Bigredcoat

Videogames, politics, science, all the important things in life.

Good Willl Hurting

Posted by nfinit on October 26, 2009

No one likes being told something is happening “for their own good”.

It’s condescending.  It’s patronizing.  The implication is that the person being spoken to is incapable of making their own decisions.  Usually these words are uttered right before medical personnel are about to perform an outstandingly painful procedure upon your person.  In most other cases, it’s complete bullshit.  In any event, the words “it’s for your own good” never  results in something good happening to the person being spoken to.
Yet this is exactly what Infinity Ward’s Community Relations Manager Robert Bowling has been tasked to tell PC gamers.  The removal of dedicated servers in favor of Infinity Ward’s closed, console-like system is for their own good.  Finding servers, the PC community has been asked to believe, is hard.
Now gamers aren’t, as a rule, naive.  Our hobby demands building an intimate relationship with psychotic multi billion dollar corporations; we know when we’re about to get fucked.  If Infinity Ward had just said “hey, piracy sucks and if you want us to keep PC games this is the way it’s gotta be” then people would probably be more willing to give Infinity Ward the benefit of the doubt.  No one’s going to argue in favor of piracy  But they didn’t do that.  We were told, in essence, “finding servers is unfair for some and whatnot”

Which, okay– they have a point.  It’s discouraging to open up a server list and be presented with a litany of server types and hosts without any way of knowing the quality of servers or who they’re playing against.  But is shutting down public servers the answer?  Is there any intrinsic reason why the operation of private servers owned and operated by Infinity Ward would require the shutdown of public servers?  If the public found Infinity Ward’s system compelling and easy to use, wouldn’t they migrate over there anyway?  Then you could take those numbers and point to them to use as an excuse to shut down public servers for Call of Duty 7: Modern Warfare 2 Part 2.

And who knows, maybe Infinity Ward is telling the truth.  Maybe their intentions are entirely altruistic and not related to a to sell PC gamers downloadable content or to facilitate moving gamers over to the next CoD game by shutting down Modern Warfare 2 servers.  Maybe we should be taking their issues at face value, no matter how flimsy their rationale may sound  Problem is, Infinity Ward is owned by this guy:

No one trusts Bobby Kotik, not even his own employees, and as a result no one trusts anything that comes out of his properties.  He’s on the record as saying he wishes to make game development as joyless as prospect as possible, that he’s focused on The Bottom Line above all other concerns, that games are actually over-valued.  The fact that Activision is selling Tony Hawk: Ride, Band Hero, Guitar Hero V and DJ Hero– all $120+ packages– this holiday season only serves to enforce this message among gamers.  And let’s not forget that Infinity Ward is asking PC gamers to pay the $10 HD console tax that cropped up with the Xbox 360.  Not only are PC gamers being told to make do with fewer options, they’re being asked to pay sixty bucks for the privilege of doing so.

My question is, now that we know Infinity Ward is not immune to Activision corporate meddling, where does this leave Blizzard?  Yeah, World of Warcraft is a money cow.  So is/was Call of Duty.  If Infnity Ward isn’t sacrosanct within the halls of Activision, neither is Blizzard.  We already know Starcraft is being sold in a three-box set, the full game will cost you between $150-180, depending on if Activision can get the console tax to stick to PC releases (and Activision being Activision, you know they will).  This is very much in line with the Guitar Hero model.  Also, Blizzard has been willing to sell services on WoW Blizzard has previously been skittish about implementing, services such as cross-server character transfers and faction switches.  Before we thought this was just Blizzard testing their market but now you have to wonder.  More importantly, you have to wonder where it stops.

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