This means, from day one at least, StarCraft II gamers will be locked into playing against gamers from their geographic region. US gamers will play north American opponents, Europeans against Europeans, and Asians against Asians.
We have also had it confirmed that, in the eyes of the almighty Blizzard, Australia is an honorary Asian country, which means gamers Down Under (and New Zealand) will be thrown into the fray alongside gamers based in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand (notably, no Korea in that list). These battles will be waged on servers based in Southeast Asia, designed to offer regional gamers high-quality gameplay and the best connectivity experience thanks to the improved latency of having a server nearby.
This is interesting news, as it squashes the idea that the lack of cross-server play has been caused due to linking battle.net accounts with World of Warcraft characters, who are destined to play on certain servers based on location. For that game, European gamers are all lumped together, well away from their US or Asian counterparts, who are also separated. But Australians buck the trend by playing on special North American servers, physically located far away from the players' geographic location. If this StarCraft II decision was based on prior battle.net / WoW choices, surely the Australians (and New Zealanders) would be playing alongside Americans...
While many gamers aren't quite buying the 'latency' argument, Blizzard have already explained they'll be keeping an eye on game performance, so it's possible this decision may be reversed. For now however, if you'd been planning a bit of intercontintental rivalry against your favourite overseas opponent, looks like it might be a bit tricky to coordinate.
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Jimmy the Geek