Blizzard blames piracy for lack of StarCraft 2 LAN support

By Justin Mann on June 30, 2009, 1:28 PM
In a follow-up to yesterday’s announcement that StarCraft II would lack LAN support and the subsequent public outcry, Blizzard has gone on record to explain their controversial move. Unsurprisingly, the company’s decision was rooted in piracy, coming as an attempt to curb illegal downloads after the game is released. Bob Colayco of Blizzard told Joystiq that this “safeguard” against piracy wasn't an easy decision for them, indicating they knew many players would be unhappy with it.

Blaming piracy for stripping features is one way to explain their actions. Such tactics are becoming increasingly common, with more games requiring online verification to make full use of content. So why not do the same with StarCraft II, requiring some sort of online activation before LAN play becomes possible? Compare Steam and the EA Downloader, both of which even require occasional re-authentication of single player games to keep them functioning. What prevents Blizzard from incorporating measures such as this?




User Comments: 70

Got something to say? Post a comment
yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Right. This will definately stop illegal downloads of Starcraft 2. If anything their decison to have 3 different released copies, 1 for each race in single player will increase the downloads. And once someone works out how to crack a version to run over Lan, even more downloads.

Futile imo.

Guest said:

I think you rather missed the point, when asking about why not STEAM or something similar... The LAN party fans are upset because they don't want to (or in many cases can't) connect through the internet for the party. So seriously, what good would an online authentication system do in a LAN party situation? If you already have the internet access, you don't necessarily NEED the LAN support. By definition, the 2 formats are basically mutually exclusive in this situation.

I can see why Blizzard went the way they went, because I've seen a few LAN parties myself where lots of "mysterious unlabeled CD" copies were passed around so everyone could play. If you force the connection to be through the internet, I'm guessing through an authentication check of some sort, at least you are making the piracy to play by LAN harder. After all, a cracked version that had LAN support could be played anytime anywhere. I can foresee official LAN support coming sometime after the initial launch, probably as a patch, once the initial sales rush has died down, and piracy is not as big an issue to Blizzard. It's that first huge rush that publishers worry about piracy affecting the most anyhow... After that period, they tend to do things like loosen up (or remove) DRM, etc.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

I'm going to quote myself on this thread to support this amazingly intelligent unnamed guest.

I think LAN makes sense, I can say i've seen MANY MANY "illegal" LAN parties from only a single copy of starcraft, and of course, there are the many illegal versions of starcraft which only support LAN, along with bnet emulators. I'm sure blizzard will provide better bnet support and include latency options, or at least expect MasterOfChaos and his friends to port chaos loader into sc2, so bnet should be just the same as LAN. If you're in the minuscule group of people who would buy valid copies and have LAN but no internet, i'm very sorry, you will suffer under anti-piracy.

oh my effin jeebus..........no console?????????????? Why no effin console release??!?!! Halo Wars was a perfect example on how good RTS is for console! Why not this game?!

Just like starcraft64, at least I know how greatly successful and amazingly easy to play that was I think blizzard wants starcraft2 to stay a highly competitive game, which means consoles are simple to play it on XD.

Please, everybody must realize LAN IS THE SAME THING AS MULTIPLAYER, instead of clicking on LAN and setting up a game and yelling at people next to you to join (screen cheat ftw?), you will have to click on a different icon saying BNET and set up a PASSWORDED game, then yell at everyone next to you to join. BNet is complicated, yes?

I'm probably also going to quote the unnamed guest on a future post.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

(shrugs) Time and time again the issue of piracy has come up as a reason why PC gaming companies are changing the way they do business and/or develop their products.

I'm just hoping that one day these simpletons who feel the need to steal will realize the insanely negative impact they're having.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Thought we already knew they did this for piracy from there pov...anyway still a bad move and Blizzards way of DRMing SC2. While I'm sure small part of the decision for this was to prevent piracy, the guys at Blizzard are not stupid and know its a cat & mouse game where in the long run they are on the losing end no matter how you look at it. It seems they want to have more control with bnet. I still think this is one big bone headed move from Blizzard alienating many loyal SC fans who might not have access to bnet for various reasons. Man even to think all the small competitive SC LAN's too =/.

If anything at all this might drive more to piracy especially if some 3rd party LAN app or localized bnet is created. Just baffled by this decision...=?

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm just hoping that one day these simpletons who feel the need to steal will realize the insanely negative impact they're having.

