In a fit of almost parity with the other madness going on in the gaming industry at the moment (following Valve *potentially* re-negging on the non-existent agreement to upgrade L4D4Free and Epic abandoning the PC for console lulz), Blizzard have announced that StarCraft 2 (sequel to probably the best selling RTS of the 20th century & quite possibly the choice poison of the South Korean dating scene) will not feature offline play over the trusty ol’ 100MB link AT ALL.
What started as rumour & speculation was confirmed by Blizzard in a response to Joystiq’s probing, with the company issuing this comment:
We don’t currently plan to support LAN play with StarCraft II, as we are building Battle.net to be the ideal destination for multiplayer gaming with StarCraft II and future Blizzard Entertainment games. While this was a difficult decision for us, we felt that moving away from LAN play and directing players to our upgraded Battle.net service was the best option to ensure a quality multiplayer experience with StarCraft II and safeguard against piracy.
Several Battle.net features like advanced communication options, achievements, stat-tracking, and more, require players to be connected to the service, so we’re encouraging everyone to use Battle.net as much as possible to get the most out of StarCraft II. We’re looking forward to sharing more details about Battle.net and online functionality for StarCraft II in the near future.
The keywords there being ‘safeguard against piracy’. Everyone who has been too a serious LAN party knows that it is a file-sharers paradise, whether its innocently copying the latest release just for a quick LAN session or full blown Game/Movie/Music/Porn P2P paradise.
The question in most gamers minds is ‘why’. Obviously, the company is protecting its interests, but when you consider a few points, it makes less sense…
- Like EA & The Sims 3, Blizzard know the game is going to sell in fairly large numbers regardless of what they do, so why risk alienating a large portion of the fan base who would probably have bought it anyway?
- Referring to point 1, Blizzard already make a mega-obscene amount of money from World of WarCraft, so why even worry about the loss when a huge portion of the fan base were built-in until this decision came out?
- The E-Sports movement was core to StarCraft’s popularity & longetivity. Will [Blizzards] promises of a rugged Battle.Net equivalent hold water when millions of people are going to want to use it, especially for the twitch gameplay required to play the game professionaly.
- Blizzard raised a cause for concern with the episodic format for the game. This removal of LAN gaming represents even less value than originally expected.
Is the merger with Activision starting to take its toll on another of gamings once ‘good guys’? Only time will tell!