Sledgehammer Games are making the MP aspect of MW3 (IW are making the SP and Coop aspect). This is a blog from Sledgehammer's COO Michael Condrey:
“Sledgehammer. I’m a huge PC guy. Please tell me more about MW3 on the PC. I know there’ll be dedicated servers but what will that truly mean?”
MW3 on the PC is going to be a great game and we are excited to launch it day and date with the consoles on November 8, 2011. There is a ton of work being done to ensure the PC experience is fantastic. Dedicated servers is a big feature that fans have been vocally asking about since its absence in MW2. Erik Strickland, Principal Engineer, is leading the effort. Let's ask him for some of his insight... Erik?
We believe that Modern Warfare 3 match-making delivers a best-in-class competitive experience on consoles as well as PC. For users who want deep customization and control on PC we’re also supporting free-to-download, free-to-run dedicated servers on launch day. Using familiar tools, admins can download and run servers on their own hardware, customizing access, game rules and map rotation to their liking.
We’re embracing the Steam platform. From both the Steam and game clients, users can: browse, join, and favorite these servers; send and accept invites; everything just as you’d expect. For gameplay customization MW3 dedicated servers leverage our recipe system to allow admins to finely tune gameplay without trial-and-error fiddling. Of course, server admins will have all the tools they expect - access control by IP/password, player kicking/banning, remote console access, etc…
In short, we are bringing back the features of Call of Duty 4's dedicated servers that the community has requested, and we hope everyone will be excited by the outcome – let us know on November 8th!
So, that confrims a 2-tier system for PC MW3: matchmaking (probably on a new version of IWNet); and public dedicated server files free to download.
The "familiar tools" he talks about sounds like HLDS (Half Life Dedicated Server tool, a standard Valve tool to setup a dedicated server which hooks in to Steam), since I don't know any other "familiar tool" in connection with Steam and dedicated servers.
What worries me is not that they are using a 2-tier system (the noobs are welcome to their matchmaking), but that developing such a system has meant technical limitations, so that they have to drop aspects of the game we dedicated server fans think are essential to the game - like LEAN for example. This was dropped from MW2 because there are technical difficulties using lean over a Peer2Peer backbone. I just hope it doesn't mean the same for MW3.
However, this I do like this bit:
customizing access, game rules and map rotation to their liking
So, no more forced-playlist type rotations, and no more 5 minute matches, with stupidly low scorelimits.