Impotence: An Internet ROMCOM

Rage against the machine!
Rage against the machine!

It’s been said often that no online petition anywhere has ever accomplished anything. For example, about 12 years ago when online petition websites first started popping up I started one demanding the erraddication of all sites dedicated to the creation of Internet petitions. Got a bunch of people to sign it, too. But the owners of the site where the petition was hosted refused to shut down! Can you believe it? If the people running online petitions won’t listen to online petitions, why would anyone with a real business?

Which brings us to today’s petition du ‘jour. No sooner had it slipped out in a podcast that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 would not ship with support for dedicated servers in the PC version than a thousand server mods shouted impotently into the series of tubes.

As is the common practice with a petition, you must write a letter addressed to the people or organization you hope to sway. Here is the full text of the CoD:MW2 dedicated server letter:

also add punkbuster


To:  infinity wardGet Infinity Ward to review their decision not to allow fully dedicated servers for their forthcoming game release CoD:MW2. Remember that this Call of Duty was made popular by PC Gamers who have supported the series throughout.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

Thanks to automation the letter is at least properly signed. Whoever wrote the “demands” sure seems confused about how these letters should read. And god know’s what’s happening with the “add punkbuster” addendum at the top. That’s what it really looks like on the page. I thought maybe it was written by someone who doesn’t speak English natively, but at the bottom the author is named Dave Wilks of CODleague.com, so that doesn’t really explain why it’s so hasty and inarticulate.

I think the worst part is the petition, which already has about 120K “signatures” (which take about as much effort as clicking on a banner ad), doesn’t actually demand dedicated servers. It only asks Infinity Ward to “review the decision”. I think Mr. Wilks may thing the word “review” in this context is synonymous with “reverse”. It’s not, of course, and I’m guessing IW was pretty happy with the decision the first time around when they originally reviewed their options for multiplayer in the sequel. It’s worth mentioning that while IW is robbing some people of the ability to set up their own CoD:MW2 servers (which they often then use to sell in-game ads), the greater goal is to make the PC version’s multiplayer work exactly like online in the PS3 and 360 versions of CoD4, CoD:WaW and now CoD:MW2. That’s like 20 million happy customers and counting who’ve enjoyed a user experience that is in many ways superior to the ass-backwards method of looking at a server browser.

So while this has been framed by many in the debate as Infinity Ward turning their backs on a platform where the franchise first began and became successful, it’s actually a matter of the developers making a significant investment in a free service designed to improve the experience for 99% of their customers.

But more importantly, whether or not this move by IW is the right one for the game, I want you to remember that internet petitions are worth less than the paper no one had the wherewithal to print them on.