Activision Considering Shutting Down ‘Black Ops’ PSN Servers

Published 4 years ago by , Updated May 1st, 2012 at 6:33 pm,

Activision Shut Down Black Ops PS3 Servers

It would be an understatement to say that this hasn’t been a good start to a new year for Sony. While they may continue to project optimism and positivity, the fact is that their motion controller is being beaten handily by the competition, and the release of their platform’s biggest shooter, Call of Duty: Black Ops has been anything but smooth.

Things won’t be getting any easier, as Infinity Ward has placed the blame for the proliferation of hackers and cheaters in Modern Warfare 2′s online component completely on their shoulders. Now it seems that one Activision rep has been frustrated to their breaking point, and responded to complaints filed by one online blogger by stating that if the uproar continues, the publisher may remove online multiplayer support for the PS3.

The PlayStation 3 has fallen into the crosshairs of the hacking community in recent weeks, first being completely hacked, then having its root key exposed to the internet.

It’s taken quite some time for the console to be split open, but players who took part in the multiplayer component of Modern Warfare 2 know firsthand how well hackers have prospered on the platform.

Given how widespread the phenomenon has become, it has to be assumed that at least part of the blame lies on the security and vulnerability of the PS3’s programming and connectivity. It’s no surprise then, that when pressed for an explanation for just how out-of-control the hacking has become for online multiplayer in MW2, Infinity Ward’s creative strategist Robert Bowling named Sony as the guilty party:

“Sony has recently acknowledged a breach in security on the PS3 which resulted in games to become exposed to exploits and hacks…Modern Warfare 2 is no exception to this security exploit and we understand that some of you have experienced problems with stats and other issues associated with this.

“Games rely on the security of the encryption on the platforms they’re played on, therefore; updates to the game through patches will not resolve this problem, unless the security exploit itself is resolved on the platform.”

Hackers and cheats can be spotted and reported, but when their numbers reach a certain point, the risk of having your stats erased or your gaming experience compromised can make any game almost unplayable. Bowling made it clear that it’s the PS3 causing the problem, and no solutions are possible other than playing exclusively with friends to avoid hackers.

So it would seem that from Infinity Ward’s point of view, they’re washing their hands of any responsibility for the state of MW2 on PS3, since they can’t make the system any less hack-able with patches or updates. Since Black Ops is the Call of Duty that’s presently making headlines, one might think that the main priority for Treyarch and Activision is to keep the online component of Black Ops up and running.

If you own a PS3 and Black Ops, you likely know that things aren’t going any smoother. The game shipped with a laundry list of bugs that were exclusive to the PS3, and instead of celebrating the game’s record-setting launch, Treyarch was immediately tasked with fixing as many as possible.

Regardless of their tireless efforts to get the PS3 version of the game playable, connectivity issues persist. There may be some PS3 owners who are enjoying as glitch-free an online experience as those who bought the game on Xbox 360, but it only takes a glance at any of the involved parties’ forums to see just how big an issue the multiplayer has become.

One internet blogger, Jason Koblovsky contacted Activision to voice his frustrations over how difficult it has become for some players to enjoy the online component of the game. While players might expect to receive a standard reply detailing the fact that the company is aware of the issue and working to resolve it, Koblovsky got something else entirely. Activision’s Senior Support Representative Dov Carson had this response:

“Well I have nothing else to offer and I too follow forums and have many friends who play and enjoy the game for all of its features. As an avid gamer, I would also disagree with any legalities involving a single aspect of a game as online experience may change at any time. The publishers have the right to shut down the servers for their game at any time as well which based on the number of reported posts from users may be a viable solution over the free PSN.

In any event, if you would like to send your game disc into us, we can either;

a) Exchange for a sealed (unopened) copy of the game that you can take back to the retailer

b) Swap for another platform

c) Exchange for another Activision title of equal or lesser value.

These are the options that we are able to offer to you as a one time courtesy.

Let us know how you would like to proceed.”

Not a lengthy statement, but certainly sure to draw up some anger and controversy from the affected gamers. One might interpret the response as an Activision employee simply stating that the company can’t be held responsible for a game’s online experience. If that’s the case, then who is responsible? Is it Sony’s fault once again, or is Activision trying to ignore the problem in hopes that it will die down?

