"LAN" -> Local Area Network. If two computers can ping each other, they can play. No authentication. That is a LAN game, not something that is phoning home. The system you are describing is no different than a bunch of people playing in the security of their own house and connecting to eachother in an Internet server.
I understand that some systems take advantage of this (Hamachi/Gameranger) but if you aren't bothered by the 99.9% of players who are pirating the game to play single-player, I don't understand why you'd be bothered by the .1% of players who pirated to play with their friends.
:shrug: all I know is that if I can't LAN it locally with friends (using one license) I won't be able to convince my friends to buy it. That's all it is.
It's my computers (not theirs) that I'm installing it on and they are only using it temporarily. I promised them LAN (because I do OFTEN throw LAN parties. My current house has six computers, 3 which are 2 years or less all connected to one router), and this is typically what happens:
1- I throw a LAN party for a new game, they play it
2- They either like it or they hate it. If they hate it, we never play again and I play it myself, or online
3- If they like it, then they'll buy it, and play it at their house so they can be good at it
If I can't do step one (DoW II, Supreme Commander II) then I can't go to step 3 without making them watch me play it and convincing them I like it (or letting them play single-player on my computer as I watch them...).
Ultimately, catering to a 2:1 or 3:1 is a positive revenue generator because of people like me (not 15:1 and you can always say in the EULA that you have to won the computers that it is installed with, really, the EULA just has to be "tweaked" to remove the restriction of operating the game on multiple computers as once, then bam, you have a legal 2:1).
The problem I have is that you claim to support LAN games (that is, no phoning home) where in reality, you don't, and are hiding it behind the excuse that it allows quick balancing of XML without having to release new builds.
If you said you didn't have LAN functionality, and that is how multi-player worked, I wouldn't have this problem. A LOT of games have removed LAN functionalities and I would sigh and move on, and accept that my friends won't buy this game. I'm upset that I was made a liar. Because I made a promise based on expectations (that this game was LANable) and now I either need to pirate it or hack it to get it to work in a LAN, or disappoint my friends.
I think that Stardock is a good company, and you do a lot of things right and I hope that Elemental is a critical success. But that doesn't mean that I like it when you claim LAN support when you really don't ._.
Of course, all of this will be moot once the custom servers get released.