It's called using piracy as an excuse to achieve ulterior motives. While I have no doubt they hope this will help, I cannot believe its the only reason. Same shenanigans politicians and others use when attempting to censor the net using child porn as the "sole" reason. Which utterly sickens me.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

I think their just too lazy, there isn't much of a point, and despite the small amount of extra work, they are already very late in getting this game out.

Justin Justin said:

(shrugs) Time and time again the issue of piracy has come up as a reason why PC gaming companies are changing the way they do business and/or develop their products.

I'm just hoping that one day these simpletons who feel the need to steal will realize the insanely negative impact they're having.

I don't agree at all that piracy is the actual problem here. I believe that's only being used as a scapegoat for another agenda. They need a valid excuse to justify stripping out a rather enjoyed feature of their games, and piracy is the catch-all blame phrase. They use pirates as a scapegoat because they know it is difficult to argue against.

I don't condone piracy. It is theft, and it is you telling the developers and publishers behind a game that you don't feel their product is worth paying for. That said, changes to a game shouldn't be made from a "ruins it for the rest of us" standpoint.

I believe that platforms like STEAM are a step in the right direction, even though I am opposed in virtually every way to DRM. As to the unnamed guest who claimed that my suggestion was foolish, I would remind him to look at the numerous single player Steam games available. They require authentication once, or for newer titles, every "once in a while" - not every time you play them. It would be acceptable, in my eyes, for Blizzard to require a game be authenticated however many times per month in order to sustain LAN play.

However, Blizzard blaming piracy on a design change is just wrong. Thieves will steal games regardless of the changes made to them. Third-party cracks and pirated copies will still surface for StarCraft II. There is nothing Blizzard can do to stop that - they know that as well. Removing LAN play as an option, in my opinion, has nothing to do with piracy.

So why remove it at all? I believe there's another reason. I can't tell you why, because I'm not on the inside, but I'd assume it has something to do with marketing. Statistics gathering. Profile generation. That's just my guess; Blizzard doesn't want people playing it on a LAN because they want to gather as much data about people playing the game as possible.

Paranoid? No, I'm not saying that data gathering is a bad thing. I'm just saying that logically it makes more sense than blaming it on piracy. If that's the case, though, I'd want them to be honest about it.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

However, Blizzard blaming piracy on a design change is just wrong. Thieves will steal games regardless of the changes made to them. Third-party cracks and pirated copies will still surface for StarCraft II. There is nothing Blizzard can do to stop that - they know that as well. Removing LAN play as an option, in my opinion, has nothing to do with piracy.

I think it prevents simply copying the starcraft folder in program files, that works just fine for LAN play, but you can only have one on bnet at a time. You can even share the program files folder and run it on multiple computers off a single legit copy and play on LAN. Simple and easy way to illegally play at a LAN party. There are also the mini versions of starcraft where it is cramped into a tiny file size, so single player doesn't fit, but LAN games are their primary objective.

fimbles fimbles said:

I think they removed the lan option because there are lots of programs out there that will emulate a lan connection across the internet. Free online multiplayer for people who download the game, as these "private" servers dont ask for prod keys and such.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I think hellokitty and fimbles pretty well explained the piracy aspect of your doubt, Justin. It's no secret that all you need is one client to have the game run in a LAN setting and the rest can piggyback. That's piracy, no two ways about it.

And given that there is no other argument available as to why they wouldn't provide LAN capabilities is enough for me to take Blizzard at their word.

I'm sure we'll hear more about this complete with specific explanation from Blizzard as the release date gets closer.

purity999 said:

I look at it like this, I'm in the military, and if I ever go back to Iraq or Afghanistan, we don't have internet access. The only way for us to play is over a LAN. We mostly played CoD4, but there were times when we ever fired up the original SC. Lack of LAN support for SC2 is seriously wrong.

Justin Justin said:

TomSEA said:

I think hellokitty and fimbles pretty well explained the piracy aspect of your doubt, Justin. It's no secret that all you need is one client to have the game run in a LAN setting and the rest can piggyback. That's piracy, no two ways about it.

Who's arguing that isn't piracy?

And given that there is no other argument available as to why they wouldn't provide LAN capabilities is enough for me to take Blizzard at their word.

I just gave you an alternative argument that to me seems very plausible.

I'm sure we'll hear more about this complete with specific explanation from Blizzard as the release date gets closer.

If there are any ulterior motives, I doubt anyone would ever speak publically about them.

I stand by my assertion that Blizzard's motivation is for data gathering, and has little to do with piracy.

