Additional Pile-Ons: StarCraft II Adding Global Play

By Nathan Grayson on November 10th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.

Since the dawn of time, people haven’t been the greatest communicators. Unable to bridge both geographical and interpersonal gaps, we’ve come to despise one another on pretenses that are flimsy at best. But maybe, all this time, we really just needed a universal language – a go-between that made sense of our Picaso collage of quirks and differences. What I’m saying is, maybe we needed non-region-locked StarCraft II servers. And soon – finally, mercifully, gosh, jeez, ugh – we’ll be getting them.

Blizzard outlined the much-requested Global Play option in a recent blog post, noting that it aims to “expand the possibilities for eSports, expose you to maps and games that aren’t yet published everywhere, and make it easy to play with your friends in other parts of the world.” All of those sound like good things, so hooray!

Granted, each region will still have separate profile data, so characters, rankings, progress and things of the like won’t make the blink-of-an-eye StarCraft trek across the planet with you. However, there are also benefits to that separation. For instance, servers might be down for maintenance in one region, but in others, they might be all systems go.

Global Play will unite the world and solve so many problems that we’ll have to invent new problems just to make up for it “in the coming months.” If I had to guess, I’d say it’ll probably come before Heart of the Swarm’s first-half-of-2013 launch, if only because each will doubtless present all sort of kinks to work out, and it’d be a logistical nightmare to send both onto the frontlines at once. Then again, Blizzard works in mysterious (and sometimes utterly mystifying) ways, so I suppose we’ll see.

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37 Comments »

  1. AlKaPwn says:

    Blizzard is truly the master of implementing things ages after they should have been there. “Hey everyone, blizzard just now started using fire, and wheels!”

  2. mrmalodor says:

    Wait, I thought you could already play globally? How retarded that they would even have to add it to a competitive multiplayer game years after release. Wow.

    • ChaosSmurf says:

      The iccup (custom Brood War ladder) servers gave a pretty good ping to literally everyone in the world, and saw very heavy use up until about 2010. I can only speculate, but I would assume the data going back and forth in an SC2 match is far more than Brood War, so pings may be more of an issue.

      Bleh, this was meant to be in reply to jplayer01 talking about cross-region pings.

      • jplayer01 says:

        Sorry about that, I had replied to the wrong post. :P That’s interesting. I haven’t played on iccup in ages, so I can’t remember much about it. However, I doubt that the amount of bandwidth used has changed significantly from SCBW to SC2. The nature of the game hasn’t actually changed at all. You still have the same amount of units and the same basic design.

        • ChaosSmurf says:

          While I agree, I’m making an assumption that the basic advances in computer power between 1998 and now will have increased the amount of data. However, it’s entirely possible that I’m either talking out of my ass (indeed, the lack of an increase in size of replay files would imply as much) or the also natural increases in connectivity speeds globally will counteract any increase.

          This reply button does not like me.

          • Nimic says:

            Replay files are nothing but a set of “directions”. So it makes perfect sense that they would be roughly the same size as BW replays, which I assume worked similarly. That doesn’t really say anything about the rest of the game, though.

  3. pupsikaso says:

    I remember in SC1 you could connect to whatever “gateway”(region) of b.net you wanted. That was almost 14 years ago. Why was it so hard to do it for SC2?

    Although, I also remember that trying to play not on your local region was almost impossible due to latency and connection issues.

    • jplayer01 says:

      I played just fine on US servers from Europe, as did others. I didn’t have a 50ms ping, but it was enough just to have fun. I wouldn’t say it was impossible … it was a compromise, like so many other things in this world, but at least it was MY choice to make. I could play with US friends without buying a new CD key (seriously, Blizzard?). I don’t understand Blizzard’s absolutely arbitrary restrictions on everything.

      • orcane says:

        But Blizzard stopped that silly “choice” thing ages ago. It’s for your own good! (Blizzard and internet oceans suck)

    • Pray For Death says:

      Because Battle.net 2.0

  4. kikito says:

    The internet has no oceans.

  5. x1501 says:

    Next thing you know, they’ll be adding LAN support by 2020. Right in time for the Protoss expansion.

    • ChaosSmurf says:

      Fun fact: On one of DJWheat’s (professional e-sports person) shows (I believe an episode of Inside the Game) he said that Blizzard have stated there is a truck with a LAN server in it they’re willing to rent out to tournaments if the tournaments are willing to pay for security to guard it.

    • Oasx says:

      I think they have admitted than it is because of piracy that we don’t have a LAN option. Considering the drama with Kespa that happened at the start of SC2 i actually think that is a fair concern, they just need a way for major tournaments to get a LAN option, whether that be a special version of the game or a server they can borrow.

      • D3xter says:

        Funny thing is StarCraft II already has LAN although not thanks to Blizzard, it’s called “StarFriend” and was made by some Taiwanese guy: http://www.battle4sc2.com/

      • Milky1985 says:

        Blizzards obsession with stopping piracy is just akin to them chopping off their own leg to stop their foot from hurting. They are sooo obsessed with stopping it that they casue themselves so many problems.

        On the other side of the fence after a net failure during a tournament (something that has happened multiple times during SC2 touraments, causing regames, even as recently as this weekend), riot put together a LAN client for tournies to use, its a bit different becasue they are FTP, but also if that went missing they would lose out on loads of character purchases etc so would still lose out on cash.

