Last year, Modern Warfare 2 attempted to permanently pull the plug on dedicated servers. “Bad Infinity Ward! Bad!” PC gamers shouted in response. “Don’t make us roll up this Internet petition and hit you on the nose with it!” Fortunately, Treyarch is not Infinity Ward. Treyarch has apparently played a multiplayer PC game before.
"I think dedicated servers are excellent. I don't see any reason not to [include] them unless... well, I just don't see any reason not to,” said Treyarch studio head Mark Lamia.
"We do work very hard to reconcile the desire to manipulate and modify those dedicated servers with offering them the persistent experience and benefits that the console system provides,” he added.
So best of both worlds, basically. Which is a good thing, because we really don’t know how to Internet petition harder than we did last time – short of tying it to a brick, throwing it through a window, and kidnapping/hoping it hits Activision president Bobby Kotick. Which would be fun, admittedly, but if Bobby Kotick fires men who make him billions of dollars, just think about what he’d do to kidnappers. Yeah.
“Continued defections from their Infinity Ward studio have created meaningful uncertainty around the future of their Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise," Hickey said.
"We expect Infinity Ward studio will be essentially closed after their next map pack release, with development work on Modern Warfare 3 spread between two studios not historically tied to the franchise.”
As of last count, more than 30 employees have departed from Infinity Ward within the last month or so – many of whom resurfaced at former IW heads Jason West and Vince Zampella’s Respawn Entertainment a short while later.
Thus far, there’s been nothing but radio silence as far as the next Modern Warfare 2 map pack goes. It is, however, in the works, according to Activision.
So, for now, Infinity Ward soldiers on. With the developer beheaded and rapidly bleeding employees, though, we're not sure scrambling for cover and waiting a few seconds for the strawberry jelly to disappear from their screen is going to work this time.
They may have lost their jobs and their possibly-the-most-successful-videogame-franchise-in-history, but former Infinity Ward bosses Jason West and Vince Zampella are getting right back on the horse. Dubbing their new endeavor Respawn Entertainment, the two have hopped into bed with former rival Electronic Arts.
“For the past decade we led a great development team and poured our hearts into creating an epic game franchise,” said Zampella. “. We’re very proud of what we built – and proud that so many millions of fans enjoyed those games. Today we hope to do it all over again — open a new studio, hire a great team, and create brand new games with a new partner, EA.”
“Now that the team is in control of the games and brands, we can ensure that the fans are treated as well as they deserve,” added West.
On a – we’re sure – totally unrelated note, no less than eight veteran Infinity Ward employees have left the rapidly deflating developer within the past week. We can’t even begin to imagine where they might be going.
Seeing Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” on its opening night was a surprisingly illuminating experience for me. For one, I learned that – in my case, at least – introspection and trying to not get trampled by an ocean-like mass of 200 some-odd frothing, cosplaying fans are activities that go hand-in-hand. But as I watched/avoided becoming a doormat for a bunch of Wonderland wannabes, I realized something else: these people didn’t brave the cold (and the dark corners of their parents’ closets) because of their undying love for the timeless tale of Alice and her oddball companions. They did it because Tim Burton’s name was attached to the film. It could have been Tim Burton’s “Barney the Dinosaur” and they’d all have donned purple dinosaur costumes in a heartbeat.
I highly doubt that Infinity Ward’s planned not-Modern Warfare 3 project would’ve been received with such open arms. And evidently, so does Activision.
After all, former Infinity Ward bosses Jason West and Vince Zampella felt so creatively confined as to allegedly defy their contract with Activision and start making eyes EA, so clearly someone wasn’t exactly gung-ho about the Call of Duty creator’s bold new direction. Knowing Infinity Ward, though, regardless of the form the new project took, it probably would’ve been a fantastic game. So what gives? Well, at this point, I can only speculate, but money talks, and it’s telling me that Infinity Ward’s mystery game simply wasn’t a guaranteed mega-hit like Modern Warfare 3’s destined to be. Activision, in case you’d forgotten, likes money quite a lot.
Yesterday, we brought you word of a rapidly escalating quarrel between Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward and publisher Activision that culminated in the firings of two Infinity Ward bosses. On one side of the spat, there was Activision -- playing the part of the dejected parent who was forced to administer some tough love to its “insubordinate” child. Meanwhile, Infinity Ward positioned itself on the receiving end of Activision’s volley, claiming to be “confused” and “freaked out.”
Were Activision’s seemingly shady actions warranted, though? And is Infinity Ward really the innocent little lamb to Activision’s money-hungry wolf? A few analysts gave their two cents on the situation.
First up, speaking with GamePro, videogame industry legal expert Tom Buscaglia took Activision to task for what he believes to be an underhanded “last resort.”
"I did employment law for 20 years," he said. "In my experience, insubordination is a justification of last resort because it's completely subjective. If I see that [in a wrongful termination lawsuit], it's usually complete bullshit."
"In any game, somebody has to be the keeper of the vision," Buscaglia said, speaking of former IW bosses Zampella and West. "So now [Activision’s] killed the goose, but they have a golden egg."
However, Infinity Ward may not have been playing entirely by the rules either. Speaking with Joystiq, analysts Michael Pachter and Jesse Divnich pointed out that Activision’s rumored refusal to fork over IW’s royalty fees was far from abnormal.
"I couldn't speak to what the royalty agreement between Activision and Infinity Ward is,” Divnich said. “If royalties haven't been paid out yet, I wouldn't consider that too alarming. The game has only been out for a little over 90 days. Additionally, it is common to see royalty agreements based upon factors such as hitting release date, review scores (a.k.a. 'Metacritic Clauses') or revenue milestones. I think if you just replace the word 'royalties' with 'bonus' it should make some more sense."
