Fair Play.com? Site refuses comments on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
If you're a gamer, you might have been giddy with excitement at the prospect of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on the PC. It's released next month and promises more first person shooter nonsense as you blow the faces off Russian ultra nationalists.
But it's not quite the game that PC users were looking forward to. Yesterday our sister site Dealspwn reported the game would no longer have dedicated servers, as previous titles had. This is a massive deal for gamers - dedicated servers allowed gamers to play in groups, customise the gameplay and compete with rival clans online. The new version is a console-style matchmaking system which involves being paired with random players and little customisation.
Piracy would seem to be a key reason for the change - as Dealspwn explains, while dedicated servers give gamers many more options to choose how they play the game and interact with others, it can also allow games with pirated copies to play online by avoiding any validation system.
The upshot is there's an online petition - currently with over 133,000 signatures - demanding the game's developers overturn the changes and restore the level of gameplay expected by loyal fans. Gamers are also making their feelings known elsewhere - take a look at the ratings and comments for the game on Amazon, and you realise that the retailers stand to lose a sizable amount of money on what would have been a very bankable title.
Which brings us to Play.com. It's the norm for Play to allow reviews of titles before release to create buzz around the launch - for example you can read glowing reviews for Football Manager 2010:
Plenty of pre-release games don't have reviews, but given that Amazon features over 140 comments on MW2, it's a little odd there are no reviews on Play. Maybe it's because all commenters must be registered with Play.com, and that process involves handing over your credit card details. Or maybe it's because Play stand to lose too much money in pre-orders if people are put off buying the game.
All comments posted to Play are moderated and must adhere to Play's review guidelines:
We registered and posted a one star review, pointing out the game didn't support dedicated servers - a comment that didn't contravene Play's rules in any way. It hasn't appeared, and nor have the comments of Dealspwn reader Graham, who posted a reasonable and balanced review of the changes in gameplay:
Changes to multiplayer, no dedicated servers, steam reqrd.
With only 3 weeks left to launch day, news has broken that the long established method of using hosted servers is being replaced by console-style matchmaking. This means clans and squads can no longer have their own servers but are forced to group and then get placed with randoms. The game also is run via steam, to make sure you have a geniune copy. This also stops you from selling on the game to the 2nd hand market and stops any custom maps etc. So for those expecting more of the same please be aware of these changes which Activision and IW have never publicised until it was mentioned possibly unintentionally by an employee during an interview. I hope this is published as it will save play the hassle of processing many cancellations for pre-orders.
The only unacceptable aspect of Graham's critical post is that it might put buyers off the game, or lead to those who have pre-ordered to cancelling. Otherwise there's no reason why the post shouldn't have appeared, although it would tip off buyers to something Play.com themselves don't mention - there's nothing in the site's description that explain the changes. We've contacted Play and invited them to comment on this matter - there may be some perfectly innocent reason why they're not publishing comments, but right now they're sitting on an awful lot of pre-orders worth £35 a pop and doing their best to prevent anyone learning the truth.