Editor’s note: Guess what, Activision? You won’t be getting Jon Cole’s hard-earned cash this holiday season. Read Jon’s chronicle of errors to find out why he will not be buying Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for the PC come November 10. -Brett


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The 2009 holiday season promises to be a huge one for video games. Despite numerous delays of AAA games to early next year, the list of titles that threatens to lighten the wallets of gamers is long.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the follow-up to the enormously popular Call of Duty 4, ranks near the top of that list. With a surprisingly impressive list of improvements to the multiplayer mode, this game is undoubtedly going to be the game to play online with other people for this year. Not only that, but Infinity Ward’s Robert Bowling has promised the PC release will exactly match console version of the game, which at first glance appears to be a boon to the PC community.

Unfortunately, that parity extends to the server structure, meaning that, like the console versions, you won’t be able to use dedicated servers with the game. Instead gamers must rely on a matchmaking service called IWNet.

This news strikes a major blow to PC users who are accustomed to private servers for online play — and it’s another in a long line of blunders with the PC release of Modern Warfare 2. Because of them, I’m no longer going to buy the game.

 

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One of the most exciting elements about the first Modern Warfare PC release was the fact that Infinity Ward made downloadable maps available to PC gamers for free — a perfect prospect for someone like me who wants to dabble but not devote hundreds of hours to a single game.

That happy prospect evaporated away when I found out that Modern Warfare 2 will require PC gamers to pay for downloadable content, a notable step away from the business practices of most PC developers and publishers.

In addition, Activision recently announced it will start charging $60 for the PC versions of their games. Typically, games that cost $60 on consoles are $50 or less on PC due to the lack of licensing fees.

I can’t see any apparent technical reason Activision’s price hike; the only plausible reason I can think of is for profit. Activision execs likely said to each other, “If we can charge console gamers $60 for this game, why can’t we charge PC gamers the same price?” and that was that.

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After finding out these two facts, my resolve to purchase Modern Warfare 2 weakened, but I still felt compelled to pick the game up due to some of the great pre-release coverage I’d seen.

But the announcement that Infinity Ward would be using proprietary servers to act as the backbone for Modern Warfare 2 crumbled that resolve. Practically every major player in the PC space offers dedicated servers. The custom map settings, much improved ping, greater player capacity, improved support for a burgeoning community, structured environments for clans, and many other benefits of dedicated servers are what make PC gaming special, especially for first-person shooter games.

By removing dedicated servers, Activision has taken away everything that gave the PC version of the game a distinct identity from the console versions, in effect twisting the knife in the backs of PC gamers.

Now, I’ve never been one to shake my fist, yell out on the roofs of tall buildings, or support online petitions. I feel the classic “vote with your wallet” strategy is a strong enough message to send.

So I’m not going to send an angry letter or sign a petition, as thousands of gamers have done. I’m simply not going to buy Modern Warfare 2. In a holiday season as bustling as the one on the horizon, there is just too much competition for me to put up with these missteps.