Guest said:

What I find ironic is that, at least from my experience, the people who went on to work in the computer field were the biggest pirates in high school. Yeah, the CFOs and marketing people at these companies may not have been pirates, but I'd be willing to bet that most of the people on the technical side of things at least dabbled in "sharing" in their youth.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

What I find ironic is that, at least from my experience, the people who went on to work in the computer field were the biggest pirates in high school. Yeah, the CFOs and marketing people at these companies may not have been pirates, but I'd be willing to bet that most of the people on the technical side of things at least dabbled in "sharing" in their youth.

Pirates, hackers, and illegal stuff is how you really learn .

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Pirating has been occurring since the first software was written on a computer. Back in my C64 days over 3/4 of the games and programs I had were copied. Piracy is always going to exist I just hate the fact it is being used as an excuse by developers. Why could they not make the host computer on a LAN authenticate each copy of the game? Yes I know it can be cheated but if they are going to cheat it, they're not going to buy the game anyways. They should just come out and admit that they're money grubbing anal retentive nazi's and they're going to do what they want because they're rich as **** and don't care.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

Blizzard, if piracy is the issue, then require battle.net account & product key verification online first before LAN game play.

This isn't because of piracy.. This is just an excuse not to spend extra time developing a LAN game play system.

Guest said:

Starcraft 1 is said to have 10 Million copies sold since release. Considering that game alone has some of the weakest copy protection (CD Key only, WHICH WORKS compared to other DRM methods) I don''t see how they are concluding that sales have suffered due to Piracy. Their games have sold plenty since then such as the Warcraft 3 series too.

Blizzard is just pulling bullshit out of their asses. Doesn't surprise me, they're pretty aggressive ;D

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Don't pirated versions get around stuff like online activation for LAN play already?

They are just challenging the pirates to create a slightly better crack. Sounds like they are penalysing the people who pay... again.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

The only way I can see them stopping piracy in this case is if the entire server code is never released to clients and battlenet is the only server that can host games.

Guest said:

What I wouldn't like to think would be that blizzard would make me buy a battlenet account and pay it monthly to play a multiplayer game that I already bought. Following the WOW business scheme so I pay the game many times over.

shossofe shossofe said:

huh, so my guess was correct. It is because of piracy. Of course, this wouldn't prevent people from pirating the game. But I think that Blizzard's main goal is to just not allow pirates to play online. Of course, this gives me some ideas. If we are allowed to host a server on Battle.net and let people on your freinds list join or something, then that can be considered LAN to me. But still, it's hard to do that with 4 other people using your internet connection. This may prevent pirates from playing online, but what the hell are these stupid companies thinking. How is this gonna stop someone from downloading the game and playing single player?

Guest said:

easy way to reduce piracy.....reduce the F&*#NG price. really how much is a movie on dvd, how much is an album on cd, they also put a lot of work and resources into their productions. I know my game collection would be 10 times bigger if they were cheaper, when it costs 80-100AU$ it's way too much for buggy, unoriginal titles. $50 would be a reasonable start.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Very nicely put Justin, Blizzard wants more control imo. I don't blame them, but I personally thought they were better then this - maybe its not even there decision but someone from higher up...nevertheless HK and Tom I've been reading your opinions and I respectfully disagree and also think they are a bit naive. There have been plenty of different ideas and routes Blizzard could go to help prevent piracy which are not overly bearing on certain customers and as far as I know they haven't discussed or given reasons to why they think THIS is the only way.

Guest said:

Imo Blizzard is making a huge mistake lettings this happen.Lan support is a joke you can play lan via VPN like Garena or Hamachi even without owning a legal copy.Most people with games like these that they need to be online to stay alive(warcraft 3 with dota is best example),see its single player pirated,then they buy the so i can play battlenet.It just makes the legal buyers' life tougher without true and solid reason.

Guest said:

Fighting piracy by removing features from your game is the most depressing thing I've ever heard.

complexxL9 complexxL9 said:

Rick said:

Blizzard, if piracy is the issue, then require battle.net account & product key verification online first before LAN game play.

This isn't because of piracy.. This is just an excuse not to spend extra time developing a LAN game play system.

this method would be easily cracked, as in all ea games like RA3.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Piracy is the cause of male pattern baldness.

