Video game manufacturer Blizzard Entertainment is facing a wave of dissent from Australian gamers furious about the company's decision to lock Australians into only being able to play multiplayer games of its upcoming StarCraft II title against players in Southeast Asia -- not in America or Europe.
The objections relate to the fact that many Australians wish to play the game against friends in the US or Europe -- and also what many see as the problem of bad internet response speeds (ping time) to Southeast Asia compared with good connectivity to the US.
"Thats so gross, I hope they don't lock Aussies to Asia. We ping sooooo baaaaadddd to those places, what a joke," wrote one gamer on an extensive thread on Blizzard's forums devoted to the issue.
"This is purely from a technical standpoint. Australian internet is crap. We are a big fat island isolated from much of the world and much of the international internet usage goes through the US because our telecommunication cables to other countries either doesn't exist or is garbage," wrote another, pointing out much of Australia's international internet traffic was routed through the US in any case.
"Please save the Australian SC2 players, we wish our internet was good enough to maintain a decent connection to South East Asia, but the truth is our internet is terrible. Let us play on the US servers, because all our traffic to Asia seems to be bouncing off there anyway."
Contacted for comment, an Australian Blizzard spokesperson re-issued a statement the company published in late April:
"Blizzard Entertainment also announced today that both the standard edition and Collector's Edition of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will give players from Australia and New Zealand access to play on servers based in Southeast Asia, alongside gamers from Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand," the company stated. "This local datacentre will offer players in the region improved latency for a high-quality gameplay and connectivity experience."
The above statement means that for Australian and New Zealand players StarCraft II will be region locked to Southeast Asia servers and will have the inability to play with other countries like the USA.
Australia has zero Blizzard servers -- although the company has been in past discussions with ISP company Internode about the possibility of bringing World of Warcraft servers down under.
It seems that Blizzard is attempting to address the issue of bad ping times to the Southeast Asian servers. Last week the StarCraft Community Team on the BattleNet forums invited forum members to provide it with evidence of bad ping times.
"To help people trace to the correct location of the new Southeast Asia servers we have an IP and instructions that can be used to test your latency," the team wrote on Blizzard's forums. "We're hoping we can then use that to gauge the connection speeds more appropriately. Please be aware that there will be timeouts for the last few hops, and that's normal. At that point you've already hit our datacenter, but the server information will stop being returned after a certain point for security reasons."
Forum member Maged responded to the post with "Neat idea! If those guys could post a comparison to the US IP address too, that'd be great!".
Last Thursday the Community team followed up with:
"We appreciate everyone taking the time to provide us with their current network paths. Many of the results are showing good pathways and nice pings, as expected. But we're actively working with regional ISPs to address connections that are not currently optimized. We need to have as much data as possible, so if you live in Oceania and haven't already, please perform a traceroute and post your results."
Blizzard was again contacted to confirm which ISPs specifically they were working with however the company did not respond at the time of writing this article.
The StarCraft community were still resounding their doubts and citing further issues that would arise from Australia being forced to use the Southeast Asia servers, such as English barriers, when the Community Team issued a new statement online last week.
"In regards to some concerns over language barriers: the only version of the game being sold in Southeast Asia is the English version, and the majority of people are either fluent in English or are likely to speak English as a commonality," the company said.
"But, as we stated regarding cross region support, it’s something we’re working to implement after the launch of the game and it will allow you to connect to other regions should you choose to do so; as I mentioned, we’ve taken steps and are continuing to work with local ISPs on ensuring Oceanic players have as fast as reliable a connection to our Southeast Asia datacentre as possible."