        I want someone to call up DJWheat and Blizz on this armed guarded server and actually use it, to see if they really do have it!

    • Squishpoke says:

      I doubt they will have LAN.

      They even disable OFFLINE PLAY if you don’t log in to b-net for 30 days.

      Imagine my rage when I wanted to play offline SC2 during the holiday (with no internet) and Blizzard suddenly decided that I wasn’t allowed to play a game I paid $60 for.

  6. ChaosSmurf says:

    So for those wondering why this wasn’t implemented in the original StarCraft II release, it’s basically because Battle.net is built on top of the original World of WarCraft server structure which, for whatever reason, was never designed to go cross-region (likely due to the various differences in possible payment plans and legalities between Asia, Europe and the United States, along with, I assume, being easier maintenance wise to have various enclosed systems).

    Now that World of WarCraft is running off Battle.net (i.e. bnet has effectively replaced whatever login structure was there before) and with what I can only assume are advancements in server tech since 2006, it will have become possible (and financially plausible) to allow cross-realm play.

    For those naturally wondering “well why the fuck didn’t they either a) use a better system in the first place or b) use their gorillians of dollars to just make it work in 2010″ well, bnet already took a very long time to put together. Hell, look at the shit-tonne of jobs being advertised in the bnet department and how many of them are marked as critical. Some of those have been there for over three years. Based on rumours just before the StarCraft II beta started, bnet had already delayed the near-finished release of SC2 for months, possibly years. Eventually there comes a point where you just want your game to work and be out there, and fix it in the mean time. Add to that Blizzard’s usual glacial pace and the mysterious ways Nathan’s hinted at, and you have this situation.

    • x1501 says:

      “…Battle.net is built on top of the original World of WarCraft server structure which, for whatever reason, was never designed to go cross-region…”

      Doesn’t Battle.net predate World of Warcraft by nearly a decade?

    • jplayer01 says:

      The question is … why? Bnet 1.0 was completely functional. It wasn’t perfect in any way, but it did its job … you could chat with others, you could mess around with trivia bots, you could make clans, the game browser wasn’t a piece of garbage. It allowed you to do all the things you expected, such as connecting with others socially or watching replays together or whatever … where’s the progress? What benefit did this huge effort to build Bnet 2.0 bring? I don’t see any. Instead, I see arbitrary restrictions where there should be none, especially 14 years later.

      • ChaosSmurf says:

        The answer to this is two-fold.

        Firstly (and again, sadly, based on speculation), I personally know nothing about how much data the original battle.net servers and software could process, but is it likely able to handle the amount of shit that 10 million WoW subs, a couple of million D3 players (specifically, ones using the auction house) and a few hundred thousand games of SC2 throws at them? Probably not. Even if the technology to deal with this kind of thing was available when Bnet was first built in 1996 (or even when 1.0 was last used, for The Frozen Throne in 2003), there is no way Blizzard would have predicted this number of users.

        Secondly, the kind of things that company CEOs and shareholders worry about that RPS commentors don’t. Facebook integration. Cross-game integration. Shared brands. DRM (okay, RPS commentors worry about this a lot, but you know what I mean). We don’t care about this stuff, and we often scoff it off as greedy capitalists trying to squeeze us for every buck, but they do. It’s (part of) what makes their games sell more copies.

        Now, is it okay that we got all that shit but didn’t get global play, LAN support, clans, decent chat channels, good game browsers, etc until post-release? It’s not, but you can see how they maybe just wanted to put it out there. Now, two years later, is it okay that we’re still waiting for it? No, not really. Not from a company the size of Blizzard, with the amount of money Blizzard makes. So, I’m not defending them here, just throwing up reasons why these things have happened.

      • D3xter says:

        There’s a rather long, in-depth and good article on that worth reading: http://www.learntocounter.com/the-creation-of-battle-net-2-0-part-one/

        It basically boils down to control, control over customers (no resale, no spawn copies, not the same account for family members etc. anymore), control over E-Sports with leagues, events and TV stations having to pay Blizzard royalties, control over the infrastructure e.g. being able to censor certain content or maps and making sure that whatever gets “uploaded” to their service “belongs” to them and monetization.

  7. Apocalypse says:

    To late. SC2 is a dead horse. A dead horse with a single player campaign that was given away for free. Hope there will be again lots of free guest pass, because I won’t spend over 100£ just that my family can play SC2 2. Stupid of blizzard to restrict their games that much.

  8. Moraven says:

    Diablo 3 launched with this option. Good to come to SC2. It will get heavy use.

  9. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Title pun took me a moment to get, but I enjoyed it immensely.

  10. namad says:

    the main reason global play wasn’t just a way to ruin people’s lives in every game ever is that competitive multiplayer gaming on a global level for action oreinated games…well it’s just not feasible really! for basic reasons of geography..

    what was always unfair tho was making someone buy 2or3 copies of sc2 to play every region! paying once should’ve been enough to setup all 3regions, if they’d done that from the start no one would’ve ever complained or requested the global play!

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  12. DK says:

    Welcome to the 20th Century Blizzard. Maybe you’ll get to this one (hint: It’s not the 20th anymore) in a few decades.

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  14. Kaminnozh says:

    GLOBALFACE

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