Infinity Ward has confirmed that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will not have any option to allow players to search for multiplayer games within their country or region, a feature that has been highly requested by international players to improve lag in the game.
Robert Bowling, Creative Strategist at Infinity Ward, posted a statement on his @FourZeroTwo Twitter account saying: "There isn't an option to search specific regions / countries when matchmaking, but there is improved matchmaking to auto-assist." The improved matchmaking system would automatically connect players to games that were best for their connection, he later explained.
When asked if local matchmaking could be added in a later patch, however, Bowling said it was a possibility. "We'll monitor community feedback closely post launch to see if the improved matchmaking benefits international users or not."
The issue has generated a large thread, with over 1400 replies, in the Infinity Ward forums. The thread was started by a New Zealand user called SouzaNZ who described his experiences playing the previous game in the series, Call of Duty 4, against North American players with high pings.
"You encounter an enemy, you shoot at him with enough rounds for a kill with your AK or your sniper rifle and the 'X' damage indicator comes up," SouzaNZ wrote. "But for some reason you die and he does not. You watch the killcam to see why you died, and apparently you didn't even fire off a shot. You just got killed by lag." He says it is one of the most important issues in the game for console gamers, especially in the Oceanic and European regions.
"Anyone who has played a round or two of COD4 with yellow ping knows how annoying it can be, now imagine that happening for 95% of the games you find via matchmaking. For most people outside of North America this is one of the most desired features for MW2 and it needs to be addressed."
Players from other countries around the world have responded in support of the request for a local matchmaking system that would allow players to filter games by country or region.
A user from the UK called hidetheclown wrote: "I have the same problem in the UK. The hours I get to play mean I am always [playing] with US people. Consistently on two yellow or one red bar. Although I still come first most of the time it is very frustrating. Three shot kills with an M40 + Stopping Power is a joke. Four bursts or more of an M16 with Stopping Power to kill someone. I've had the 4+ burst M16 problem when I have snuck up behind someone, and shot them in the back for around 5 bursts. They still did not die!"
MentalMosquito agreed: "I live in Norway, and I have a connection speed of 7500kb per/sec. But that doesn't help when I play against Americans etc."
"10000000% agree!" wrote Ray_Lo_. "I am from Taiwan and I often get red or maybe yellow speed if lucky! Come on IW! Not only people from US should be able to play MP, but everyone from the world!!!"
Even some US users voiced their support, pointing out that it affects them as well. "I'm from America but when I join a game with a host not from America and I have anything less then 3 bars I just quit instantly to not waste my time and get mad over lag," wrote a user called Schlager. "If this happens to you guys 95% of the time then I honestly wouldn't even try to play matchmaking. I see no reason why they couldn't implement a local search with ease."
Infinity Ward's Bowling posted a response in the forum thread defending the developer's decision, saying that the matchmaking system in Modern Warfare 2 would automatically match players by connection latency. "The functionality you're asking for, the ability to connect to BEST connection rather than first available game aka quickest match, is already built into the matchmaking.
"There is no need to include an additional toggle where you manually have to ask it to put you in the game best suited for your connection, that should all be done automatically without requiring you, the player, to go through an extra step to request it.
"That's what I was referring to in the tweet of, 'you don't select a region or country, it is auto-assist'. Meaning, matchmaking will automatically put you in the best game for YOUR connection."
Bowling also pointed out that Infinity Ward is "doing extensive beta testing" of the game, both internally and with Activision partners worldwide, to make sure that the matchmaking system works for international users. "Which is why I assure you a lot of your concerns will be unfounded come launch. However, we'll still continue to monitor activity and performance for our international users post-launch and address anything that may arise."