Koblovsky interpreted the message as the publisher trying to say that the online aspects of the game promised to all platforms are not legally binding where ownership is concerned, and a message to those complaining that if they didn’t stop their outcry, the publisher would pull PSN support entirely. It’s hard to decide what is more unbelievable in this case: the fact that Activision may have shipped a game that simply could not deliver on the multiplayer promise that was made, or that they thought no one would notice.

Activision reminding players that they reserve the right to refuse online access to an entire platform is likely to draw some serious controversy from the PS3 community, since the free access is a major reason for the hardcore fans to purchase the PS3 version of the game. The fact that Carson explicitly stated that shutting down servers was a viable option for the “free PSN” is troubling, as the same move would presumably run into far more problems with a paid service like Xbox Live. If those of you who remember the publisher promising that the game’s multiplayer would always be free are confused, it’s understandable.

Whether Carson’s reply is a glimpse at Activision’s thoughts on the matter or simply an isolated incident is unknown, but this doesn’t bode well for the platform. Activision has made it clear that they aren’t afraid of making enemies, but if this is a potential solution for the Black Ops problem, then Sony is giving gamers a very good reason to stay away from their console.

We won’t jump to any conclusions, but Carson’s response and the lack of Activision voicing its acknowledgment of the issues is not what players would expect from an industry leader. We’ll keep you posted on any decisions or updates, and hope that this story can have a happy ending when all is said and done.

If you have any desire to experience the connectivity issues for yourself, you can pick up a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops for the PS3 today. Or you could pick up a copy for the Xbox 360 and PC. It’s up to you.

Source: Eurogamer, JasonKoblovsky (via Game Politics)

TAGS: Activision, Black Ops, Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 2, PS3, PSN

  • Matt Bowman

    Just a ticked off helpdesk guy who snapped at a customer, nothing more to see here. Just imagine if you had fans boys constantly screaming at you that your game is broke. It would be so damaging to Activision from a customer backlash, lose of money from future sales point of view to ever take this threat seriously.

  • Connor

    well what did u expect? YOu take a 6 game franchise, let some new group come in and try to make a game that they hope will be as good if not better than the ones before, of course there is going to be hackers! there always is and always will. i mean treyarch might have cut some corners when it came to online. i mean to get the game out as fast as they did they had to have. so there is garunteed to be morre ahckers than usual.

  • Connor

    so yea

  • Brian Dyce

    /\ i really dont see how bringing new people in to work on the last 2 titles has an impact on security, and the ability to exploit the game.

    This is where the entire “hack and/or exploit” situation was going to get to eventually, I am just quite surprised that it has happened this quickly.

    The safety and security of the system is of high importance to Sony, or MS, but it also must be number one priority on treyarch, activision, or any other company for that matter. The more hackers and frustrated players due to said hackers you have online, the closer the time comes when the legitimate, non hacking/exploiting players throw their hands up in the air, and give up on online play with that game.

    I hope that it doesnt get any worse than it has on PSN, but i fear that this situation will only become worse, for activision, and more importantly, the PSN network on the whole. Maybe it will force Sony and the Dev companies to focus a bit more on the stabilities of each of their own systems and online servers. Its getting to the point where servers and cheaters need to be dealt with more professionally, and much faster than they have been in the past. Either that, or it will continue to spiral out of control at an even faster rate than it has begun to.

    • jwalka

      right because they’ve cared for their customers this long. it’s a fact – as long as these greedy f***ers keep making money and have high % on their shares/stock they aren’t gonna do anything for consumers, infinity ward didn’t do anything to fix MW2 hacks and i doubt these 2 corporations (MS and sony) are going to do anything to stop hackers, so long as it doesn’t cost them money they dont care.

  • 1GameRanter

    For some reason, all I can see is a future PSN online fee… I hope I am wrong, best luck to Sony.

  • Scott

    I really don’t get why Activision, Treyarch and Infinity Ward are not all over this, how hard is it to compare statistics of legitimate players against cheater and just ban them?? Also Black Ops was glitchy as all hell well before the PS3 was hacked so please stop with the PR waffle…

    Also what was it Microsoft actually brought when they paid for early rights to this game, seems like they also got the majority of the development team too… Don’t get me wrong I love COD but please stop telling me that it is someone else fault that Black Ops is better on the Xbox for any other reason than bad coding and corner cutting. The PS3 is practically a mini super computer and the Xbox is a repackaged mediocre PC in a pretty box.