Piracy is the cause of erectile dysfunction

Piracy is the cause of lung cancer

Piracy is the cause of the middle eastern crisis

Piracy is the cause of Michael Jackson's death

Piracy is the cause of Sudden Infant Death

Piracy is the cause of Amelia Eirheart's disappearance

Piracy is the cause of the Bermuda Triangle

I've have never seen actual facts and real numbers from any software company proving their claims. So I guess I can make Sh*t up too. Blizzard's word is as good as mine.

complexxL9 complexxL9 said:

Imo this is very intelligent move by blizzard. How do you make people buy the game? by adding a value to it which isn't available on the pirated copy. This is just what they are doing, we all know that the most fun part of these game is multiplayer and the fact that you are less likely to get tired of multiplayer action then singleplayer makes this feature worth your money.

There is really small percentage of people (not counting the pirates) who actually loose something when there is no Lan. For most of gamers B.net is enough and might I say a lot better way of playing multiplayer?

Guest said:

Who cares. SC is a rip off of Warhammer 40k....

Guest said:

first of all, piracy is not a theft.

when you steal - you take one object from someone and then you possess it.

piracy is when you double the object and take only a copy of it. the original owner still retains a copy.

when I buy an apple I can do anything with it (sell it, borrow it, eat it myself), when I buy a game, Im forbidden to do most of these things (why not just state that you ar not buying it but renting and lower the rent price?)

there are no scientific studies proving that people are less willing to pay for a good game if they can get it for free but with limitations (with pirated sc1 you could not play over battlenet, only on lan).

another thing - fighting the masses (piracy) is futile. someone will leak battlenet software and will tweak it for using at lan parties.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

Eureka! I think I have it.

It's not piracy that's a concern... Blizzard is hoping to generate revenue on Battle.net through advertising by forcing you to use it, meaning more people will see the ads they show.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

It's not piracy that's a concern... Blizzard is hoping to generate revenue on Battle.net through advertising by forcing you to use it, meaning more people will see the ads they show.

O.O brilliant. I've seen a 4870x2 ad on bnet, you need one to run starcraft at maximum settings with AA on 64 MSAA.

Guest said:

Hamachi. /thread

Guest said:

This is lame -- Like that will "stop piracy" give me a break. Blizzard should be smarter than that. Also its not like Blizzard should be hurting because of piracy in SC1 they still made a #*($load of money and its sales numbers are through the roof. Now I dont get to have ultra low latency LAN games with friends but instead I need to make sure that everybody gets online which isnt always possible. Really irritating and uneccessary! This is really the 1st time blizzard has done something like this and I wonder if it is because of activision...

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Guest said:

Hamachi. /thread

Did you not read the article? There is no LAN mode.

tengeta tengeta said:

Sounds good Blizzard, I guess I'll blame piracy for my lack of NOT BUYING YOUR GAME.

shossofe shossofe said:

Guest said:

easy way to reduce piracy.....reduce the F&*#NG price. really how much is a movie on dvd, how much is an album on cd, they also put a lot of work and resources into their productions. I know my game collection would be 10 times bigger if they were cheaper, when it costs 80-100AU$ it's way too much for buggy, unoriginal titles. $50 would be a reasonable start.

wtf? Name 5 PC games out there that is 80-100AU$.

Guest said:

Hmm.. well.. guess i'll download to play single-player. If i like it i'll bay to play online. But seriously, only ****** try to play online with a cracked copy or an illegal version. Removing LAN play doesn't stop and will not reduce piracy. It just pisses everyone off.. Infact, didn't EA try this with Spore and it turned out to be one of the biggest illegally downloaded games so far?

Blizzard, please. Grow up and accept that your net code sucks too much for LAN and you can't blame the lag.

Yours Sincerely,

Phil "Hacess" Damages

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

this method would be easily cracked, as in all ea games like RA3.

I'm aware, but that's really subject to the method they implement. But yes, nothing is a sure thing.

The angle I was approaching there was Battle.net itself can be circumvented, but authenticating with Battle.net could be *as* safe. If Blizzard is satisfied with playing on Battle.net as their anti-piracy solution, then Battle.net authentication for LAN play can be every bit as good... as ungood as that may be. :-)

And of course, Battle.net itself has been circumvented with private servers... Heck, even WoW has unofficial, private servers. There's probably not much that is going to stop that for as long as they retain compatibility with the Battle.net service.

redwallo1 redwallo1 said:

Blizzard is a good company and will gain my loyalty and purchases as long as they are reasonable.....

but if blizzard moves to something equivalent to steam or EA downloader and requires online activation then they lose my respect from my previous statement...

