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The Evolution of Multiplayer Games and Online Play 244

Posted by Soulskill
from the lan-of-the-lost dept.
Ranga14 writes "The recently announced Command & Conquer 4 seems to be following the same path of Blizzard's Starcraft 2 in having no LAN/offline multiplayer. They will require users to be logged in at all times to even be able to play any facet of the game. What will this mean for LAN parties, gaming events and those who don't play online? Is this a sound business decision, or do EA & Blizzard not get that this method of attempting to thwart piracy will fail like others have?"
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The Evolution of Multiplayer Games and Online Play

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  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @07:13AM (#28688681)

    I think it's a wrong move, but not because of LAN parties. LAN parties used to be a thing when internet was scarce, connections were slow and often you also had metered lines that only let you transfer so much traffic per month. Today, with bandwitdths that break the mbit borders easily and often hover about 10mbit, carrying your computer somewhere is, at best, something you'd do for special occasions. Events, maybe sponsored, where you may even win a prize for being good. Not just "getting together to play".

    My argument against those mandatory online services is simple: What if the company ceases to exist or ceases to support the product? Good bye multiplayer (or even singleplayer)? Today I could still fire up a game of Starcraft, locally or through the internet, I needn't connect with BattleNet (let's assume it ever went away), I could play SC for as long as there is TCP/IP v4 around. Dunno if it works with v6, someone would have to try.

    Tying a game to its maker essentially results in a better rental version. And I refuse to pay premium for renting a game.

    • LAN parties used to be a thing when internet was scarce, connections were slow and often you also had metered lines that only let you transfer so much traffic per month.

      This is still the case for satellite and mobile broadband in the United States.

      I refuse to pay premium for renting a game.

      Are you willing to give up video gaming altogether once all the major publishers of PC games have switched to this business model?

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @07:47AM (#28688853)

        I guess that's the fate I have to face, unless some get smart and realize that I'd buy their games if they didn't rely on a rental system.

      • by mlts (1038732) * on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @07:52AM (#28688883)

        The question is more of how much can the PC gaming community can take. First, it was more intrusive DRM, then activation, now its having to be online just to play a single player campaign.

        I'm seeing an attitude in the game industry that is an off-putter. Yes, the economy in most of the world stinks, but instead of trying to jumpstart sales by putting out some innovative IP, I see the grip tightening over what stuff comes out. This creates a feedback loop because gamers either will just crack whatever protection something had (patch out DRM, make a server emulator), pirate the game, or just give the game company the finger and go back to playing WoW and not bother buying any works that are less functional than the previous versions.

        What this does is create an opportunity for a small game company to take the market by storm by making a quality game that ends up widespread and played everywhere. This is how ID Software (and its predecessor, Apogee) got started. Yes, a lot of copies will be pirated, but a lot of times, pirated copies lead to bought copies. Right now, this market is ignored because of the white-hot iPhone app market, but once that hits saturation (could be six months to a year), people will want to have fun PC games again, and an indie software house could do well in all likelihood.

        For new games, the barrier to entry is low, and it is high. It is low because almost anyone can write code, get an Authenticode signing key from MS, get an account with RegNow to handle registrations, then use Tucows or download.com as the main place where customers can download the executable. The barrier to entry is high because users are expecting 3D, theater quality graphics and sound at every turn. The days of writing a generic top-down RPG along the lines of Final Fantasy Legends are long over, unless one is writing an iPhone app. So, an indie publisher will have to deal with that by having gameplay so good it overshadows dated graphics.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tridus (79566)

          "Yes, a lot of copies will be pirated, but a lot of times, pirated copies lead to bought copies."

          And a lot of times, it doesn't. Pretty risky market to get into when you "might" be able to do better then a 90% piracy rate.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mlts (1038732) *

            It is risky, but there are not many alternatives. A game company can:

            Get a license to have their stuff on a console where piracy isn't an issue. This takes a lot of dough to get developer's access to this market.
            Get an agreement to put titles on Steam. This also is cost prohibitive for smaller game writing companies unless they score a publisher.
            Go with vigorous DRM which will help their first week or two sales, but will turn off legit users when the bad press mounts up.
            Go with no DRM, and grumble about

            • by Malevolyn (776946)

              Get a license to have their stuff on a console where piracy isn't an issue.

