Infinity Ward appears to have dumped dedicated servers for the PC version of Modern Warfare 2 in favour of its own proprietary matchmaking service.
According to IW's Robert Bowling, speaking about 1 hour 40 minutes into the BASH podcast (thanks Kotaku), the new service will be called IWNet and is part of the developer's attempts to make the game "very equal on every platform".
"We've been building up this system on the backend called IWNet to allow matchmaking for our PC users as well, just like you have on the console that's built in on Xbox Live and PSN, but PC never had it, so we're building in our own, you know, matchmaking so you can get in there and play with players your same rank," Bowling explained.
"You're completely reliant on IWNet, and there's no dedicated server or server list, so you rely on IWNet for your matchmaking on your games, but then you also have the private match, much like the other platforms, where you can go in and customise and, you know, turn off air support, turn off this, turn off that, customise the game rules all via private match, and invite people to the server that way."
When asked to confirm that this meant no dedicated servers, Bowling replied, to stunned silence from the PC fans running the podcast, "Correct. Yep."
Asked whether this meant each player's PC would have to host other players, he said: "As far as I know. But as far as getting down into the technicals of all IWNet, I'm hoping we can get some, you know, get some of the tech guys into some stuff later on to explain it in depth."
Bowling was coy about other specifics. Asked about support for custom content and modifications, all he would say is that he wasn't certain about the future of IWNet. "I know they're putting a lot of work into it and the stuff you'll be able to do to it later on," he said.
"But at launch it's mostly focused on, you know, handling all the matchmaking and all that stuff. But for customising your game to playing how you want, you're going to have quite a few options in private match to do all the typical stuff you would do - remove things, or change things to make it more realistic, changing health variables, or damage variables and spawn, and all that stuff can be done via private match."
One of the chaps on the BASH podcast then tried to pin Bowling down about the dedicated server issue, suggesting that perhaps a wily operator could buy another copy of the game, install a meaty graphics card in his dedicated server and still run the game for other people to connect to as if the server were a fellow client. But Bowling either didn't hear this properly or didn't reply to it directly, as he reiterated the previous point about graduating to IWNet for "accessibility" reasons.
He did, though, say that patches could follow the release of the game according to feedback from the PC community. (Yeah. Er, probably do expect some feedback.)
Asked how he saw the Modern Warfare PC community two or three months down the line, he said: "I think that's going to be much more like the rest of the gaming scene, where you have your sites where you congregate and you discuss and you set up matches and you schedule, and then you jump into a private match and you invite everybody in, and you do your clan games there.
"Much more than how it currently is in PC where you have your clan... everything's ran by... you have complete control. This is much more of a communal thing."
Inevitably there's already a petition (45,000 signatures at the time of writing) set up to "get Infinity Ward to review [its] decision not to allow fully dedicated servers for [Modern Warfare 2]."
"Remember that this Call of Duty was made popular by PC Gamers who have supported the series throughout," the petition notes.