From Dan Amrich's blog:
Now, after listening to players, IW and Sledgehammer will try the first method again. Modern Warfare 3 will feature free, run-it-yourself COD4-style dedicated server support because the hardcore fans have been very clear (if not terribly polite) in their feedback. As the saying goes, give the people what they want. I’m happy to see it.
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!
Only matchmaking to public games are Ranked (meaning, you have to rank up to unlock weapons to rank on the leaderboards), choosing to play on a Dedicated Server is UnRanked.
So what you’re saying is that nobody’s going to be playing on dedicated servers because they want to rank up and prestige.
He clarifies that all unlocks can be customized on the servers, but still. This is not what people wanted when they asked for dedicated servers. Sigh.
However, the PC gaming community is one that pays to enjoy full levels of customization and control without the sacrifice of gameplay elements. To give them dedicated servers yet take away the ability to rank up anywhere outside of public play spaces is a slight against their commitment to the platform. Balance or not, PC gamers are likely very frustrated by this news.
The console gaming side remains unaffected.
This is the same type of thing that happened last year and partially, the year before that. Personally, I didn't think Dedicated Servers would return anyway and I thought if they did, it would be the same as Black Ops so I wasn't that interested in MW3. I figured I knew what to expect already.
I'm always checking out gaming news in various places and news pops up about dedicated servers returning to MW3. I said to myself "yea, yea...whatever". Just a bit later, everyone was spreading news that there would be MW3 dedicated servers like CoD4. I went looking for true confirmation and I ended up finding the links and tweets confirming that the servers would be like CoD4. To say that there would be dedicated servers is one thing, but to say a return CoD4 styled servers is huge.
A lot of us run and rent dedicated servers and to see this, I said "After 2 years of 'wtf', we can now finally return to CoD". I was letting our site and other friend sites know the news and we were arranging for donations for the cause. People were getting back on board. There were still some questions it seemed, but I didn't think they mattered because when you say "CoD4 styled", we think the norm. We think leveling up and unlocking as well as different mods, low ping, etc.
Now, the news that was floating around was will the servers be ranked (progressive unlocks, leveling up), or unranked (no unlocks or leveling). Black Ops had left a bad, tricky feeling behind and so I was getting skeptical also. This question was one of the biggest questions and I couldn't believe it was because I see "CoD4" and I think of what it is. People still want to enjoy the game. They still want to save classes they've created, rank up, unlock things, do challenges, etc., CoD4 style, on a dedicated server.
When being led on like this with wordplay and hype for the media and no clear communication with the PC audience, the result is what you see in this forum. It also always seems to happen a few weeks before release, starting with MW2.
Maybe there's hope. It sure is hard to tell these days.