’s just what I can think of off the top of my head:

  1. I like many games on console, but not FPSs. Too many years of mouse control and a lack of fine finger control mean I really can’t enjoy games like MW2 on a console. This was not a problem for the first game, though, as it had a perfectly good PC version
  2. I’ve experienced nothing but pain with peer-to-peer networked games on the PC. P2P works perfectly fine on a console because everyone has a standardized console and networking settings. On a PC, you have to deal with software firewalls, network drivers, and dedicated hackers. As a consequence any game that relies on P2P server hosting (like the disaster that was Demigod) is going to be  a pain to use. I much prefer the approach Valve took, with just providing a bunch of standardized dedicated servers for the community.
  3. 9 vs. 9 just isn’t enough players. I’ve never been a fan of 32 vs. 32 clusters, but personally I find 12 vs. 12 to be my favorite size of match, going back to how I used to play Counterstrike. Even given the change to P2P hosting, I don’t see why larger matches couldn’t be optionally allowed
  4. Hardcore is mode I enjoy playing the most. You now can’t play hardcore mode at all until you unlock it at a certain level. Ugh.
  5. I’m way too busy playing Dragon Age right now. Damn that game is good.
  6. Even if I wanted to buy it now, I actually can’t. For some bizarre reason the Steam-distributed version of MW2 isn’t out until Thursday. The stupid part is that the retail PC version came out today and uses all of the same steam-based authentication as the digital version. Huh? Someone screwed up somewhere, and this doesn’t make me very confident about the support for the digital version.
  7. The F.A.G.S. promo video. What the hell was Infinity Ward thinking? I don’t want to consume the product of a company that is either willfully offensive or just incredibly stupid. I’m still confused by what they were trying to do with this one.
  8. Ignoring IW.net, is the PC version a direct port of the console version?
    Mackey-IW: No, PC has custom stuff like mouse control, text chat in game, and graphics settings.” Those are some pretty awesome custom features! Wish I was making this one up.
  9. Activision/Infinity Ward has been ridiculously secretive about the game. There’s been no demo (which was especially needed on PC because of the changes to networking), and they only released the review embargo AFTER the game was already on sale. When movie studios do this it’s because a film is crap, but in this case it’s being done to artificially raise early review scores (previous example being GTA 4, which did the exact same thing). The people running this game are obsessed with controlling information and access to the game, and that does not make me feel very invited as a player.
  10. It’s $60. The original Modern Warfare, and essentially all PC games for the last 10 years, was $50 new. Activision has decided that MW2 is objectively better than all other PC games including it’s prequel, and thus we should be HAPPY to have to pay more. As I’ve said before this isn’t how pricing works. As soon as a game is over $30 or so (conveniently the price of a Borderlands and L4D2 4 pack), I personally feel an urge to do a value calculation. It’s normally a bit tricky, but paying $10 more for a game that has significantly FEWER features that matter to me is just a bad idea.

To be honest I don’t even care about most of the things the hardcore PC FPS community cares about (I don’t love server browsers, and never used any of the crazier options like FOV control or server mods), but I could easily come up with 10 different reasons to not buy this game. The only plausible explanation I can think of for this strategy is that someone at Activision or Infinity Ward has been wanting to prove that the PC market is dead, and decided to use this game as an example. When the thing fails to sell on PC (I don’t know anyone who’s picked it up on PC yet), they’ll then be able to point at the sales and exclaim “See! I knew it wouldn’t sell!”. It’s not just laziness, because they could have easily just done a direct modification of the PC part of MW1 and I would be perfectly happy. This is a conscious decision on someone’s part, and if they don’t want me to play their game I guess I’ll have to oblige. I may pick it up if it drops to $30 on a Steam sale, but there is no way I am paying $60 for an inferior sequel to an excellent game I already own.

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2 Responses to “Why I’m Not Buying Modern Warfare 2”

  1. evizaer said

    I feel similarly to you. I really enjoyed CoD4, except for some quibbles I have with the advancement ssytem.The game looks fun from some gameplay videos that I saw on youtube, but I absolutely refuse to pay $60 for a downtrodden PC version that probably isn’t even worth $40.

  2. tim said

    your missing out big time

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