Console games have been $60 for four years now, but that’s only because the platforms are controlled by two companies who agreed on standards. Although the PC platform has no such governing entities, most of this year’s major releases have adhered to the normal $50 price for standard editions (including Prototype, an Activision game), and some games have been even cheaper. Burnout Paradise, Bionic Commando, Street Fighter IV, and Red Faction Guerrilla launched at $40 on PC. With the market being stable and skewing toward cheaper games, $60 for the standard edition of a game is uncalled for, except by greed.
I admit that PC gaming could stand to be simpler and more accessible, but we shouldn’t let Activision’s PR blow the issue out of proportion: it isn’t that hard to find and join a server in a server browser. Regardless, there is no technical reason to choose one over the other, and this is a point that I think many people have failed to acknowledge: matchmaking and dedicated servers can co-exist. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Unreal Tournament 3, Left 4 Dead, and World in Conflict are examples of this. Infinity Ward and Activision’s motivator isn’t accessibility, it’s money. The closed ecosystem will not only enable them to sell maps to PC players, but it could also allow them to sell dedicated servers to players directly — such a move would be anti-competitive toward the third-party dedicated hosting services. They haven’t done this yet, of course, but it’s the next logical step in their mission to monetize multiplayer. It’s what their numerous decisions against PC culture have led me to fear.
I haven’t seen the scene, and unless some of the things I discussed above change, I will probably never play it, but I have observed and considered the criticisms of others. I’m fine with this scene existing. It has a right to. Video games are products of collaboration, but they’re also products of creative expression; they are art. There’s good art, bad art, and art that we just don’t care for, but art deserves to exist and shouldn’t be stifled, and from this is where my issue with it stems. As I understand it, before the scene begins, players are asked if they want to skip it. I don’t know why this choice exists — whether it’s pressure from Activision, a compromise with the ESRB, or simply Infinity Ward being courteous — but this choice indicates uncertainty on someone’s part. If they’re including the scene, I would rather they commit.
Were I to play it, I’m sure I would enjoy Modern Warfare 2 , but I can’t endorse Infinity Ward and Activision’s decisions with my money. I wish I could be playing Modern Warfare 2 rather than writing this post, but, such as it is, here I am.