              Since when is this not an issue? Enabling backups on the Wii is almost trivial, these days. And modchip installation is only getting easier.

          • by hedwards (940851)
            Citation necessary on that. The reality is that a game is going to be pirated whether the developer does something about it or not, but adding many tens of thousands of dollars. That's a huge number of games one would have to sell just to break even. Additionally there's been at least one study out that suggests pretty strongly that DRM itself causes a goodly chunk of piracy.

            In other words, they'd probably have better luck if they weren't besmirching their own image by cracking down on people that are tr
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Trouvist (958280)
              I think you need to read up on Steam. Personally I like it, though it does definitely have its pitfalls. However, the main point you argue about it (thinking you would lose access to it, is negated by the ability to burn ANY of the games you download to a CD/DVD and you also have access to the cd-keys that come with YOUR game). If you want references:
              http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=892928/ [steampowered.com]
              Also, offline works great for some games. I have bought Fallout 3 through steam but I don'
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by torkus (1133985)

              Forget research, just look back at the client count for the Spore torrents. For a week or two there was 10-20k concurrent leechers and nearly as many seeders. For anyone who doesn't remember, Spore made the news for some of the most restrictive DRM on a PC game to date - and the backlash resulted in them loosening the restrictions on several follow-up games including (go figure) C&C 3.

          • "Yes, a lot of copies will be pirated, but a lot of times, pirated copies lead to bought copies."

            And a lot of times, it doesn't. Pretty risky market to get into when you "might" be able to do better then a 90% piracy rate.

            I have seen several studies indicating that people who pirate IP, also buy more IP. On the other hand, unless you have some evidence suggesting otherwise, I believe that if you have a 90% piracy rate, it is because your software sucks and no one who has tried it thinks it is worth any money.

        • by Ash Vince (602485)

          The question is more of how much can the PC gaming community can take. First, it was more intrusive DRM, then activation, now its having to be online just to play a single player campaign.

          No, the question is what alternatives are there and can EA buy them and then bring them into line. EA is always to go behave like this. Even if you have a different idea of how a game should play you still need EA or their ilk to distribute the physical copies.

          The most promising invention to end this may well actually turn out to be Steam since they seam to have a much better attitude to their customers but that does not quite seem to have reached the penetration it needs to do this.

          • by tepples (727027)

            Even if you have a different idea of how a game should play you still need EA or their ilk to distribute the physical copies.

            Only if you don't count online downloads (for cable/DSL users) or CDs by mail (for dial-up, satellite, and mobile broadband users).

          • by hedwards (940851)
            Steam isn't that much better, they do pretty actively clamp down on the second market and have definitely been known to deactivate entire accounts because somebody bought a couple of games on the second market.
        • by fractalus (322043)

          You are assuming that the current crop of game publishers gives a rat's ass about the PC market. They don't. They see the entire PC market as a den of thieves just waiting to copy their precious IP, and it's a tiny fraction of the size of the console market. Higher risk, vastly smaller return on investment, it's a no-brainer for them in a business sense: skip it. This is why they can justify trying to boil the frog by upping the DRM ante all the time--they don't really care that much if they lose the market

          • Citation needed (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tepples (727027)

            the entire PC market [...] it's a tiny fraction of the size of the console market.

            I'd like to see your source that the PC gaming market is a tiny fraction of the PLAYSTATION 3 gaming market. Or are you taking all the mutually incompatible consoles and lumping them into one market?

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          The barrier to entry is high because users are expecting 3D, theater quality graphics and sound at every turn.

          Except that doesn't explain the popularity of games like Plants vs Zombies.

        • by Malevolyn (776946)

          ...now its having to be online just to play a single player campaign.

          Don't forget requiring gamers to buy each campaign separately.

        • give the game company the finger and go back to playing WoW

          I agree with the rest, but a game that's not on a monthly subscription plan might have made a better example...

        • by hemp (36945)

          I seem to remember eagerly awaiting ID's shareware release of Doom to my favorite BBS.

      • Are you willing to give up video gaming altogether once all the major publishers of PC games have switched to this business model?

        I'd be much more willing to get into reverse engineering, actually.

        • I'd be much more willing to get into reverse engineering, actually.

