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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 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 ;)

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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