Two months after the release of the most anticipated real-time strategy game to date, national broadband provider iiNet has amended its network routing path to make the experience of playing StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty better for Australians connecting to regional Battle.net servers in South-East Asia.
“We’ve made a slight change to the routing path used for the Battle.net servers — please note the change will only be noticeable by iiNet customers on the East coast for now,” said iiNet representative, Adrian Arumugam, in a post on broadband forum Whirlpool last week.
“Hopefully this assists in isolating the latency issue that all our subscriber base are experiencing at night. Eastern states customers, please continue to post in this thread as the Operations Centre will be keeping a close eye on it for updates,” he said.
iiNet’s changes come after a number of the ISP’s customers — who play Starcraft II — ditched the company in favour of rivals who offer better ping times to the South East Asian servers in Singapore.
“Because SC2 is a very demanding game in both response time and tactics, the latency that I was getting to both the closed beta servers and SEA/US server post release was extremely frustrating,” said Daniel ‘Unstable’ Siddel, who is a local Starcraft II player and prominent match commentator.
“While it may not seem much to be getting [latency of] anywhere between 200-500ms, once you reach a certain level of competitiveness in StarCraft II it becomes paramount that you have perfect control of the game — even 300ms can decide the result of a win or loss in the game,” said Siddel.
Siddel was with iiNet during the lengthy StarCraft II beta, but — although he loved iiNet’s customer service and stability — ditched the ISP around the 10th August. He cited speed and latency as the two main issues he switched. “Upload speed for the quality of my casting stream, and latency for the level of StarCraft II that I play at,” he said.
However, iiNet’s new approach may win some customers back.
“The new system that iiNet is releasing is an amazing service that enables Australian StarCraft II players to be on par with the rest of the world competitively,” he said “It is a better, more reliable way of connecting to the other servers without the complications of a proxy but having the same result. It is a definite positive to being with them.”
Australian gamers were sorely disappointed and felt unloved when it was learnt that they would not be getting dedicated Australian servers for the RTS but rather to servers in South East Asia which had the potential to affect game performance.
A number of local gamers criticised a decision at the time by StarCraft publisher Blizzard to lock them to the “local” South East Asian servers — which limited gamer’s choice to play against US or European rivals.
A week before the midnight Monday 26 July launch of Starcraft II Blizzard decided to unlock the US servers to Australians 60 days after the game had launched – which came into effect on Wednesday. Blizzard had notified gamers that while they could play on the US servers, it was still recommended to play on the “local” servers for “lower latency and more action during peak hours”.
Latency has been an ongoing issue with multiplayer Blizzard games over the years.
Three years ago, for example, Internode trialled a free traffic optimisation service — prioritised tunneling to US World of Warcraft servers — for its customers to get around network hassles with the game.
Image credit: Screenshot of StarCraft II