          How much does it cost to move from the United States, home of Slashdot and EA and myself, to a developed country without a tradition of vexatious litigation against reverse engineers?

          • by Cimexus (1355033)

            The cost is substantial depending on if you want to move all your stuff with you (especially big stuff like beds, couches etc). I've moved countries a couple of times and the shipping of your stuff is generally the most expensive part (plus it will take 1-3 months to get there via ocean transport depending on where you're going). The next biggest cost is usually the visa application and processing fees (this varies from country to country, and generally you pay even if your application is not successful). A

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300)

      Most companies when they go out of business especially one of any particular size they get bought out and sold to different companies/organizations. So if say Blizzard went out of business you may be able to setup a NFP Fund to buy BattleNet. for them and relicense it (You may not be able to GPL the code) or give it away to others. If a company is going out of business they are usually fairly open to selling stuff to you.

      LAN Games have the problem with demographics now. Most people don't know when the LAN

      • by prefect42 (141309) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @07:27AM (#28688747)

        There's also a trend of all assets being bought by another company, who then overvalues each individual asset such that this sort of venture can't happen.

      • Also it is not a heavily used feature as you said about LAN Parties are obsolete.

        I agree that LAN parties are obsolete, though for an entirely different reason. Picture this situation: you have friends at your home, and you all happen to have the itch to play a video game. They don't have their PCs with them for any of several reasons:

        1. They didn't anticipate wanting to play a video game before they left.
        2. They aren't allowed to dismantle the family PC. (I see this a lot because I babysit.)
        3. Their PCs are laptops without a powerful enough graphics chip to play a recent first-person shooter. (This is becoming more common with the rise of Eee PC and other low-cost subnotebooks.)

        The solution came in three pieces:

        1. In 1996, Nintendo added third and fourth controller ports to its Nintendo 64 video game console.
        2. In 1999, USB allowed connecting multiple gamepads to a computer through a hub.
        3. In 2008, television-sized LCD monitors became affordable, freeing from having to choose a laptop carefully to get SDTV out or buy and install an aftermarket video card to get SDTV out because HDTVs can display the VGA signals that PCs already put out.

        So LAN parties, which had been popular throughout the eras of Doom and Quake, eventually became less necessary because friends can sit on the sofa and play console or HTPC games together.

        • In 1999, USB allowed connecting multiple gamepads to a computer through a hub.

          With Gravis GrIP you could hook up multiple gamepads on a single PC joystick port, this was released in 1996 iirc.

        • by Saxerman (253676) *

          Don't propagate this myth. Hell, my Atari 400 came with 4 joystick ports. We had a multi-tap for our SNES so you could play 4 player games. That isn't new, and yet once we had our own PCs, we still went to LAN parties.

          You can't play all games crowded around the same monitor. For some you really want your own audio/visual source so you're NOT all tied to one another in the same location. Playing games of 8 player X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter or Starcraft or Age of Empires, or 16 player Counter-Strike or Rai

          • Hell, my Atari 400 came with 4 joystick ports.

            I don't count the 8-bits because they barely had enough palette colors for two players + enemies, let alone four.

            We had a multi-tap for our SNES so you could play 4 player games.

            The NES, Super NES, PlayStation, and PlayStation 2 had hubs for gamepads. But these hubs often didn't come out until one or more years after the console's release, and apart from games such as Bomberman that were bundled with a hub, programmers couldn't depend on one being present. That's why the N64, Dreamcast, GameCube, and Xbox had more games that actually used four gamepads.

            You have fond m

        • by poetmatt (793785)

          Lan parties have never been obsolete. What do you call 4 people getting together to play a video game, or maybe 2 or 3 consoles getting together to play?

          Now what if these are say Xbox consoles with diablo 3, which now have to get online to play?

          Guess you're screwed then, huh?

          Your reasoning is just off in all ways. Lan parties still exist for tons of reasons such as a: people want to game together and b: some people either don't have the bandwidth to game remotely (but have the PC) or people I don't know, en

          • by tepples (727027)

            Lan parties have never been obsolete.

            I overstated. All I meant is that they're less necessary now that 4-player sofa gaming is possible on PC, Xbox 360, Wii, and PLAYSTATION 3.