Guest said:

This is (yet another) a really poor decision on Blizzard's part. Stick it to the honest paying customers because of a few bad apples. OK, more than a few.

I greatly enjoyed playing SC over LAN with my friends, all of whom owned the game, including BW. I greatly disliked playing on battlenet.

Because of this, and Blizzard's obvious milking the license by making the 3 races separate purchases, I guess I will have to pass. You lose, Blizzard.

Guest said:

The problem is that you have to settle with the internet rather than LAN!!!

Im from Asia and I have a family of 6 - 5 of us play warcraft 2 (DOTA Maps) and we all LOVE Lan play. We have a shared internet connection of 1.5mbps (but really its like 500kbps). Thats really what our budget can afford (we are not going to upgrade for a simple game)!!!

So that is 5 users - using whats left of our connection - all at the same time!!!! Imagine the crazy lag going on!!! what about days without connection (storms)?? What now??

---><------>

You know what, chances are, we'll be seeing bootleg versions of the game with LAN support.

Guest said:

I wrote an email to sales and advertise @ blizzard.com, I got a response back from an actual person stating that they will forward my email to some one above. I don't know if they wil or will not , but at least some one read my email. Here's a link to the thread on our page along with the email that I've sent:

http://www.lanpartygods.com/portal/viewtopic.php?t=1778&
tart=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=

I'd suggest anyone that cares to also send out an email and try to be heard.

Guest said:

Piracy is a scapegoat, and this is the first move before they start charging to play the game online. Mark my words.

The best article on piracy you will ever read:

http://insomnia.ac/commentary/pc_game_piracy/

"The whole piracy thing seems like just one more thing for developers to complain about. And they love to ***** and whine, don't they? Game's late? Not their fault. Game's buggy? Not their fault. It's another mind-numbingly derivative WWII shooter? Not their fault. "Market pressures", don't you know --- if there's anything gamers push for, it's late, unfinished and/or hopelessly derivative games. PIRACY BAD!!!GRRRR! Oh, but copy protection that screws over legitimate customers? Yeah, sorry, take that one up with the publisher, our hands are tied."

...

We're supposed to have sympathy for them too, even though by their own arguments they deserve to die off. Piracy is killing the PC market, but the response to any legitimate complaint is to stop buying PC games if we don't like it. If we act rationally and refuse to throw the baby out with the bathwater and download a game, we're killing them. What would they rather have us do? "Talk with our wallets" and not play the games at all, and certainly don't buy them. Which would also kill the industry, but that's somehow the more moral solution. Either way the industry is basically daring us to kill it.

Most people are talking with their wallets, which is why the market is shrinking. And what message does the industry take from that? That they should do something different? Nope. The message is that they should simply move to consoles due to a shrinking market they surely can't be responsible for. So even when we do follow the "moral" way, nothing ****ing changes. So the decision, from our view, is between "No Games, Dead Industry" and "Pirate Games, Dead Industry".

In other words, if the industry isn't going to get the message no matter what we do and is going to die either way, why should we deny ourselves the few good games that get released? Should I feel sorry for Ken Levine not getting paid for a good game? Nope. The industry doesn't care about screwing us over in the name of unproven piracy damages, so I don't see why we should care if a few decent developers get crushed in the name of taking down an industry that could not possibly care less about doing proper business with us."

Xecutor Xecutor said:

If you consider yourself a truly hardcore SC fan, then you would buy SC2 even if you cannot play online (for now) for at least the campaign and the other playable modes available.

Xecutor Xecutor said:

Guest said:

Who cares. SC is a rip off of Warhammer 40k....

Since you do not care about SC, we do not care about your opinion. Please go play warhammer 40k.

k thx bye.

Guest said:

F*** blizard dumb ****** razor and vitality wil crack the game in the first 24 h from realease and in the next weeek they wil porbably put a lan crack so basicaly blizard only has done to dont make ppl buy it ,if it had lan i would have bouaght it

Corwin613 said:

I've been a blizzard fan for ages and ive bought copies of each of thier games (except Diablo that was given to me)

Honestly this sounds like a money scheme that in reality has nothing to do with piracy this is only an excuse - I doubt they are in trouble financially with WoW having over 11 million players meaning they made over 400 mil on the game sales alone.... rough estimate since the game cost 39.99 here in the US

I kinda wonder if they will end up selling the LAN play add on in an Expansion format or something.....

I do have to say I am looking forward to SC2 since I love RTS games

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

The comment above about spore kind of just took the words out of my mouth, short story, but true.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.