Whats LAN play you ask? Pfffff, damn console gamers. You dont remember what it was like in 1995 to spend 3 hours installing and updating MechWarrior 2, only to have it crash every 5 minutes, and then, when it finally ran for 25 minutes in a row, it felt like it was all worth it. You dont remember having to play Everquest over a 28K modem and then dying on the transport ship and having your corpse fall to the bottom of the sea where only god like characters could retrieve it. You dont remember Voodoo graphics cards, CPUs that were measured in megahertz, or 15" CRT monitors - so you sure as hell dont remember LAN gaming. And thats why Blizzard isnt including it, because as far as they are concerned, LAN gaming is dead.
Actually, there is more to it than that. LAN gaming isnt dead, its just reserved for ubergeeks and professional gamers these days. With the advent of highspeed internet, most people dont need to goto a LAN party to play an lag-free multiplayer game like Warcraft 3 or Diablo 2. But the fact is, for people living "off the grid" or who dont have access to a high speed connection, LAN gaming is still the only way to really enjoy a game with friends. The world could end in nuclear holocaust, as long as you have a car battery, an AC/DC converter, two computers and a single copy of the original Starcraft, you can enjoy a LAN battle with your Vault-Tec buddy while you wait for the radiation to die down.
Not Starcraft 2. To play this game against another human being, you must be connected to the internet. Why would they do this? There is really, truly, sadly only one possible explanation: fear of piracy. By forcing you to log into Blizzard's Battlenet, they can verify that your copy of the game is legitimate before allowing you to play. Contrast this with the original Starcraft, where Blizzard allowed you to install up to 8 "spawn" copies of the game which could all be played on a single LAN. So you could have 8 buddies over with 8 computers and only need one copy of Starcraft.
Guess what that kind of freedom did for Starcraft's popularity? Now guess what a single install only, mandatory online activation, mandatory internet only play model is going to do for the popularity of Starcraft II? Ive said it before recently and I will say it again now: the Golden Age of videogames is coming to a close. I will elaborate more on that sentiment in a future post. For now, Im going to spend a moment of silence in the memory of LAN gaming in all its greatness.