This is a continuing SPOnG retrospective of the year’s events.
Hello November, how’s things? What’s that? Oh, Modern Warfare 2? That’s cool, I’ll come back later, then.
Yes, there was nothing anybody could have done about it. Activision’s mega-popular war game was heading for a November release and everyone and his dog was going to know about it. As a result, the majority of SPOnG’s top stories for the month pertained to Medal of Honour. Nah, not really - Modern Warfare 2, of course.
Of course, when you have such an astronomical hit on your hands, you have to be prepared for the sheer number of people that will come online to play. By association, you also need to be aware of how many players are going to try and abuse the system the first chance they get. Within weeks of the game’s release, developer Infinity Ward had announced they smacked the ban on around 2,500 PC Modern Warfare 2
players (“2,500 Modern Warfare 2 PC Players Ban Hammered
”, 30th Nov 2009).
Despite IW’s community manager, Robert Bowling, trying to calm people down and play up the whole “now the game’s much more fun to play” deal, we saw an awful lot of rage in SPOnG’s comments box. People weren’t happy, but we wonder whether it was due to the act of banning cheaters or the revelation some weeks prior that the PC version wouldn’t support dedicated servers.
Either way, it didn’t matter. Modern Warfare 2
sold like the hottest hot cakes that had ever been baked by Mama Hot. Or something. The point is, it sold by the truckload - 1.78 million units were sold in the UK alone over a five days period, with over 1 million of those belonging to the Xbox 360 version (“Xbox 360 Owns Modern Warfare 2’s First Week
”, 16th Nov 2009). The 1.78m figure generated a £67.4 million, and earned Activision CEO Bobby Kotick a crapload of cash.
As you would expect from a sales explosion of that magnitude, Modern Warfare 2
dominated the UK charts for weeks to come and as we write this now, stands a very good chance of being Christmas #1. Not even massive sales slumps could knock it off the top spot (“UK Video Game Charts: Modern Warfare 2’s Sales Slip
”, 30th Nov 2009), considering how many it sold in the first place.
Alas, we didn’t go for too long in this crazy year without more mass media scaremongering, this time by our good friends, The Daily Mail
and Labour MP Keith Vaz. The two forces united this month to imply that adults were dumb animals that couldn’t make informed choices about entertainment, and went with the angle that Modern Warfare 2
“glamourises violence” (“Brit Politician Vows to Slam Modern Warfare 2 in Parliament
”, 9th Nov 2009).
Vaz announced that he would be voicing concerns in Parliament later that day to slam the level of violence in the game and hopefully get some other politicians on his side. That plan fell through in hilarious fashion, with the Labour Minister for Creative Industries, Siôn Simon and Labour member for West Bromwich East, Tom Watson, throwing the argument away (“UK MP Makes Fool of Himself Over Modern Warfare 2
”, 9th Nov 2009).
When Vaz, oblivious to Modern Warfare 2
’s ’18’ rating, asked, “What steps is the government proposing to take in order to ensure these violent games do not fall into the hands of children and young people?”, Simon responded with: “This game... is a certificate 18 game, it should not be sold to children and the government’s job is to make sure that adults, clearly labelled, can get what adults should be able to.”
Watson, our new hero, went for the jugular; “Does the Minister agree that it would be better for this House to support the many thousands of games designers and coders and the many millions of games users, rather than collaborating with The Daily Mail to create moral panic over the user of videogames?” Oh, common sense can be so refreshing sometimes.