            What do you call 4 people getting together to play a video game

            I call it a "brawl". Getting started with Wii multiplayer costs $500 for a TV, $250 for a console, $120 for controllers, and $50 for a game. It's a lot cheaper than mouse-and-keyboard games, which typically need a separate $400 PC, $200 monitor, and $40 copy of the game for each player.

            Now what if these are say Xbox consoles with diablo 3, which now have to get online to play?

            Unless it's an MMORPG like Final Fantasy XI, Microsoft will probably mandate that each

            • by poetmatt (793785)

              What do you think MS is going to do when it's Blizzard's decision? Do you think they're going to write a strongly worded letter?

              • Now what if these are say Xbox consoles with diablo 3, which now have to get online to play?

                Microsoft will probably mandate that each developer include at least a single-player mode

                What do you think MS is going to do when it's Blizzard's decision?

                Microsoft can choose not to sign the binary. Unsigned binaries don't run on retail consoles.

                • by poetmatt (793785)

                  well, that sure is wonderful. However, with a company as huge as blizzard you really think MS has more clout than them?

                  Easy answer: blizzard can almost crap out a turd and people will pay for it, ala nintendo at this point. Thus, MS isn't going to do squat about a game refusing lan support. It won't even be a blip on their radar no matter what game it is.

                  • by tepples (727027)

                    MS isn't going to do squat about a game refusing lan support.

                    Except require it to be developed for Windows instead of for Xbox 360.

        • The solution came in three pieces: In 1996, Nintendo added third and fourth controller ports to its Nintendo 64 video game console.

          This is besides the point, but I can think of at least one system that had 4 joystick ports, the Atari 800, almost 2 decades before this :)

          • by tepples (727027)

            I can think of at least one system that had 4 joystick ports, the Atari 800, almost 2 decades before this :)

            I included the Nintendo 64 instead of the Atari 800 for two reasons: First, the graphics chips on 8-bit computers tended to lack the palette colors for four distinct player character uniforms. But perhaps more importantly, Atari was so mismanaged at the time that the Atari 800 computer didn't have a chance to make nearly the same impact on players' expectations.

        • by DarthVain (724186)

          I disagree. I see no reason that LAN parties would be obsolete. However the make up has changed.

          Two things have changed. One is the industry sells a shit ton of laptops now, and for many years now, more lap tops than desktops. If anything this trend would see MORE LAN parties than ever before, if only because everyone is more portable now. The second thing is the people who might participate in LAN parties are more "mainstream" if you will, and are probably less tech savvy and don't care all that much about

      • Just because a company is bought out it doesn't mean that whoever buys it will honor their "old" games and their players. Quite the opposite. Most of the buyouts care for IP, not for released games and (god forbid!) actually supporting them.

        They don't want you to be able to play $good_game, made by the company they bought out. They want you to go buy $good_game 2 that they just released, which is essentially the same game with new graphics, but now from the new company. And now they can also make you do tha

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kentaree (1078787)
      I frequent a netcafe where a bunch of my pals go and we very often play games like Counterstrike, Left4Dead on the LAN. I also remember having lots of fun playing C&C:Generals with a single one of my friends over LAN. Nothing beats hurling insults across the room to people you've just shot/been shot by, and the level of fun is huge. Of course now you could setup an online passworded game to only allow your friends to join, but that'll start to eat bandwidth really quickly...
    • Pffft, I've been going to LAN parties for years, heck I used to organise them. There were some initial teething problems with steam, CSS, TF2 etc requiring an internet connection to play, and everyone rocking up needing updates. But these days? Nah, needing an internet connection seems normal now.
    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @08:05AM (#28688971)

      Tying a game to its maker essentially results in a better rental version. And I refuse to pay premium for renting a game.

      And that is what this is really about. Content Producers (music, movie, and software publishers) don't want to sell you content any longer, they want to rent it to you. The problem with selling content is that you have to keep coming up with new content in order to ensure a revenue stream. If I can get you to pay me a rental fee (that's not what they call it), I can generate an ongoing revenue stream off of one killer product.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ash Vince (602485)

      My argument against those mandatory online services is simple: What if the company ceases to exist or ceases to support the product? Good bye multiplayer (or even singleplayer)? Today I could still fire up a game of Starcraft, locally or through the internet, I needn't connect with BattleNet (let's assume it ever went away), I could play SC for as long as there is TCP/IP v4 around. Dunno if it works with v6, someone would have to try.

