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Real Time Strategy (Games) PC Games (Games) The Almighty Buck Games

StarCraft II Cost $100 Million To Develop 414

Posted by Soulskill
from the did-they-have-to-send-a-space-shuttle-to-pick-up-kerrigan dept.
UgLyPuNk writes with news of a report that Blizzard has spent over $100 million developing StarCraft II. Initial development on the game began in 2003, and it's due to be released on July 27th. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick "described StarCraft as one of the company’s seven 'pillars of opportunity' (where each pillar has the potential to deliver operating profit between $500 million and $1 billion over its life span)." The finalized system requirements for the game have been released, and players planning to buy the digitally distributed version can download it now, though it won't be playable until the 27th.
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StarCraft II Cost $100 Million To Develop

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  • by kyrio (1091003) <(slashdot) (at) (lurkmore.com)> on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:26PM (#32943200) Homepage

    If the crackers find a way to play before the start date.

    • by Asmor (775910)

      I suspect it will be at least a little while before one can play a pirated copy of the game online, though, which reduces the value significantly. AFAIK all online play requires going through Blizzard's Battle.net service.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Idiomatick (976696)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:36PM (#32943268)

      "If the crackers find a way to play before the start date."

      Indeed, white people can be very impatient.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:38PM (#32943272) Journal
      It would be a surprise. DRM is hard because it means giving the user the locked box, and the key, and then trying to order their computer to pretend that the key only exists on every second tuesday.

      Conventional cryptography is very much up to the task of just giving the user the locked box, presumably with a dinky little stub program that will grab the decryption key when it is released.

      There have been attacks, or inside jobs, before, so the decryption key(or a few vital binaries, if they went with that approach, or used it to augment this one), could theoretically get leaked; but the task of giving somebody something on day X and only releasing it on day X+Y is theoretically unproblematic. You have to actively fuck it up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Hurricane78 (562437)

        Nearly...

        DRM is physically impossible because it means giving the user the locked box, the key, and a list of commands for its cpu to make it pretend that the key only exists on every second tuesday, and then expecting the user to neither look at the key, nor touch the list of commands, before feeding them to its cpu.

        There, fixed that for you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)

      1. Wrap the whole stuff in AES.
      2. Release the key on release date.

      This is not the DRM problem of giving the locked box and the key, you simply don't give the key.

  • and still (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:31PM (#32943236) Journal
    Wow, $100million dollars and STILL couldn't afford to include LAN play. No worries, someone will do it for them free ;)
  • by ZirbMonkey (999495) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:34PM (#32943254)

    It only took them 10 years to release. If they'd released it 5 years ago, it would have only cost a fraction of that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by waambulance (1766146)
      if they had added (n total developers) * (years in development) developers, they could have released it in a year... ah well. kotick can be clueless sometimes... -0.
      • by SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:19PM (#32943566) Journal

        You cannot add developers to a project and make it release sooner, no more than 9 women can make a baby in one month.

        Blizzard knows this, and thus they take their time. A lot of time they spend on their core values (gameplay first, commit to quality, embrace your inner geek, etc) requires constant communication, and adding people makes this worse -- communication channels increase geometrically as people are added to a project.

        For example, doubling the number of people on a team will quadruple the number of people who can talk to each other, making it much more difficult to synchronize efforts consistently. 50 developers will have 50 * (50 – 1) / 2 = 1225 channels of communication.

        Not to mention that new employees require significant training, or else they'll introduce significant amount of bugs and flaws into a program or other creative effort. You can actually end up worse than you started if you have more bugs, gameplay issues, inconsistent storylines, and so forth to fix at the end of the day than the beginning.

        This is called Brooks' Law, and was detailed in 1975 by Fred Brooks in the book 'The Mythical Man Month'. Wikipedia article is here:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooks's_law [wikipedia.org]

  • Expenses (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by binkzz (779594)

    Most of that money will have gone into graphics and marketing.

    No wonder large companies have to create a top 10 game in order to get their investment back!

    If they would settle for 20% less impressive graphics, I bet they'd save more than 50% on the bills. And then they wouldn't have to be so scared about piracy, either.

    • Blizzard usually doesn't go for the latest and greatest graphics. If you look at screenshots of SC2, it's using graphics that are technically a few years old. As in a video card from 06 could render it with no problem.

      Whatever money blizzards dumps into their graphics, its into the art, not into trying to cram more polygons on screen.
      • by binkzz (779594)
        Alright. But then I'm curious how the $100M is divided up.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by TheLink (130905)
          Hookers, blow and blackjack?

