Alright. Time to weigh in on an issue I hadn't expected to take a side in. This week is pretty much gonna be all talk about Modern Warfare 2, and we're going to start off with an issue that is NOT near and dear to my heart- dedicated servers.
Why is it not near and dear? I'm a console gamer. I play PC when I have to, but I really dislike it as a gaming platform. And so trust me that I am not being a rabid reactionist PC fanboy when I say that Infinity Ward really kicked the PC community in the balls with their IWnet decision. Unlike some people, I think that IW is within their rights to do so, even if it is a very uncool move. I don't think they owe it to PC gamers to add dedicated server support. I just think of it as a Dick Move. Caps necessary there.
Okay, let's start an unbiased analysis of what dedicated servers do that IWnet can't. One, they are faster. This is just fact- dedicated servers use business-speed internet lines and have all their processing power dedicated to hosting the game. IWnet uses client hosting- someone playing the game is chosen as the host. That means that it's someone on a resident-speed internet line, which is inherently slower, and who is using their processing power for any number of things- firewall, antivirus, autoupdater, a bunch of things, and also playing the game as well, not just hosting it. In addition, the host has a ping of zero- has absolutely no lag or reaction time other than his human limits. It is the other players on the server who suffer if he has a shitty connection.
Two, they are communities. The only real PC game I play anymore (besides old stuff and WoW) is Team Fortress 2. I play it a decent amount, because it just has more content than the 360 version (which I owned before I gave up on waiting for Valve to port the content and bought the PC version [dammit Valve!]). Even with as little as I play Team Fortress 2, I have a casual guild I am a part of, with our own dedicated server. We hang out together, play a few friendly matches. I have servers marked as favorites for their community, too- one server that does a great custom CTF map where everyone is polite and talkative, one server that has some really intense arena play, one server where people just goof off. The permanancy of a dedicated server is as important as its speed- dedicated servers have an identity, and lend identity to those who play on them. There are good servers, there are bad servers, there are hardcore servers, there are casual servers. Being able to choose these is very important.
And third... mods. That's all I have to say. One of the biggest driving forces in PC gaming, one of the biggest reasons people choose PCs over consoles, is the capacity for mods. Mods can subtly modify your experience (alter the UI, change an annoying sound effect), or completely revamp it- new maps, new weapons, an entirely different GAME. Modern PC gaming is BUILT on modding- Battlefield 2 came to be because of the excellent Desert Combat. Counter-Strike was a mod that went commercial. So was Team Fortress. Killing modding could well kill the PC as a platform- not entirely, of course, but certainly reduce it to a shell of its former self.
Is that the goal, IW? No, seriously, is that the goal? PC gaming has been an unpleasant business for a while- pirating, hacking, hardware compatibility. It is a LOT more work than consoles, and a lot of developers have decided it's not worth it. Is IW trying to either bow out of PC gaming, or trying to change it to be... easier?
I hope not. For every arrogant PC gamer pissant, there are the guys who name themselves as boxers in TF2, and run around as Heavys, punching people who are wielding far superior weapons just because they can. I love those people. In fact, I am one of those people.
Fun fact, actually. One time, I was doing that with the name "Lennox Lewis" and I dominated "Mike Tyson". Irony!
"Evander Holyfield" was kinda kicking my ass though.