      Basically, tough shit. They make a product you can use it with the strings they attach or not bother. That is how things work.

      This is probably also by design anyway since by retiring the servers for old games at an opportune time they can force you to buy a copy of C&C 5 when that is released. How do you think they have managed to sell what is basically the same game play over and over again. I have probably played every C&C game from the first Dune game they did in the 90s through to the latest Tib

      • by PhilHibbs (4537)

        My argument against those mandatory online services is simple: What if the company ceases to exist or ceases to support the product?

        Basically, tough shit. They make a product you can use it with the strings they attach or not bother.

        Well that's the whole point of this article, they will lose sales if they move to an online model. Some friends of mine have 2 PCs, one they use for internet access, and one that is offline 99% of the time but can be plugged into the LAN. They don't have a router, so only one of their PCs can be online at a time. Anyone in this situation will only buy one copy of a game, and will not be able to play with their partner or friend.

    • College lans.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plasmacutter (901737)

      Dormitories in college tend to be amazing places for mass lan parties.

      Back in 03 in my last year in a standard dormitory I remember whole floors engaging in multiplayer FPS and RTS games, doors open, taunting, cheering, and having fun.

      This move is indeed dumb, especially given the ever tightening noose on college gateways.

      If no patch is made to incorporate lan play into the game, it simply will not be used by a heavy portion of the target demographic for lack of feasibility.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Dormitories in college tend to be amazing places for mass lan parties.

        But when you graduate, marry, and have kids, will you have the money to keep five PCs upgraded, one for you, your spouse, and each of your children?

      • by ubrgeek (679399)
        > I remember whole floors engaging in multiplayer FPS and RTS games, doors open, taunting, cheering, and having fun

        I always wanted to visit the University of Florida campus ;)
    • by vertinox (846076)

      When was the last LAN party you went to?

      Hrm... Come to think of it, I haven't been to a LAN party since 2002? Then came the career, girlfriend, family...

      Wait a minute, this is a trick to make me feel old isn't it?!

    • by ckaminski (82854)
      My friends and I have one nearly every month. Mostly it's an excuse for us all to get together, drink, frag a bit, and socialize. Call it an indoor BBQ. It's pretty much the ONLY gaming I do all month.
    • by Krneki (1192201)
      It's the same as DRM, some doesn't care and eventually they get cut off. I buy only stuff I can use when and where I want.
    • by Krneki (1192201)
      Just get an offline crack.
  • what will happen to co-op?

    • by Fozzyuw (950608)

      Left 4 Dead is a great co-op. There's also a similar genre PC game from Steam called "Killing Floor", but I've never tried it. Left 4 Dead 2 will be having the same Co-op. I guess you can consider every MMO a co-op game. But as far as RTS, there's not been a whole lot in that category for a while. I just finished Bioshock and while that would have been awesome with a co-op feature, it just wouldn't have been the same. Of course, we're talking PC games. The new Ghostbusters game has great Co-op featur

  • If you can't play the game except through their online service, I assume they're not actually charging you for the game software itself?

    No, of course not. They'd never double-charge people for a game, would they?

    • by Kentaree (1078787)
      They haven't so far, as their service is free, however, looking at something like XBox Live (which, admittedly, has a lot more games than EA's service would ever have), a small payment for quality mightn't be a bad thing either
      • by Talderas (1212466)

        Quality is not a word I would use in combination with XBox Live.

      • by Malevolyn (776946)
        That said, I've never really had any major problems with PSN. At least, no more than I've had with Live. The games don't even cost more, only the console. I actually don't mind paying more for the console, considering Blu-ray and free online play. After the price of a 360 and a couple years of Live, you've hit the price of the PS3 (and not the cheapest one, either). But this comment is all opinion. So carry on.
    • I think your point is accurate. I am absolutely certain the eventual goal is to squeeze money out of every second of time the gamers play the game, and the first step towards that goal is to have a means to account for all the time played.

      What was free must now be monetized... how else can the business grow?

