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Over 10 million expected to sell this year

The original StarCraft real-time strategy game was released twelve years ago, and went on to revolutionize computer gaming. The use of three distinct races with their own unique units and gaming strategies led to an explosion in LAN gaming, especially in South Korea. Over eleven million copies of the games have been sold, with millions more illegally copied. A dozen novels centered on the game universe have been written, and it is still one of the most popular in the world.

StarCraft is particularly popular in South Korea, where professional players and teams earn sponsorships and prize money through competition in televised tournaments. Over 10% of the country's population of nearly 49 million still actively plays the game.

Blizzard Entertainment hopes to recapture that success with today's launch of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the long anticipated sequel to the original masterpiece. Development on the sequel started in 2003, but had been stalled due to the resources needed for the World of Warcraft MMO. The company eventually decided to split the game up into three parts: Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void.

Wings of Liberty follows protagonist Jim Raynor as he leads an insurgent group against the Terran Dominion following the events of StarCraft and the StarCraft: Brood War expansion pack. The non-linear single-player campaign has the player taking on mercenary jobs for money in order to buy additional units and upgrades. There are key missions that will appear to explore the storyline and keep it linear.

The expansion packs will feature Zerg and Protoss single-player campaigns to complete the storyline, as well as additional unit and multiplayer maps. Full multiplayer gameplay with all three races is available out of the box.

Graphics are of course much improved over the DirectX 2.0 standard of the original. Unfortunately, the drawn out development process meant that the game was targeted for DirectX 9.0c, and lack the features of DX 10, 10.1, and DirectX 11. While the game looks good, it doesn't look as good as it could be.

The game is still capable of challenging graphics cards, especially at higher resolutions like 1920x1200 and 2560x1600. ATI Eyefinity multi-monitor technology is supported, and players fortunate enough to have a Radeon 5870 HD Eyefinity Edition can game with up to six monitors.

Heavy use of the Havok Physics engine and ability to use more units also means that the game is more likely to be CPU limited. Although StarCraft 2 is not multi-core optimized, players will still see a boost from using dual- and quad-core systems.

The original StarCraft game made heavy use of LAN gaming as internet usage was not prevalent or fast at the time of its release. Broadband internet access is now readily available, so Blizzard has made the decision to remove LAN gaming support. Gamers will be required to connect through Blizzard's servers in an attempt to crack down on piracy.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is available for sale in retail standard and collector's editions, as well as for digital download directly from Blizzard. MSRP for the standard edition is $60, while the collector's edition sells for $100. It includes a 176-page hardcover art book, a 2GB dog tag USB flash drive containing copies of the original StarCraft and Brood War expansion, a soundtrack CD, and a DVD with interviews and additional cutscenes.

In an unusual marketing move, Blizzard announced that South Korean players would be able to play StarCraft II for free as long as their World of Warcraft subscriptions are active. Retailer K-Mart is currently offering a $20 gaming coupon on in-store purchases of the game through the end of the month.


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Unusual yes, but smart.
By danobrega on 7/27/2010 10:31:26 AM , Rating: 2
In an unusual marketing move, Blizzard announced that South Korean players would be able to play StarCraft II for free as long as their World of Warcraft subscriptions are active. Retailer K-Mart is currently offering a $20 gaming coupon on in-store purchases of the game through the end of the month.

It would be funny if 50% of their WoW subscription base stopped playing for a few months to play SC2.

RE: Unusual yes, but smart.
By bighairycamel on 7/27/2010 11:27:58 AM , Rating: 2
That doesn't mean they will cancel their subscription.

SC2 could have been ready months ago, despite what they say about development resources. They timed the release with WoW players in mind. With no new content in WoW till the expansion, and no release date on it yet, this was released to "hold over" the WoW players until then. I don't think it was a coincidence that SC2 was released between the end of new content for WotLK and Cataclysm.

To prove my point: the country with the greatest odds of canceling their subscription to play SC2? S Korea. And look at the deal they offered them. It's a smart move really; tide over the WoW players and make $50 per at the same time.

RE: Unusual yes, but smart.
By afkrotch on 7/27/2010 10:24:58 PM , Rating: 2
WoW isn't all that big of a game in S.Korea, as it is in the US. Something like SC2 could easily cause a sharp decline in customer subscriptions. Regardless of the move, I expect many will still give up on WoW. Give up on the multitude of other S.Korean MMO offerings, I don't know.

RE: Unusual yes, but smart.
By callmeroy on 7/28/2010 10:14:46 AM , Rating: 2
Actually according to wow census reports -- the US has LESS subscribers (accounts originating from a US based address) than Europe or Asia does.

Last time I checked it was something like 2.5 mil US, 4.x mil Asia and about 3 mil EU (Europe)...

I'll make an update post if I have time to get the latest census figures...the estimate above was from what I remembered last time i looked it up -- which was about 2 months ago.

RE: Unusual yes, but smart.
By afkrotch on 7/28/2010 7:04:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, cause 4.x mil in Asia is the same as 2.5m in the US. I mean, it's not like Asia has a more gigantic population than the US.

But hey, if you want to look at the US's 300 million or Asia's 3.8 billion. So, 0.8% of US population play WoW. 0.1% of Asia's population plays WoW (based on 5 mil WoW userbase). Yes, according to those numbers, Asia definitely tops the US.

Pfff. Lineage II still has a higher userbase than WoW and majority of that is from Asia. Aion. RF Online. Ragnorak Online. Many of these MMOs are made in Korea and appeal to the Asian market a lot better than say, a kiddy MMO like WoW. Go to any PC bang here in Korea and most of the time, you aren't going to be playing WoW on their machines.

RE: Unusual yes, but smart.
By callmeroy on 7/29/2010 11:45:38 AM , Rating: 2
Holy crap dude..take your meds already.

What does your reply about the population of the US being less than the population of Asia (not to mention I think we learn that in what...2nd or 3rd grade?) have ANYTHING to do with your original comment?

Your statment implied that more people play WoW in the US, than in Korea..did it not?

I merely came back using information that WoW census stated which is more people play the game in Asia than in the US.

So what is so darn hard to understand here?

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