Back in 2009, when Infinity Ward was still the studio founded and staffed by Vincent Zampella and Jason West, there was much hemming and hawing amongst the company’s devoted PC players over the next Call of Duty. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on PC would not have dedicated servers. It was considered the gravest injustice by the studio’s biggest fans, players who had followed Infinity Ward from when they were known as 2015 Inc., the studio behind Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.
Activision’s perennial bestseller might have its biggest audience on the Xbox 360, but it won’t make that mistake ever again. Call of Duty: Black Ops II PC will support dedicated servers when it comes out in November.
Treyarch director of technology Cesar Stastny confirmed via Twitter on Monday that the Call of Duty: Black Ops II’s PC players wouldn’t have to worry about playing on overcrowded shared servers. “Confirmed: Ranked Dedicated Servers for #BlackOps2.”
Treyarch has been a champion of dedicated PC servers for its ranked players since 2010’s Call of Duty: Black Ops. While Infinity Ward recognized community dissatisfaction with the decision to forego servers for Modern Warfare 2, it never did introduce them. Infinity Ward kept the game on its peer-to-peer network IWNET even after 125,000 players signed a petition to bring back the dedicated servers. “[The petition] definitely made a big wave, and the response will not be ignored. I’ll ensure everyone at IW sees the petitions and responses to it,” said then community manager Robert Bowling.
One year later, Call of Duty: Black Ops supported ranked dedicated servers. Last year’s Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer developed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 did have dedicated servers but only for unranked matches.
Treyarch and Activision’s decision will no doubt satisfy PC players of the Call of Duty games but it’s dificult to say one way or another if it will have any impact on the game’s retail success. Call of Duty: Black Ops and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on PC have sold approximately 1.4 million copies each, implying that Call of Duty’s audience on PC is flat regardless of whether dedicated servers are ranked or not.
Dedicated servers do seem vital to PC players though. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sold a mere 740,000 on PC, just more than half that of its successors on the platform.
PC still only represents a fraction of Call of Duty’s total sales. Modern Warfare 3 sold more than 14 million copies on Xbox 360 alone.