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Treyarch, the studio behind upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops, has stealthily granted GameServers.com exclusive rights to provide Black Ops servers. They’re one of the largest providers in North America – but what does this mean for PC gamers elsewhere?

Various figures in the Call of Duty community, such as @JD_2020 and @PCDev, have posted about the deal on websites, forums and Twitter. But it appears no official announcement has been made from the studio, while GameServers.com has written a press release and is displaying the info on their site.

As Treyarch’s “trusted” server provider, GameServers.com will help insure server files won’t be made public. This, in the same way Modern Warfare 2 avoided dedicated servers altogether, will maintain control over the player’s experience.

Expect Treyarch to be more mod friendly that Infinity Ward was (although the inclusion of modes like GunGame shows they’re happy to take modders’ ideas as their own), but admins will only have access to a control panel with minimal options such as the number of allowed players, game mode, customisable perks, etc.

The future of dedicated servers on LAN is also uncertain, though Treyarch developer “PCDev” had this to say on his twitter:

The GameServers website already allows you to preorder Black Ops servers, with the message “Reserve your location by preordering your CoD: Black Ops server now”. It suggests the amount of servers may be limited, yet it could be just to create a sense of urgency.

The less control admins have over their servers, the harder it is to build a community. But the deal also has bad implications for latency:

Funnily enough, GameServers.com displays a green ping for the entire west coast. But even if there were a guarantee of lighting fast pings on the east coast, what about our Perth players? Doomed to a 60-100 ping? And will our servers be flooded with Southeast Asian players, already irate due to their pings?

Not too long ago in PC PowerPlay I predicted the possibility of Call of Duty games charging server admins for the right to host a CoD server. Could this be happening here indirectly? Could GameServers.com have bid for this middle-man monopoly?

Or is the benefit for Treyarch simply in maintaining total control over Black Ops multiplayer, having met us in the middle on the dedicated server issue? I’d like to know if there is any other game server provider out there that would earn the trust from Treyarch in the future.

Established in the year 2000 our 100% Tier 1 Network features providers such as Savvis, Internap, and Level 3. By specializing on the gamer market and eliminating lower tier providers such as Cogent typically used by hosting companies, GameServers.com ensures you always experience low latency performance for your Teamspeak, Ventrilo, or game server. Each of our locations utilizes Gigabit Fiber links (1000Mbps or the capacity of 650 T1 lines combined) to deliver optimal ping no matter how busy your server is. To ensure reliability, our staff monitors our network around the clock to eliminate any performance anomalies and to ensure our bandwidth capacity is never over 50% utilized at peak!

Our company is staffed around the clock with dedicated and friendly technicians ready to assist you with any problem you have. And when things are running well, they don’t sit around – they monitor our network to make sure it is running at peak performance.

Game Server Problems — This is our number one priority. Server Down? Server Misconfiguration? Server performing below standards? No problem – our technicians are here to make sure you have a problem free operation.

Advanced Server Administration — New to administering your server? Our friendly support staff will help point you to all the right F.A.Q. for your game as well as the popular plugins and 3rd party mods available for your server. See what mods we support by viewing your specific game.

Select Website 3rd Party Software — Our technicians will help you install popular software titles like phpBB (forums) and phpNuke (news, etc).