So there you go: a couple more threads for an already extremely tangled web. Oh well. Closure’s overrated anyway, right?
There are a few signature characteristics of Call of Duty games—at least, the ones developed by series-creator Infinity Ward. First, the games feel real. The story unfolds as you play through a conflict as a few normal soldiers—regular guys on the ground who find themselves thrust into extraordinary events. They aren’t supermen. The campaigns are plausible, even if they’re fictionalized or set in the near future, reinforcing the feeling that the experience could take place in the real world. The third characteristic is that there’s usually a deep, engaging multiplayer experience thrown in the game for free. Unfortunately, in this outing, Infinity Ward whiffed on all three counts, much to our dismay.
Let’s start with the seven-hour single-player campaign. Instead of playing as normal grunts in this year’s entry, you end up playing as junior varsity supermen—an American soldier who’s always in the wrong place at the wrong time and the protégé of one of the characters you played in the first Modern Warfare. While none of the characters you play are named Jor-El, they’re a long way from the untrained Russian conscript who was handed a single clip and chained to the guy with the rifle at Stalingrad in the first Call of Duty. This creates a sense of unreality that’s reinforced by the game’s ludicrous plot twists and completely unbelievable characters. (Warning, spoilers appear in the next paragraph!)
After Infinity Ward hauled dedicated server support off to the gallows, many gamers figured that its partner in crime – modding – was next in line for the chopping block. It appears, however, that Infinity Ward’s had a change of heart. Not on the dedicated server thing, mind you – but one is better than none, right?
“Nothing on Dedicated Servers, but there may be some Mod Tools news coming in the future, I'll pass it along once I have it,” Infinity Ward’s Robert Bowling tweeted in reply to a fan’s question.
Granted, Infinity Ward never explicitly stated that mod support was a complete no-go for Modern Warfare 2, but it’s nice to hear that the developer’s still got enough time for us PC gamers in between its assuredly frequent “Biggest Launch in Entertainment History” trophy polishing sessions.
Not that we blame them. You’ve got to savor records like that while they’re still yours, because these days, it’s only a matter of time before someone tosses out a Twilight dating sim and breaks every sales record known to man, setting the bar so high that our children’s children won’t even produce a series fit to lick its jewel encrusted boots. These are dark days, friends. Dark days, indeed.
After an exceedingly long tour of duty in World War II, EA’s Medal of Honor series has finally that it’s time for a change of scenery. So, where to? Well, we hear modern times are pretty nice this time of year, and evidently, so did EA.
"EA has always been an advocate for telling the soldiers' story. The new Medal of Honor follows that tradition. We felt it was important to tell the story of today's war and today's elite soldiers via today's most relevant medium--videogames," explained EALA general manager Sean Decker. "We are so proud to bring together two powerhouse development teams to make this game a reality; EA Los Angeles and EA DICE. Medal of Honor promises to be an unforgettable entry in the modern shooter genre."
Battlefield developer DICE on multiplayer duty? Yes please.
If you’re afraid EA might be attempting to ape the 800 lb. gorilla that is Activision’s Modern Warfare series, though, fear not. While Modern Warfare has all the trappings of a (good) Michael Bay film, the new Medal of Honor’s shooting for something a bit more grounded in reality.
“Medal of Honor, an all-new first-person shooter game, will introduce the Tier 1 Operator: a relatively unknown entity directly under the National Command Authority who takes on missions no one else can handle. The development team has been working closely with Tier 1 Operators from the US Special Operations Community since the earliest stages of development to create the most authentic modern war experience,” said EA.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Modern Warfare 2’s adoring public has spoken and, well, Infinity Ward didn’t quite step up and deliver. Enter hackers. And so they said, “Let there be something like dedicated servers,” and it was… not so good. The long and short of it? Hackers like to cheat. Straight from the horse’s mouth:
“Thanks to AgentGOD and his great work bringing the developer console back into the PC version, a whole new wave of servers are possible with vast amounts of customisation. Things such as unlimited ammo, massive experience points (10000xp for a single kill), Field of View tweaks, speed and gravity adjustments and so much more,” reads a Youtube video description of the hackers in question.
“The best bit is, this is all ranked and on IWNet! I guess the game is no longer balanced to f*** the PC gamers over!”
As of now, Infinity Ward has yet to respond to our questions about potential plans for anti-cheat measures. We imagine the trigger-happy developer has something in store for the infinite rocket-firing, gravity-defying scum, though.
If not, well, imagine that a bunch of Unreal Tournament’s colorful combatants decided to travel back in time and take over our world. Because that’ll make getting obliterated by lightning-fast, nigh-invincible super soldiers a little less frustrating.
Surprising absolutely no one on the entire planet -- since damn near all of humanity was counting down the milliseconds until the game was clasped between their grubby mitts – Modern Warfare 2 now officially holds the record for biggest launch in entertainment history. We’re not just talking games, either. Books, movies, and music – none of them stood a chance against Activision’s not-so-secret weapon.
Last year, Grand Theft Auto IV stole the show, moving 3.6 million units and raking in $310 million – all after a mere 24 hours. Modern Warfare 2 also lured $310 million from the safety of gamers’ wallets, but sold 4.7 million units. On top of that, Modern Warfare 2’s day-one sales came only from the US, Canada, and UK. GTA IV’s numbers, meanwhile, stem from a worldwide launch. Thus, all things considered, it’s a photo finish, with Modern Warfare 2 sporting slightly longer legs.
So, on a completely unrelated topic, what’s everyone playing this weekend?