          I guess there was some pizza and mountain dew too.
        • by Surt (22457)

          50% to salaries for a very large team (dev, artists, qa). About 20-25% for marketing. 10% or so for hardware (for battlenet around the world). 5% for pro voice actors. 10% management.

          • by Rick Zeman (15628)

            50% to salaries for a very large team (dev, artists, qa). About 20-25% for marketing. 10% or so for hardware (for battlenet around the world). 5% for pro voice actors. 10% management.

            + overhead (offices, phones, internet, 'infrastructure, etc)....

  • Pillars (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pranadevil2k (687232) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:46PM (#32943326)

    Let's see...
    Activision's seven pillars are most likely:
    World of Warcraft
    Unnamed Blizzard MMORPG
    Diablo
    StarCraft
    Guitar/Band Hero
    Call of Duty .... And what else?

    They only have a few other franchises to work with.. the LEGO game series, Cabela's hunting games (lol), and Marvel Ultimate Alliance.
    As far as I know their contract with Marvel is over, so they might not be able to produce another M:UA game.
    None of these remaining franchises seem like 1 billion dollar winners, so what does that leave for the seventh pillar?

    • Actually I think it is the Lego series, those are mega sellers and Activision is miking them to death, just like every other one of their non-Blizzard originated franchises.
    • Re:Pillars (Score:5, Informative)

      by alexhs (877055) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:00PM (#32943428) Homepage Journal

      Well, if you RTFA...

      1. Starcraft
      2. WoW
      3. Diablo
      4. Blizzard's "secret new MMO"
      5. Bungie‘s unnannounced new IP <- You missed that one
      6. Guitar Hero
      7. Call of Duty

    • Re:Pillars (Score:4, Informative)

      by OzPeter (195038) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:01PM (#32943434)

      None of these remaining franchises seem like 1 billion dollar winners, so what does that leave for the seventh pillar?

      Well its got to be one of:

      • Pride
      • Envy
      • Gluttony
      • Lust
      • Anger
      • Greed
      • Sloth

      Given that its a gaming company, I'd be going with Greed

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Bobby Kotick himself.

      Hey, his quote in TFS doesn't appear to say that all pillars must be games.

  • "On the surface investing so much into a PC title seems like an odd move"

    I assume they mean $100 million for the entire series (Wings of Liberty, Legacy of the Void, Heart of the Swarm), making it ~33 per game? After all, they're selling them at full price, and mentioned several times that each installment could stand on it's own. Seeing as they're doing this to brag, it seems odd they wouldn't mention that it was just Wings of Liberty if that was the case.
  • Not so great (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:59PM (#32943426)

    I was in the beta program, and I've got to say I didn't enjoy the game nearly as much as I did the original StarCraft. It's possible that I'm just outgrowing that kind of game, but I really just wasn't enjoying the gameplay so much.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I found the gameplay to be great, but the attitudes of Battle.net players really turned me off. This is essentially the same reason I stopped playing WoW. The Blizzard gaming community as a whole may be large, but it is also comprised of many people with poor sportsmanship and overall poor attitude. I don't think any RealID forum plans (which have been rolled back) would have helped very much. Spoiled teenagers and socially maladjusted adults generally don't care about consequences.

      The final straw in SC2 be

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by chronosan (1109639)
        Wow, that dude is messed up. I've never seen anything other than "gl hf" and "gg" playing the beta. Maybe you're one of the lucky few that had working VOIP?
    • Too fast (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AlpineR (32307) <wagnerr@umich.edu> on Sunday July 18, 2010 @03:55PM (#32944630) Homepage

      I was in the beta program too and didn't enjoy it much either. I'd play a game or two and then quit for the evening, whereas with the original Starcraft I'd get sucked in and play for hours (often into the wee hours of the morning and miss out on sleep).

      One problem I noticed is that the game moves too fast. The units do so much damage that they kill each other or buildings in mere seconds. There's no time to send reinforcements, cast spells, or even retreat. Well, maybe pro players with 600 APM can do that stuff, but for an average player the battles are over before you even get the alert that they've started.

