Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II fully launched on October 28 on consoles and PC via Steam and Battle.net. Initially, like many Steam games, it supported the service’s Family Sharing function. Though as of yesterday, folks looking to share a single copy of the latest CoD on Steam won’t be too happy as Activision disabled the service just three short days after launch.
Steam Family Sharing has been around for a while. The service does what the name suggests: You can share a single digital copy of a game with up to five people you select, typically family or close friends. The service has its own limits and restrictions, such as not allowing two individual accounts to play the same game at the same time. Though Modern Warfare II shipped with this feature enabled, an entry on SteamDB reveals that as of October 31, the game was retroactively excluded from sharing features.
Kotaku has reached out to Activision for comment.
Reaction across the community has been a mix of confusion at the timing, speculation it was done to curb cheating concerns, and frustration from those who were planning to use the feature, particularly to save money and avoid purchasing multiple copies of a $70 game.
“I own the game on Steam and I work. I can’t play as much as my younger cousin can and neither of us want to play on the same account cause we got our own level, classes, friends, etc.” reads one comment on Reddit. “This sucks” starts another “my nephew plays MW2 while I’m away at work through Family share. The game is just too expensive to justify another copy right now.”
Others express that they’d have been fine with sharing services turned off, but would’ve preferred it to not have been done at the last minute, after many have spent money on the game. “This should’ve been a move done prior to its release—before people went [past] the 2 hour limit. [...] the only way I justified this game 101$ CAD price tag was if my younger brother (who was hyped for it more than me) also got to play ON THE SAME PC” reads one such opinion.
Some speculate that the decision to pull support for this feature has to do with Activision’s strict anti-cheat policies for CoD, as, in theory, one could use the feature to bounce between smurf accounts. MWII does feature strict anti-cheat measures such as the requirement of a contract-based phone number for verification as well as kernel-level software. That said, Team Ricochet, CoD’s anti-cheat team, has otherwise been transparent with the decisions they’ve made to keep cheaters out of the game.
If disabling Family Sharing on Steam was a part of these efforts, Team Ricochet has yet to have provided a statement on this.