  • Summary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cowboy76Spain (815442) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @07:40AM (#28688827)
    Don't you love it when the summary already tells you which is your position? I mean, the editor may think it is not a good move, it will alienate users, and so on, but alright claiming that

    do EA & Blizzard not get that this method of attempting to thwart piracy will fail like others have?

    leaves little room for opinion. Makes you wonder why do they let us comment at all, since the truth has already been established.
  • by Ash Vince (602485) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @07:47AM (#28688857) Journal

    If they really have taken this decision as a measure to prevent piracy I am not sure why the summary above is so sure it will fail. Sure, the game will still be pirated and will still be available on the Pirate Bay in no time however this measure will probably reduce piracy.

    If I was required to buy a legal licensed copy of the game to play online I probably would. The alternative is I download a hack that enables me to play a pirated copy, but if they ever patch the game or server to detect this hack that is massive risk as they have a permanent record me having used a hack.

    My favourite online game is Americas Army. If you do well on my server I will look you up on this site (http://www.aa-accounthistory.com/). If I see a linked banned account, your gone and added to my server as a MAC ban. Since this history site links accounts by IP, MAC and the GUID associated with your account getting a banned account listed on it can be a right pain. To be thoroughly clear you may need to change you IP if you have a static address and also use a MAC changer (or buy a new network card).

    To play any game well online takes practice. If you are going to download a pirated copy and then play until you get caught and your account banned that practice is wasted since any sort of online league play is out of the question. Also, if they implement a similar history tracking site then you may find you a new legal account from a bought copy is also banned as it is associated with a hacked previous illegal copy. There is nothing legally wrong with this as the shrink wrapped licence you have to agree to when you install the software probably mentions this could happen.

    Ultimately this is what they are aiming for, they do not want to stop all piracy of their game since that is obviously impossible. They do want to keep it to a minimum by preventing illegal copies from being able to play online and hence they people using them will miss out on a large part of the gameplay. This is a major reason why game companies are moving towards games that involve an online component, it gives people an added reason to buy a legit copy.

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @08:16AM (#28689031) Homepage

      this measure will probably reduce piracy

      Super. Now, will it increase sales?

    • by bhsx (458600)
      I agree 100% and will add a bit more:
      If I were to develop a game, it would require logging into a central server to play. Plain and simple it's (currently) the ONLY way to cut down on warez/pirates in today's age. To develop a single-player "style" game, I'd still include online components to make a game that is dynamic and changes each time you play it. Spore did this to a degree that I would take even further. Use entropy pools of data from other online players to change the way the AI reacts in cert
  • by RaigetheFury (1000827) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @07:48AM (#28688865)

    This will only encourage people to build add-ons for the game that allow LAN play. Its happened with dozens of games and frankly this is just plain stupid.

    LANS are there for people to get together and have a good time. A LOT of people use wireless connections in their house and that shit is attrocious for LAN play. You can say what you want, but most home hardware that people buy just isn't designed for 6+ people gaming over the internet at the same time. Forget the connection... just the hardware.

    A $20 hub lets 10 people play in a LAN where it costs a lot more to setup the same level of connection over the internet in one location. You can try to argue with me but the fact is you're wrong.

    I love LANS. People in the same room, talking smack, eating pizza, it's so much better than being on a headset talking over ventrilo. You can see their expressions when you nail em or overwhelm their defenses... It's also being able to come to a physical location, and as we get older, there are no kids, no annoying significant others (we have women in our group so saying wives would be wrong) who keep interrupting. They are there and not being hit with interruptions.

    I've lost all real desire to play SC2. I was so excited about it... but the whole point of SC2 is playing with friends and removing LAN play removes half of the reason I play games like that. Sure... we can play online... but it limits us, or requires us to move equipment to other parts of the house so we can all hook up to the router physically since wireless is terrible, and most of us don't have wireless cards for our Desktops. Any gamer who thinks they can beat me while using a laptop is in for one hell of a spanking.

    • People in the same room, talking smack

      I read that as "taking smack" ! I'd have thought speed was the drug of choice amongst LAN party-goers.