  • menu (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shipbrick (929823)
    Wow for $100 million dollars you think they could design a freaking menu interface. The beta was absolutely terrible, not intuitive at all and you end up with like 3 chat windows for talking with one person. I hope it was 100% remade before launch with some of that 100 million. The gameplay is ok, it feels like Starcraft but with better graphics. So if you are feeling nostalgic, you can drop $60 or just buy an old used copy for probably $5. I'll probably still buy it just to play occasionally online wit
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Vaphell (1489021)

      pretty much unanimously community thinks that bnet 2.0 is a hardcore fail, it doesn't offer features available 10 years ago in classic battle.net, like convenient means of communication between players or ability to play across region borders. What people get now looks like flash ridden XBoxLive imitation, infested with Facebook and people say you can actually feel lonely there with thousands of players. But hey, you can farm achievements!

      That's what you get when your services are shaped primarily by Activi

    • by Fumus (1258966)

      I'll probably still buy it just to play occasionally online with friends though...

      I hope your friends live nearby because if you want to play with people from another region (Europe, US, Asia) then you need to buy a CD-Key for that region as well.

  • ...you're gonna have to buy this game 3 times.

    You're a sucker if you buy SC2. Go play something else. Go get League of Legends or something. Don't encourage this shit where you pay $50-60 a pop 2-3 times just to get an entire game.

    • by Urkki (668283) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @03:24PM (#32944408)

      ...you're gonna have to buy this game 3 times.

      You're a sucker if you buy SC2. Go play something else. Go get League of Legends or something. Don't encourage this shit where you pay $50-60 a pop 2-3 times just to get an entire game.

      Apparently you don't understand. It's very simple really. It's Starcraft. S-T-A-R-C-R-A-F-T. Everything else, such as life, liberty and pursuit of (any other kind of) happiness, is secondary.

      (And no, I'm not a real fan, and I have no current plans to play or buy the game, just saying...)

  • And they still don't support Linux.

    Yeah, yeah, I know, small market share, not enough interest, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah, ad infintitum, ad nausium.
  • these were 2 major pillars of starcraft that contributed to its success. dont falter on that. if you dont, razor1911 or skidrow will probably fix the lan play issue but you need to give us the chat.
  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @02:11PM (#32943884) Homepage Journal

    So, how is someone supposed to magically know if the GPU in his computer is better or worse than the GPUs listed for Starcraft II?

    Seriously, Apple has used so few GPUs since they switched to intel, the least Blizzard could do is list all of the supported ones.

    Where does the 9400M and the 320M fall in that list? The 320M is more powerful than the 9400M, so we can't even go by numbers alone. Stupid marketing departments with their crazy GPU names.

    • by iamhassi (659463) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @03:02PM (#32944210) Journal
      "Apple has used so few GPUs... Where does the 9400M and the 320M fall in that list?"

      TFA: [blizzard.com]
      "Mac Recommended System Requirements:....9600M GT or ATI Radeon® HD 4670 or better"
      Usually I'd agree, it can sometimes be hard to figure out if a 4890 is better than a 5750, etc, but in this case they made it pretty clear. A 9400M is not as fast as a 9600M, so while it'll play on minimum it isn't the recommended GPU.

      FYI if you ever want to check just google "(BLANK) vs (BLANK)". Chances are you'll find a review comparing the two GPU unless one of them is so old it's not even worth comparing it with the other GPU.

      Here's a great example: "PC Recommended System Requirements:... ATI Radeon® HD 3870 or better"

      So I googled: Radeon 3870 vs 4770 [google.com] and found this review [hwcompare.com] which shows the 4770 scoring 30%+ better framerates than the 3870.
  • No Download (Score:4, Informative)

    by stimpleton (732392) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:33PM (#32945214)
    "digitally distributed version can download it now, though it won't be playable until the 27th."

    My experience of this this of approach is unpleasant. While I talk about steam games, and while this is Battle.Net I am wary. Pre downloading then activating on the day of release for left 4 dead 2 was terrible. It probaly has something to do with time zones as the "27th" will occur a half day before for me(being in new zealand). On that day of release the sun rose, the shops opened and the copies were on the shelf. I was not able to activate for another 24 hours. Some NZ'ers could but not me.

    I note battlenet say it is "activatable once it goes on sale in the US". 07/27/2010 10:00 AM PDT

    NZ'ers and Australians, remember, copies will have been on the shelf for one day, if that affects your decision to download (BattleNet downloader 3 meg. Starcraft 2 client 8GB). Ports required are ports 3724, 6112, 6113, 6114, 4000 or 6881-6999. so if you are in a restricted environment you will get "Tracker Not Responding"

HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!

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