In arguably the highest-profile third-party use of Steamworks to date, the PC version of Infinity Ward's upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
will make use of Valve's suite of publishing, updating, and social tools.
Infinity Ward and publisher Activision will be using Steamworks for game authentication, auto-patching and updating, achievements, anti-cheating measures, and persistent player settings across multiple PCs by way of the Steam Cloud. Steamworks also has built-in support for free or paid downloadable content, although that feature was not mentioned in the announcement.
Valve's Steamworks, which is offered free to all developers, competes in some areas with Microsoft's Games for Windows Live service, but outside of Valve's own games and several indie developers, it has seen less pickup than Microsoft's solution.
With the recent announcement
of Infinity Ward's in-house multiplayer server backend, "IWNet," following the studio's confirmation that the game would not support player-run dedicated servers, it is unclear what role Steamworks will have in the multiplayer side of the game. While Steamworks offers a matchmaking and lobby infrastructure, today's statement made no mention of integrating those features, suggesting the IWNet solution has its own system.
Valve today put Modern Warfare 2
up for preorder on its online Steam store, but all PC copies of Modern Warfare 2
will ship with Steamworks support -- not just those sold on Steam itself. Beyond the Steamworks features themselves, one possible secondary benefit of that move means all copies of the game will be automatically updated the same way with the same patches. In the past, some gamers have noticed delays between standalone game patches and Steam auto-patches, due to the different systems being used.
"Steamworks will make it possible for us to have a closer connection to our fans, and enable us to support our community much more than ever before," said Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling in a statement. "Steam is the hands down leader in offering a community focused experience on PC and the inclusion of Steamworks has allowed us to deliver the most feature-rich PC version to ever come from Infinity Ward, which at the end of the day will mean the most to our fans."
Past Steamworks-equipped games have included Dylan Fitterer's indie hit Audiosurf
, Tripwire Interative's shooters Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45
and Killing Floor
, and The Creative Assembly's historical strategy game Empire: Total War