    • I remember when a hub cost a lot more than $20 and broadband was a novelty. Back then, my friends and I would get together and hook our computers up via our serial ports using crossover cables to play Starcraft! Blizzard really went out of their way to give you lots of options for multiplay, and even the stranger ones (like serial-port daisychaining) had their uses.
    • Also, don't forget that for Starcraft the LAN connection is necessary for proper micromanagement of units (mutalisks in particular). My guess is that the games with the best fan support will quickly see mods that allow for LAN play. The games that see less fan support will likely suffer in the long run.
    • Hubs? Good luck finding a new hub retail, period. You'll pretty much only be finding switches these days (at that same price point, however).

  • by sargon666777 (555498) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @07:49AM (#28688873) Homepage
    This is a risky move on their part. If you want an example of what can occur when a company does something like this, and then decides that it may not be as profitable as it hopes look no further than Steel Battalion: Line of Contact from Capcom. That game was only out for right about 1 year before they shut down the campaign servers. After that a large portion of the game became unplayable. I doubt the Command & Conquer franchise will die, but I would be willing to venture a guess that in a few years the game may no longer be playable once the company realizes they have no obligation to keep these servers up and running.
  • by Tridus (79566) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @07:56AM (#28688915) Homepage

    The commentary added to the bottom of the summary is wrong. This has a good chance of success at thwarting piracy.

    The goal of anti-piracy measures is never to eliminate 100% of piracy until the end of time. That's nearly impossible, and they know it. What they really want to do is make it so that either you can't pirate it for the frst little while, or that you don't want to. Having no functional online play whatsoever in the pirated version is a pretty effective way of making the pirated version worse then the retail version. (That's the opposite strategy of stuff like SecuROM, which generally makes the retail version worse then the pirated version.)

    LAN functionality is a real problem in that department now, because it's used primarily for pirates to play on Hamachi (and the like) with each other. Remove it from the game entirely, and the pirates no longer have to simply bypass SecuROM or an offline disk check. They have to emulate Battle.net in order to get any multiplayer working.

    Will they do that eventually? Absolutely. Will they do that within the first 2 week sales rush? Highly unlikely. If it takes them a couple months before the pirated versions have online play, then by the standard of what the companies are trying to do, it's a successful anti-piracy measure.

    As usual, you crooks who rip off games because you want free stuff are just screwing it up for everybody else.

    • The commentary added to the bottom of the summary is wrong. This has a good chance of success at thwarting piracy.

      The goal of anti-piracy measures is never to eliminate 100% of piracy until the end of time. That's nearly impossible, and they know it. What they really want to do is make it so that either you can't pirate it for the frst little while, or that you don't want to. Having no functional online play whatsoever in the pirated version is a pretty effective way of making the pirated version worse then the retail version. (That's the opposite strategy of stuff like SecuROM, which generally makes the retail version worse then the pirated version.)

      LAN functionality is a real problem in that department now, because it's used primarily for pirates to play on Hamachi (and the like) with each other. Remove it from the game entirely, and the pirates no longer have to simply bypass SecuROM or an offline disk check. They have to emulate Battle.net in order to get any multiplayer working.

      Will they do that eventually? Absolutely. Will they do that within the first 2 week sales rush? Highly unlikely. If it takes them a couple months before the pirated versions have online play, then by the standard of what the companies are trying to do, it's a successful anti-piracy measure.

      As usual, you crooks who rip off games because you want free stuff are just screwing it up for everybody else.

      one word: bnetd

      just because the court ruled against it doesnt mean it's not still there in underground circles and bit torrent sites, still under development by altruistic white-hats.

      If they disable lan play they'll simply install bnetd on an old box and spoof a local server.

      So yes, it will fail miserably at its goal and alienate vast swaths of the customer base with high latency satellite service and those behind ever restricted university gateways.

      • by Tridus (79566)

        So, you've got a copy of bnetd working with Starcraft 2?

        Will you have one within the first couple weeks of the game being released?

        Probably not, in which case everything I said is true. Eventually there will be one that can do that, and the game companies know it. Their goal is to block piracy in the early period where they can get the most sales and make the most money. The goal isn't to block piracy 3 months from release (that'd be a bonus if they actually did it).

        • So, you've got a copy of bnetd working with Starcraft 2?

          Will you have one within the first couple weeks of the game being released?

