Infinity Ward has seemingly been able to do no wrong in the lead-up to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's highly anticipated November 10 launch on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. The game has for several months been the most preordered title in Activision's history, and analysts have floated lofty sales expectations of more than 11 million units worldwide by the end of the year.
Be that as it may, the developer did catch some flak over the weekend, after revealing on the Call of Duty-centric Bash and Slash podcast that the PC edition of the game would see dramatic changes to its online multiplayer component. Namely, community manager Robert "FourZeroTwo" Bowling took the lid off of IWNet, a new matchmaking service that eschews player-run dedicated servers in favor of a more structured and streamlined multiplayer experience.
Bowling's announcement was met with a swift, vitriolic reaction from the PC player base, prompting an online petition that has thus far accrued in excess of 128,000 signatures. Now, Bowling has moved to assuage fears for the PC multiplayer experience by way of a detailed rundown on his personal blog of what players can expect from the new IWNet matchmaking service.
Explaining the situation at the outset, Bowling noted that "the news, by default, means no more browsing through a server list for a server with the settings/ping you want among other things, and sent shockwaves through the hardcore PC community, leading to many more questions than answers as to 'HOW' this would work, and if it would really be better for the PC community as a whole."
As for that "how," Bowling said, "IWNet takes the benefits of dedicated servers and allows them to be utilized and accessed by every player, out of the box, while removing the barrier to entry for players unaware of how to maintain a server on their own."
Infinity Ward's community manager also noted that the studio has invested more into the PC edition of Modern Warfare 2 than any other installment in the franchise, loading it out with the most features as a result. Specifically, the service streamlines the server-selection process by identifying the best possible match for any given player, based on criteria of lag, preferences, and skill level.
IWNet will also support private matches, for those who have a specific set of people they'd like to play with or who wish to participate in custom-rules matches. The service also accommodates friends lists, letting gamers form a party and move between different matches together. Lastly, the service also incorporates Valve's Anti-Cheat (VAC) system, used in such multiplayer games as Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead, to prevent player hacking and other disruptive behavior.