View From the Road

A View From the Road: Unreasonably Dedicated

John Funk | 9 Nov 2009 21:00
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We can scream all we want about how Call of Duty originated as a PC franchise, and how Infinity Ward owes us everything, but it doesn't change the numbers. It doesn't change the fact that the PC version had fewer preorders on Amazon.com than either the PS3 or Xbox 360 version (even factoring in the dedicated servers backlash). It doesn't change the fact that IW reps have admitted that the PC - and the hardcore subsection within the PC market, to be precise - is their smallest base of users. PC gaming is certainly not dying (despite what doomsayers have been saying for oh, about a decade now) but it is less dominant and less relevant than it used to be if you're not making easy-access games for the casual market, and it's high time that we accepted that.

Many developers do make games for the love of the medium, but at the end of the day, Infinity Ward and companies like it have bills to pay and their employees have families to feed. So what sense does it possibly make to allocate extra time, money, and manpower to their smallest fanbase, which is coincidentally the group most likely to pirate the game anyway? While I have no doubt that there will be more pirates out there in a misguided attempt to "stick it to the man," you can't tell me that the game wouldn't have been pirated to high hell and back even with dedicated server support - the first game certainly was.

Infinity Ward isn't blameless here, of course. Beyond axing the dedicated server support in the first place, company reps tried a strange song-and-dance routine where they pretended like this was a change made solely with the benefit of the gamer in mind, and even the most rational-minded PC gamer doesn't like having people try to yank the wool down over his eyes. This is a case where flat honestly may have been the best policy, and what was intended to calm the masses ended up just throwing fuel on a particularly bitter flame.

But this isn't just Infinity Ward's problem. If we PC gamers can't accept the fact that our platform of choice may be versatile and powerful, but in the end is just a platform like any other, then it only hurts us in the end. There's a difference between complaining about a PC title that is genuinely inferior to consoles (for a recent example, see multiplayer in Borderlands) and a PC version that's merely "not better enough." It's one thing to demand something from companies for whom the PC is their sole market, it's another thing entirely to demand that developers who make games for multiple platforms treat us as their favored children just because we aren't console gamers. The louder we scream, the less likely anybody is to pay attention to what we're actually saying through the din, and the more likely we are to garner opposition based on mere principle alone.

Now, by all means, return to your regularly scheduled protests, but remember that the most powerful protest tool at your disposal is your wallet. If it infuriates you so much, don't buy the game. Don't be a tool and pirate it - that just gives developers more reason to flee the PC platform entirely - but a refusal to purchase will speak louder than angry internet rants ever could.

But whatever you do, just ... lose the attitude. You're making the rest of us look bad.

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