Steam Snag: Digital Retailers Boycott Modern Warfare 2

By  |  Friday, November 6, 2009 at 4:59 pm

call_of_duty_modern_warfare_2_Just days before Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is released, several digital retailers have decided not to sell the game.

Is it because of that controversial scene where the player acts out a terrorist attack? Nope. It’s because the game’s PC version uses Steamworks, a software platform for multiplayer match creation, downloadable content and anti-piracy measures. Direct2Drive, Impulse and GamersGate say they oppose the forced installation of third-party software on players’ computers (Direct2Drive calls Steamworks “a Trojan Horse”), and so they are sitting out on the biggest computer game of 2009. Bold move.

Of course, that’s only the official story. Steamworks is a part of Steam, Valve’s digital distribution service that happens to compete with the boycotting retailers. As 1UP so eloquently put it, “having to fire up Steam to play the game you bought from Direct2Drive is a lot like having to walk through a McDonald’s every time you want to eat a Whopper,” so you can understand the retailers’ position.

The bigger issue is that Modern Warfare 2 is taking away many of the things PC gamers love about PC gaming. Last month, chaos ensued when developer Infinity Ward said there would be no dedicated servers allowed for multiplayer matches. Instead, everything will be handled though a console-style matchmaking system, and the game won’t support user-created mods either. (Ars Technica has a nice rundown of how messy this situation has become).

The forced implementation of Steamworks ties into those earlier developments as a way of controlling the PC gaming environment, and making it more like the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. The problem is, that’s not what PC gamers want. Modern Warfare 2 will probably sell well on the PC anyway, but it’ll be a neutered experience, and one that hurts the free spirit of PC gaming as a whole.



19 Comments For This Post

  1. Mike Cerm Says:

    This IS a bold move, and an incredibly stupid one. Modern Warfare is going to sell millions of copies, regardless of any boycott. It will likely be the best selling game of the year, and possibly ever. I don’t see how competitors granting de facto exclusive distribution to Steam is going to hurt Valve, or Activision.

  2. ediedi Says:

    ‘the free spirit of PC gaming as a whole’ – that’s funny.

  3. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    @ediedi: what’s funny about that? The reason I am a PC gamer, is precisely because I want some freedom. Consoles are black boxes deciding how you play it, and frankly, they don’t deliver a decent experience imo. A lot of the very best PC games (let’s say Starcraft, Counter Strike, Team fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Unreal Tournament, need I continue?) were so great because they support community mods and patching by users: something consoles can’t and don’t want to deliver.

    I was about to buy MW2, but because they completely closed it up (you don’t even get console access for crying out loud!!!) I will not. If wanted a console game, I’d get a console. And I am not.

  4. Stilgar Says:

    When Valve first announced Steam and it’s ties to Half-Life 2, I recall a lot of complaints about DRM hell and people saying stuff like, “they can just turn off your purchases whenever they want” or, “what happens if they go out of business.” Fast forward a few years and most of these same people love Steam. I’m one of them. Steam is just so darn convenient and they regularly have great game deals on there…like the Team Fortress 2 for $2.50 promo they ran last weekend. I’d hardly consider it a “Trojan” and agree that the retailers are only hurting themselves. The time to take a stand against Steam was back when people had doubts about it.

  5. ZuMo Says:

    Wow, Biggest Disappointment Award of 2009! Sure it will sell a ton of copies, but it is going to be one hell of a let down. And co-op mode is only 2 players, not 4 like WaW. Its only going to be a shadow of its former glory, people like myself, thought, or are still thinking, of whats going to be new? whats going to be next! only to find out that they left the cheese under a steel cage, and uv been led into a prison trap. They are taking all the great things about the game, and throwing them out the window. Because honestly? why do they care? they already know there going to sell millions of copies, so why put any effort into the game?

  6. Skelebob124156 Says:

    I was going to but it but no more since it is steam only and steam is complete crap, thanks for ruining pc gaming valve you bastards.
    I shouldn’t even need the internet to play games.

