The Trouble with Modern Warfare 2
This year’s most anticipated game, and sequel to best selling first-person game, Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (COD:MW2) seems to be having some trouble selling because of its partnership with giant on-line game storefront Steam. Steam is also software that acts as a go-between between your computer and game publisher and Steam owner, Valve. Without the software, games cannot be bought online and the same game after downloading cannot be played. The Steam client is required for purchasing, downloading, playing and backing up games. Aside from Steam, there is also Steamworks, which is another software that manages game updating as well as keeping tab on Digital Rights Management of games bought on retail or downloaded from storefronts.
Set to be released this 10th of November, rival on-line game sellers like Impulse, Direct2Drive, and GamersGate were all one in saying that they will not be selling the first-person modern military shooter. At the root of the controversy are the softwares Steam and Steamworks. Called trojan horses, a spokesman from Direct2Drive said that gamers should not be required to install and run a rival seller’s software in order to play games purchased from their site. Impulse and GamersGate had the same say on the matter and added further that the inclusion of Steam or Steamworks is one form of unfair competition. It was verified by Impulse that in order to play COD:MW2, all gamers have to create an online Steam account. Steam is a requirement to play Modern Warfare 2 and this raised questions whether one is allowed to play even if there is no internet access.
The inclusion of Steam and Steamworks, and its requirement before games can be played, has been construed as a hostile act by Valve. The beef shared by Impulse, Direct2Drive and GamersGate is that they are required to carry software that has a direct access to a rival seller’s storefront. Other valid points raised by the three sellers include gamer privacy rights noting that upon logging on to Steam, a notice is made known to everyone that user generated information, in aggregate or individually, maybe shared with other parties.
Steam and Steamworks, according to Valve, make the gaming experience more enjoyable for everyone. With Steam, anyone can participate in forums, play the game seamlessly from one PC to another, and purchase additional games effortlessly. Inside the Steam community, anyone can find playmates, meet old friends and create new ones, join similar interest groups, chat, and participate in matches and tournaments. The Steam community is free. Another great benefit of joining Steam is automatic patching of games – no more hunting all over the web for updates. With Steam, all games are updated by themselves.
Whether gamers agree that Steam and Steamworks contribute to a more enjoyable gaming experience remains to be seen but it is already clear that COD:MW2 will be another hit. However the boycott of three major sellers will surely have a dampening effect on sales. It has been the clamour of the three other sellers to detach Steam and Steamworks at least from games sold in their stores.