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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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RE: I was all smiles till..
By Reclaimer77 on 7/27/2010 12:38:12 PM , Rating: -1
Self centered much?

The most anticipated title in a decade, costing over 100 million to develop and launch, and all you can talk about is LAN support? Really, nice review...NOT.

News flash, it's 2010. Everyone having high speed internet makes "LAN parties" less and less desirable. Anyone who doesn't buy StarCraft II because of lack of LAN support should be executed, seriously.

I vote we frag this original poster.

RE: I was all smiles till..
By Pirks on 7/27/10, Rating: 0
RE: I was all smiles till..
By Reclaimer77 on 7/27/2010 2:51:32 PM , Rating: 1
The Wall Street Journal mis-quoted the figure, I just Googled and discovered this. So actually we have no idea how much it costs. Blizzard hasn't released the figures.

But in typical Pirks fashion, you talk about of your ass. What version of DirectX a game uses has nothing to do with the impact of the art and musical costs of development. Comparing Crysis to Starcraft II development costs?? Are you serious!?

RE: I was all smiles till..
By Pirks on 7/27/2010 3:12:35 PM , Rating: 1
Developing simple rendering engine for older DX revisions is much cheaper then large scale R&D effort required to build a modern rendering monster like CryENGINE. So this is why SC2 must be cheaper to develop than Crysis, eventhough I agree that the source art creation costs may be about the same for both. Pure engine R&D and coding costs are where the difference is.

You're pretty dumb, Reclaimer. Why? Because if I were wrong and rendering engines came CHEAP like you stated, then we'd see DOZENS AND DOZENS of Crysis like photorealistic shooters flooding the market.

But we see none and even the latest AvP is far cry from that. So eat the pun lama :P And think about costs again. My words come out of simple business logic, can't say the same about yours.

RE: I was all smiles till..
By callmeroy on 7/27/2010 3:51:43 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not gonna get sucked into your argument - frankly I don't give a rat's ass if you like the game or the company...whatever floats your boat.

But I did want to reply, in case someone is on the fence of buying SCII -- SCII is FANTASTIC looking as far as RTS games go - it has to be one of the best looking RTS games ever made to date. So I don't get the "out dated" comment.

As far as the game itself -- I've only played with in Beta so far for a few hours...but even though it was awesome...very polished (since I was in the tail end of beta -- it closed within 3 days of me getting an invite!).

RE: I was all smiles till..
By Pirks on 7/29/2010 12:27:59 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah right I heard FANTASTIC words about AvP too and compared to Crysis it's NOT fantastic at all, although it's decent and fun, can't say it's bad. So don't use FANTASTIC with me, not gonna help much. Been there, seen that.

RE: I was all smiles till..
By callmeroy on 7/29/2010 3:45:06 PM , Rating: 2
Whatever...guess you miss the part before where I said i don't give a rat's ass what you think?

Your loss (to a great RTS gaming experience)...not going to effect me playing or enjoying it one iota...

RE: I was all smiles till..
By Iaiken on 7/27/2010 4:33:14 PM , Rating: 3
Oh Pirks. I find untold joy in the irony of you calling someone "pretty dumb" after trying to make an arguement against the game based on a made-up number. We'll find out in due time at the Activision-Blizzard SEC filing next year.

Further, the costs associated with SC2 won't just include the engine, in fact, that is probably the cheapest part of the game. Most of the money goes towards the man-hours required to create all of the art and a decent story spanning three seperate campaigns and perspectives. Not to mention the mindboggling costs of balacing out the units of 3 very different factions (which is by no means done). Then there is the cost of the all new (partly funded by and tested by World of Warcraft, which will also use the technology to a greater degree in the future).

As for the Crysis games, they've been a long running joke between my friends and I as the "Dumb Blonde" of video gaming. Sure it's pretty to look at, but getting involved with it shows you just how truly stupid the game really is. The real purpose of the Crysis games were to sell Cryengine to other developers and put the onus of creating compelling content on them while raking in licensing fees (other SEC filings suggest this is in the neighborhood of 5.2 million dollars per studio per game).

It's the same sort of apples and oranges comparison that can be expected from you and quite frankly I've begun to find you less and less entertaining because of your boring predictability. If you're going to keep trying to stir up sh!t, you're going to need to fling poo in fresh new ways.

RE: I was all smiles till..
By Iaiken on 7/27/2010 4:37:44 PM , Rating: 2
SEC filings suggest this is in the neighborhood of 5.2 million dollars per studio per game

Oh yeah, that's not including the royalties.

For a smash hit game, this can very quickly out-stripe the return on investment of simply developing your own engine. DICE specifically sited the exorbitant royalty costs as the reason for plowing ahead with the Frostbite engines.

RE: I was all smiles till..
By Pirks on 7/29/2010 12:41:21 PM , Rating: 1
Lotsa sensless angry steam after Reclaimer already confessed above that he lied about that $100 mil number (he lied because WSJ lied, so he says but wuteva).

Chill man, we'll see later when companies publish their financials. I'd be very surprised if Blizzard spent more than $20 mil on development and less than $80 mil on marketing ;)

RE: I was all smiles till..
By SoCalBoomer on 7/27/2010 3:11:08 PM , Rating: 2
approx 100mil is the number that is being used very very consistently. . .

next time, Pirks, use this little thing called "The Internet" for something besides trolling! :D

RE: I was all smiles till..
By sprockkets on 7/27/2010 8:48:48 PM , Rating: 1
I like how both your links have WSJ in them, the very source Pirks said was wrong with the 100 million in it.

Next time, try not sounding like a douche bag, douche bag.

RE: I was all smiles till..
By Reclaimer77 on 7/27/2010 9:14:05 PM , Rating: 2
Well Pirks made up numbers too. Crysis cost 22 million to develop, not 30. And they claim they made a profit, but because they are a German firm they apparently don't have to disclose those details like American companies do.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised if SCII came close or was at that 100 million number anyway. It was factually a massive undertaking, and the Battlenet upgrades for it alone couldn't have been cheap.

I don't care if it cost 20 bucks to make, comparing it to Crysis is an insult to Blizzard. This is probably the finest piece of opening day software I have ever experienced. The graphics, for an RTS game, are NOT old. They are amazing. The game play is flawless. Online play is balanced. And I haven't found a single bug or flaw yet.

Blizzard, you hit a home run. Again. Bring on Diablo III baby, I can't wait.

RE: I was all smiles till..
By tedrodai on 7/28/2010 12:47:05 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call the graphics amazing, but they're pretty decent. It looks like they put a LOT of effort into the graphics for the single-player campaign cutscenes/etc, though sometimes the voice acting and/or script is pretty lame.

However, I'm with you on the rest of it. The game is FUN. I'm thoroughly enjoying the campaign and the multiplayer games. I've been thirsting for a really good PC game like this without fully realizing it, because I've gotten used to even the blockbusters being pretty underwhelming in general. This game is going to hold my attention for a while, and I didn't think I'd have such a beast until D3 finally gets released.

RE: I was all smiles till..
By w1z4rd on 7/29/2010 4:54:26 AM , Rating: 1
I vote we frag you!

LAN was essential to SC1 - 12 years later i still play this game with my house mates and practically every other LAN party im at

Now i have to pay to play with my friends.... WTF?? pay as in use bandwidth i'd rather use for work btw! i know you're probably thinking get a bigger account - but i'm in a 3rd world country where a 5GB cap is expensive (yes!)

RE: I was all smiles till..
By w1z4rd on 7/29/2010 5:11:05 AM , Rating: 1
Plz dont just vote ppl down without ur own opinion its rude :)

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