  7. Max Says:

    you guys are full of crap! How does running a program through steam limit the experience? if anything it makes it easy to keep track of rather than having disks all over the place and hasn’t failed me now so far. Have fun giving up on a good game over petty things 😉

  8. max Says:

    Muzzer, that doesn't happen… I think you've done something wrong!

  9. Hatesteam Says:

    I do steam and i am disgusted!! This really does happen! I was looking forward to a great game to play offline and instead i have to do this. You wait 10 hours to play your game and you don't even use the discs!!

  10. muzzer Says:

    My complaint about steam is that i buy a game, it comes with 2 disc, but i still have to wait 12 hours for steam to download the game. whats the point in the 2 discs if i cant install or play the game with them? why do i have to wait hours? why cant i install them from the disc any play straight away?

  11. raker Says:

    I had the same question muzzer.. i wanna play some single player at least. . but my slow-mo internet is gonna take forever. And when it finishes, my ISP is going to bill for the bandwidth i used to download when i already spent a ton on the game.

  12. Skelebob124156 Says:

    The game is crippled by steam drm you should not need steam to play if bought on a disc the game should be on the disc not steam and a code to download it from steam.

  13. yoghibubu Says:

    Same here i just bought the game 2 cd’s installed and still have to wait to play, what the hell i just spent €59.90 and can’t play that is not right!!!

  14. Zontar42 Says:

    What a ripoff – using Steam means you can only have ONE PROFILE for both single player and multiplayer. So, 2 people in a family can’t play SP with their own profile or level up their own character in MP! Other than subscription MMO’s I don’t know any PC game that only allowed a single user for a game! The lack of dedicated servers is one thing but this is beyond the pale.

  15. Damian Says:

    I was pumped up to buy modern warfare two, but when I learned that it was being released on steam, I knew I wouldn’t buy it. Sux really, was looking forward to the tittle, but steam ruins everything they touch, and I’m personally boycotting any release on steam. In fact not only do I boycott, I go and torrent any game released on steam. Fux steam.

  16. Akira Says:

    Just got my game in today. As mentioned and well noted, the 2nd DVD does not read in most DVD drives. However I did get the 2nd DVD to read on an older drive but yet the old drive does not read DVD1. So to do a complete install…i had to backup the 1st DVD and transfer it over the network to the computer to be installed. This Steam crap just cripples a user’s options. You have to log into ur Steam just to install this crap. So if you dont have internet, ur shit out of luck. Also, im guessing both DVD’s have to install from same location? Because my DVD1 is installing from the HD and my DVD2 is in DVD drive, but when it gets to the part when it asks for DVD2, Steam won’t recognize it or give any options to pick location. Sucks. This is just another form of control.

    For the record, you dont have to wait for the game to download if you have the DVD’s. It installs from the DVD’s.

    I always thought it was normal progression to better our last projects/games and not the other way around and put out a worse product. Im confused.

  17. Dan Says:

    I just bought the game also and cannot get my drive to read DVD 1. It will recognize the 2nd though. I was hoping to play the game offline, and maybe in the future play online, but now I cant do either. The only option i have is to “add a new steam game”, enter the pass code, and download the whole game. So, with this connection, i’ll be playing MW2 offline around the year 2013.

    Does anyone have a solution for this or any suggestions?

  18. Akira Says:

    Your only other option is add another DVD drive that would read disk 1. Perhaps from a spare computer.

    Fortunenately, i have decent internet speed and finally did install using the download.

  19. PCfun Says:

    I bought the PC version and it stinks. All I want to do is play and after the update yesterday I cannot even log onto Steam. I used my user name and password and it does not work now. I even asked for an email reply to help reset my password two times and nothing. If this is happening to everyone else then I suppose it will take a few weeks for them to help everyone. I only had the game for a week paid 60 bucks for it and now it is useless. Logging onto Steam really sucks. I am not happy, I wasted 60 bucks on a game I cannot even play now. I see now why many retailers will not sell the game, I want my money back. I bought 2 PS3 and separate COD MW2 for each and I cannot even play multi player against them on the same LAN network. What a waste of money, don’t buy the PC game, nothing but troubles.

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