    Please take some time out from counting the 100’s of millions of dollars that we have given you and remember where all that money came from, we love your games just please stop treating us like we are idiots or we will find another game franchise to get behind.

    • jwalka

      the thing is coding for xbox is much more easier then it is for ps3, hence why all the guns in the CoD games on ps3 are almost identical. most ‘big time’ youtube commentators such as f1stdacuffs will tell you that playing CoD on the ps3 is the best way to get ‘youtube fame’ b/c the mechanics etc are weaker thus enabling people to just pick up the control and get scores like 30/10 per game.

      • judofrank

        no way. Xbox servers are way better point blank period. Yes you pay but its been proven worth it.. Not so many hackers and not so many modders . Xbox stops all modding on xbox live so the game is fair. ps3 on the other hand does’nt. The online service has need to make changes for avery long time. now some developers gonna finally show em why. when you give some people toomuch lee way the do things like hack and modd.

  • samuel

    As a PS3 Owner and Black Ops owner I do have to say that I since the updates I rarely encounter any problems at all. Yeah, I do get annoyed and lose some games but at the end of the day it’s due to connection issues and I rarely experience them. To say it’s ruining the game is way over the top. I’ve played on both systems and whilst the xbox is a bit more visually appealing it’s no different. Of course if Treyarch would bother to put in a bit more effort into the PS3 port it would be a much better game and they’d save money on their customer support staffing XD

  • Rob Keyes

    My pals who play Black Ops on PS3 don’t have issues either.

    I play on Xbox 360 though.

  • txwolf63

    Sold my ps3 blk ops. I have no online ps3 games now except for red dead and lbp and mag. I had all the rockband and gaytar heros on ps3 and now sold them all and the drums.etc.etc and have them on xbox. Ill wait for homefront on 360 for next war game.Halo reach is great for now

  • Grimace

    I can’t beleive Treyarch and activision making over a billion dollars and totally screwing ps3 owners with black ops. The only reason anyone bought it was because of mw2 and its success. I only play online and with all the promises of great online play. aaaAnd now to be threatend by so official who drops his sweets to close down the servers is outrageous. I hope Sony sue the pants off them for suppling such a dudd of a game.I will never buy a nother game from Activision again as I think alot of others will to.

  • Kockzilla

    If they won’t fix it we won’t buy point blank. Battlefield is a much more intense game anyway CODs days are numbered if battlefield 3 is as good as it looks.

  • bullet

    I play..well,i played black ops until the other day.after receiving a random friend console literally froze. And took a dump on me at the exact point at which i accepted a game invite from someone who i witnessed boosting/cheating.after hearing over my bluetooth-ear mic carrying on
    a convo about how they just got a new hack.sayin watch this i can glitch you if i want,at which the guy made the connection interruption notice appear for more than 5sec. And then went back to if he disrupted my connection along with others on the friend who was playing w/me witnessed this as well.then the same guy sent me a friend req. At which my console froze.had to pull the plug on back.after rebooting at an extreemely slow rate finally managed to get back to the multiplayer lobby and proceeded to join a hardcore TDM.every attempt was denied saying.connection failed.has been kicked.server has timed this point i chose to restart ps3 by selecting turn off console from ps3 button menu on controller.after this my ps3 completely died.upon bootup i got the message(cannot start, correct hard disk not found).i
    lost the safe mode menu as a result.and also called ps help 1-800# and the guy told me it had nothing to do with all that.also i plugged my hdd from ps3 into pc thinking i can reformat it then try to reinstall in ps3 again.and it kept saying hd was too corrupt to format.WTF…im not crazy but this is just too can kiss my a$$. X box here i come.

  • bullet

    F u c k playstation

  • bullet

    Sony s u c k s major dick. Not only do i have a busted160g slim now.i also have an 80g ps3 phat that magically bit the dust after accepting an update via ps3 online from sony. I believe it was firmware update 3.55/3.56 cant recall.but i do recall how sh i tty sony was about giving me a refund when i called to complain that their update bricked my console.saying it had nothing to do with the update.yea fuhkin right. This from the same people who put a root key in music cds.go to h e double hockey stix sony.