Activision's accessibilitynegligence is demonstrated in the open beta of Modern Warfare 2

Activision's accessibilitynegligence is demonstrated in the open beta of Modern Warfare 2

The open beta for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 has come to an end. It was a trial I had experienced with open eyes, but I put a lot of hours into it. However, subsequent entries were diminished due to a drop in graphic quality, but I still want to see what Call of Duty offers.

Rather than knowing I have to devote hundreds of hours to the experience, I can fit in sessions across a wide spectrum of timeframes thanks to multiplayer matches lasting around 15 minutes and frequent checkpoints in the campaign.

It''s disappointing then that, in three years between Modern Warfare entries, accessibility does not appear to have improved. While what we''ve observed during the last two weekends has been limited to multiplayer, but the settings available informs what we''re expected to see in the full release.

That the beta immediately dropped the player into a marketing screen, without any instruction on how to leave, was not ideal. Over once, I attempted to back out and was booted back to the connection screen.

As a result of a small, vague availability on PlayStation 5, having access outside of a match was difficult in itself.

What options were offered included on colourblind filters and button remapping. Other aspects were more general. You may reduce motion blur and sharpen graphics (no amount of fiddling with which improved visibility for me), alter the FOV, and have incredible control over dead zones and look sensitivity. Also helpful, given the obfuscation of the beta''s menus, were options to alter the size of the UI and text.

There''sn''t much difference between the settings found in Modern Warfare 2019 and its sequel''s beta. Indeed, settings across the last three Call of Duty renditions have been quite similar, and there''s little indication in the beta that Modern Warfare 2 will offer anything but a basic level of accessibility, according to Game Accessibility Guidelines.

Infinity Ward has maintained throughout both recent entries in the series that it intends to encourage a variety of playstyles, something that has received criticism from a vocal, disgruntled core of current players. If this is the case, it might be beneficial to see some evidence.

I asked disabled gamers on Twitter for ideas on what this evidence might be, from their perspective. Various suggestions like aim assist, potential toggling, and sensitive adjustments are already implemented, at least partially.

Other types of damage sliders are, perhaps, difficult to balance in online multiplayer, but should be standard in single-player modes and private matches. However, these should be sliders and not the general presets found in previous iterations. So, too, is it jeopardy not to see options for single-stick mode, auto-movement, or screen-reading.

Infinity Ward''s response to feedback on the beta''s first weekend was incomplete. It''s conceivably that greater accessibility will be forthcoming.

It''s a lack of progress that suggests Infinity Ward and Activision aren''t understanding the relationship between its potential players'' capabilities and the obstacles they present in its games. Yes, these mechanics may play well in competitive environments. However, it''s leaving huge swaths of players behind with little effort to address the issues that are keyly established in the series.

For example, visibility in Call of Duty has been bleak for a while. Instead of adopting some form of contrast mode, Infinity Ward removed the namesplates from opposing players in the open beta, making visibility worse.

Perhaps, might this chafe against the realism many gamers crave? Perhaps, but a few weeks after the release, multiplayer will be inundated with cat ears and anime-inspired tracers. Sure, that''s part of why Activision might not go for it, given how lucrative selling skins is for the publisher. However, if it''s an option for players like me, it might be turned off.

This is coupled with the community''s persistent dissatisfied with diverse play styles, which, in itself, is a concern that does not improve accessibility. Many players are frustrated with the vocal appeals of Call of Duty. Instead, other approaches of play are more comfortable. For some, it''s about resolving my fears while reducing repetitive inputs.

We may slam Infinity Ward for the limited accessibility seen in the open beta, but we must also understand that the game''s surrounding community - and Activision''s relationship - isn''t helpful.

When you refuse to ensure adequate accessibility, it''s no longer about slow progress, but rather a deliberate exclusion of players, seemingly for the sake of retaining a core of vocal players who aren''t comfortable with accessibility and the re-incarnation of the series.

Because if there''s one thing Call of Duty fans fear - more than changes to their beloved mini-map, more than a person sitting in a corner - it''s a transform.

This may sound unnecessarily inflammatory, but if you''d spent as much time on Call of Duty meetings as I did researching this, you may feel less than frantic about a set of players who are stubbornly opposed to accessibility while they make awkward comments.

It''s a strange thing to note that Activision''s studios are more willing to cater to these groups than to as large a portion of the gaming population. Given how expensive Activision is, to exclude a huge potential market is, if nothing else, stupid.

It''s pretty clear that the IW engine isn''t built with that in mind, but the scope of accessibility in the open beta of Modern Warfare 2 is enormously limited.

It leaves a clear flaw that other studios may exploit to create a more open FPS in Call of Duty''s form, but one that addresses accessibility that Activision pointedly ignores. Perhaps Battlefield 2042''s disastrous attempt to attract angry Call of Duty supporters might put people off, but it''s clear there''s a lot of potential here.

Swamp, an audio first-person shooter, shows how accessibility, with the appropriate focus, can be improved even in a competitive FPS environment. Yes, I''m somewhat suspicious about some of the possibilities that Call of Duty has in place, but games like this demonstrate that accessibility, including slowdown, single-stick modes, should be standard in PvE modes in 2022. That''s unacceptable.

I envy those who can look at Modern Warfare 2''s open beta and complain about the minimap changes ruining their chances of ridiculeing inexperienced players. For me, the open beta was a sign of Activision''s persistent apathy for meaningful accessibility.

Despite Activision''s apparent inclination towards accessibility, Infinity Ward is sincere about appealing to more players. The open beta implies an ignorance about who those players are, and a maintenance of the fact that Call of Duty is still not for everyone. Even though it, and all gaming, should be.

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