Garena says goodbye to virtual LAN feature for several countries
Through a very surprising and unannounced move, the virtual LAN feature of the Garena+ Client has been blocked for the users of certain countries. These players will not be able to use Garena+ for games such as Warcraft III, Call of Duty or Left4Dead.
Back in 2008/2009, Garena was one of the main platforms for several multiplayer games and their associated eSports. The reason was Garena's virtual LAN feature, which allowed players inside the game 'rooms' to view and join the lobbies created by the room members, just as if they were connected locally. The fast and simple process was very appealing to gamers back then, especially at a time when actual matchmaking was almost non-existent for multiplayer games. However, as of May 2014, it seems that the virtual LAN feature has been removed from the Garena Plus client for several countries, showing the door to the respective communities that preferred Garena instead of official servers or other similar platforms.
One of Garena's most played games was Warcraft III, mainly due to DotA1. For a large period Garena was the most used DotA platform along with Battle.net, and it played a significant role in developing the DotA competitive scene. This was accomplished by broadcasting games through GarenaTV, or interviewing and presenting professional players in the forums. The rise of other platforms such as Dotalicious, Ranked Gaming Client (RGC) or ICCup, combined with the release of DotA2, drew people away from Garena. The rooms devoted to DotA started going empty, but many players still trusted Garena (now Garena Plus) for their daily dose of DotA.
No official announcement has been made for the reasons behind the selective removal of the virtual LAN feature. There are claims that vLAN was only blocked in countries with a small population of Garena users, but more and more countries are expected to lose the 'LAN Games' button through upcoming client updates. The official Garena forum has been down for several days now, so people can only wonder what lead to this massive change by the Garena organization. It should be reminded that games such as League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth and Path of the Exile are still supported by the company, with thousands of players using the client every day.