          Probably not, in which case everything I said is true. Eventually there will be one that can do that, and the game companies know it. Their goal is to block piracy in the early period where they can get the most sales and make the most money. The goal isn't to block piracy 3 months from release (that'd be a bonus if they actually did it).

          this is bunk.

          pirates and people who simply cannot feasibly handle the latency will not buy the product, and will wait out the hack.

          it happened with psobb, among many many other titles.

          do keep spewing the party line though, i'm sure whichever lobbyping/pr firm which hired you for your low userid will give you a bonus.

          • by Tridus (79566)

            "do keep spewing the party line though, i'm sure whichever lobbyping/pr firm which hired you for your low userid will give you a bonus."

            Oh please. What I wouldn't give for an eyeroll emoticon right now.

            Among the pirates are a group of crack addict gamer types who want to play, and will buy the game if the pirate option doesn't work. Those are lost sales. The number of them is > 0. The number isn't the same as the total number of downloads or something stupid like that, and I don't think anybody knows wha

  • in my country. despite that, i wont buy sc2 if its missing lan play. i see that many of our community members will do the same too. whichever executive moron came up with that no lan idea, can shove the cds up his ass now.

  • This is exactly why everyone should play Starcraft: Brood War, you may argue that the UI and graphics are shit but hey, the same could be said about chess or go, I mean, having to actually move the peices with your hand? Worst UI design ever, yet people still play these games. Plus, Starcraft has a lot of gameplay and metagame, taking a long time to master unless you are a genius, making the gameplay never boring as it is a learning experience throughout, even the pro's are constantly learning and changing
  • Send them an email (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ae1294 (1547521) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @09:31AM (#28690039) Journal

    I loved the original starcraft game but didn't really like playing online because of the cheating and honestly it's more fun to play in a room full of people you know. I also don't support this designed obsolescence crap. I can still load up starcraft and play it with my friends and will still be able to in 10 years regardless of what happens to blizzard.

    I just sent off an email to blizzard telling them I'm not buying their new version and I suggest you do the same. It only takes a minute and if everyone started doing something other than sitting on their asses things might change.

    http://us.blizzard.com/support/webform.xml?locale=en_US [blizzard.com]

    I see no way to email EA without having an account. Maybe someone else can find a method.

    • by ae1294 (1547521)

      I got an automatic reply. Here is more information -

      Live Billing & Account Services REPS,
       
      1-800-592-5499 USA
      1-800-041-378 Australia (Missing digit? WTF)
      1-800-2549-9273 Singapore
      001-888-578-7628 Mexico
      0800-333-0778 Argentina
      1230-020-5554 Chile
      1-949-955-0283 Other

  • I think tossing out LAN sucks for the same reason I don't like paying for xbox live or the fact I was annoyed at half life 2 and steam verification.

    But look at the reality. Firstly, there will be a battle.net emulator in some capacity that you will be able to download on your network and play. No question. With a game this popular, someone will make it. Problem solved.

    Second, as has been mentioned before, sc2 is peer to peer. Though, I am not 100% certain this is going to work behind a nat. I'm not 100% cer

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      It should work just fine on "Full Cone" NAT. I have no idea what proportion of consumer routers work this way, but it uses less memory and effort, so probably most! With any sort of NAT, PC1 (192.168.0.100) connects to blizzards server from port 1234 or what-have-you. Your NAT router says "Sure, why not" and forwards that as coming from your.ip:1234. Now PC2 (192.168.0.100) does the same, but the router says "That's in use, you can be port 4321!" and forwards it as you.ip:4321. Blizzard responds to you
  • Earlier this year, I dragged out some old RA and RA2 discs, and put together some low end win98 machines to run them on with my son. They do not have, and WILL NOT EVER have, any connection to the Internet. RA(/2) are getting a bit boring, and I was thinking of finding something newer. Obviously C&C 4 will not be appearing on the list of potential 'something newer', as I *refuse* to connect any wintendo machine to the Internet. I've got a perfectly good set of Ethernet cables connecting the machines, th

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by socrplayr813 (1372733)

      Obviously C&C 4 will not be appearing on the list of potential 'something newer', as I *refuse* to connect any wintendo machine to the Internet.

      Refusing to connect a computer to the internet purely because it runs Windows is silly. That might be somewhat valid for Win98, but certainly not XP+. Of course, if you were the type to listen to logic and learn things other than your own opinion, you probably wouldn't call them 'Wintendo machines'

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