Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why the Modern Warfare 2 uproar is dumb, but not for the reasons you think

Also why voting with one's wallet presents quantization issues 

Here's a letter I sent to Tycho of Penny Arcade after reading his comment on the whole MW2 mess. I didn't much care one way or the other before, but his attitude - specifically with him being an avowed PC enthusiast - caused me to form a concrete opinion. (I later realized the prose is a bit ornate, but since it's Tycho I find it completely appropriate.)

Still a big fan of this teaser. Infinity Ward are artists and artisans. 

Here's the thing: a lot of really big game makers create PC games with server browsers and dedicated servers and all that. It's not unreasonable to expect Infinity Ward to follow suit - what is unreasonable is the degree of fanaticism, malice and paranoia present in the uproar. This is wrong not in relation to the game, but as a signifier of the introversion of the PC gaming community. One game is irrelevant, but this type of nonconstructive response might lead to a future PC platform inundated with console-like games, as the developers abandon the community entirely.

I like my PC games. I like mods and user-created content and server browsers. It may be whiny to complain when we're disallowed them, but it would be disingenuous to pretend I don't care. I don't spew hate on gaming forums though, because it won't change much. I will vote with my wallet however, but it saddens me to be forced to do so, because it robs me of an opportunity to wholeheartedly support the inclusion of Steamworks in the game, hopefully a sign of a coming trend*. How can I condemn one and praise the other? There's but a single box and single price. How could the developers ever know what my reasons were, whatever the decision?

One last bit: You imply that PC gamers are lashing out because they feel betrayed, their platform of choice abandoned. You have no sympathy for such an emotional response to a foregone conclusion, but I do. It always hurts when someone you love (however superficially and transitively) tells you they don't much care about you, and in fact would much rather court that cute young demographic from down the hall. It doesn't hurt less just because many others before them said the same thing. Perhaps I'm being naïve though. I do condemn the methods, but I can't not sympathize with the emotions behind them.

* I'm aware of the hypocrisy of lauding one type of consolization of the PC platform while decrying another, but I firmly believe that Steam represents most of the best bits of the console experience, while avoiding most of the worst. I can't honestly say the same about some parts of Modern Warfare 2.

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