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Treyarch has given PC gamers one less reason to protest Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. They revealed that the game will supported ranked, dedicated servers for multiplayer.
The news was broken in very low-key fashion. Cesar Stastny, Treyarch's director of technology, mentioned it on his Twitter account. It's a very low-key way to make the announcement. However, I guess this feature doesn't deserve a flashy reveal. After all, dedicated servers were included in Modern Warfare 3 and the first Black Ops.
Modern Warfare 2, however, didn't have dedicated servers. Developer Infinity Ward had insisted that this would result in a smoother experience but PC gamers strongly disagreed. They ended up launching a petition that garned 200,000 signatures. Furthermore, online activity for MW2 dropped off dramatically a few weeks after the game's launch. It really didn't help the series' image in the eyes of PC gamers.
More importantly, the dedicated server drama gave rival publisher EA a way to make in-roads on the shooter market. Battlefield: Bad Company 2, released a few months after MW2, featured dedicated servers. EA and developer DICE were able to play the role of "the companies who care about PC gamers" and position BF as the anti-Call of Duty.
Call of Duty is a behemoth and probably will be for awhile, so they can afford to piss off small chunks of their playerbase. Still, if they're going to go through the trouble of making a PC version, it only makes sense that they'd tailor it to suit the platform. Otherwise they're just pissing development costs away on a port everyone would consider sub-standard.
Will dedicated server support turn PC gamers and COD into BFF's? Probably not. It's a start, though. I imagine Call of Duty Elite integration is on PC gamers' wish lists as well.