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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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  • 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 ;)
  • Dear Bobby (Score:1, Interesting)

    by jpedlow (1154099) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:32PM (#32943244)
    Dear Mr. Kotick,
    You've already ruined infinity ward, please dont touch blizzard.

    ....You Greedy Asshat.
  • 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?

  • by Nursie (632944) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:53PM (#32943380)

    You may not get into it for single player, but there are those of us who don't play WoW because we don't have the time and like a good offline gaming experience.

    Not that I'm arguing for piracy here - If I want to play I'll buy - but online is not the only thing going and I hope they haven't neglected offline play. Knowing Blizzard though, they won't have neglected it because they do put so very much effort into making their games perfect.

  • Re:and still (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Korin43 (881732) * on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:54PM (#32943384) Homepage
    Some of the most entertaining LAN parties are in places with little or no internet access. My favorite was a cabin LAN party. The only internet access was via cell phone, and I can't image the charge if I had left it on the entire time.
  • 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.

  • menu (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shipbrick (929823) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:03PM (#32943450)
    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 with friends though...
  • 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]

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:19PM (#32943574)

    StarCraft (1) had a battle.net "replacement" for pirated games and those banned on battle.net. It essentially run battle.net-like server called fsgs that required you to replace a single file in your starcraft directory to connect to. After replacement, clicking battle.net in game took you to fsgs lobby.

    And it was pretty active community until blizzard shut it down (iirc) a few years ago. I would be very surprised if someone won't make a similar service for SC2, especially in light of how quickly world of warcraft server software leaks and is used on private servers after every patch.

  • Re:Not so great (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:19PM (#32943580)

    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 beta for me was basically as I was winning a match in 2v2. My opponent started going off on me, basically hurling extreme insults and some threats my way as I was destroying his base. I just stopped playing because this is basically the type of "gamer" that Blizzard seems to be catering to nowadays.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:22PM (#32943596) Journal
    They put a lot of work into single-player mode. Reports I've heard are things like non-linear story-lines, where choices you make in game change the story, and the cut scenes that have been released already make the story look good. You never know for sure until you play it, but all signs point towards a fun game.
  • Re:and still (Score:3, Interesting)

    by apoc.famine (621563) <apoc,famine&gmail,com> on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:29PM (#32943638) Homepage Journal
    Snowed in during New Year's Eve, 2000, LAN party in the drafty basement of an old farmhouse with 8-9 good friends. Enough comps that we kept the basement warm, but the drafts were cold enough by the windows and doors that we could cool the drinks there. Half the Starcraft copies were legit, half were clones of one of the others. Internet connection was something like 300/100 kpbs DSL, or maybe it was still dialup at that point.

    Regardless, LAN games don't need an internet connection beyond maybe a single one for patches that someone missed. I agree - some of my best LAN parties had little in the way of internet access. They had seclusion, good friends, good food, and lots of drinks. The games weren't even that important, really.

    So as it stands now, the next one will be UT2004 and maybe Dawn of War. Starcraft 2 is out, and UT3 is enough of a pain that we likely won't play it unless on a very, very beefy internet connection.
  • by SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:32PM (#32943650) Journal

    Paranoia and profits is why you can skip LAN'ing, or even discourage it.

    Anything that doesn't have to phone home to function is easily cracked. Roughly ten years ago, I played Starcraft 1 constantly, through single player and dozens of LAN parties, and never paid for it. I never cared much for battle.net.

    And unlike 10 years ago, the cases where people cannot phone home with broadband access, or even internet access itself, are rare. Even console systems are borderline dependent on internet access these days. As far as camping/moving/etc goes, most reasonably-populated areas have 3G, and you'll have 3G just about everywhere in a few years.

    Therefore, it's rather simple what to do. LANs without internet access are probably only 1% of gameplay these days. Maybe only 1% of gamers won't buy it because of this.

    If the game wasn't required to phone home in any manner, perhaps 20% of people will probably just play the game cracked off of bittorrent. The answer's obvious: go with the extra 19% of purchases. Is it fair to those who enjoy LANs? No. Call it tyranny of the majority, call it what you will.

    If you want to LAN, you can always play SC1, or just play board games.

  • Re:Lies. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Surt (22457) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:34PM (#32943670) Homepage Journal

    7 years, 100 employees, averages salary 100K works out to 70 million. That's probably a lowball for both the number of employees on the SC team and their average salary. Then add equipment, acting (voice) talent, marketing, production, management, and I don't find 100M surprising. Then again, I worked on the smaller D2 team, and I know what our burn rate was there.

  • Re:and still (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:58PM (#32943802) Homepage Journal

    Playing in network environments not hooked up to the Internet much?

    Wow, fanboy much?

    The simple fact is that there are MANY times and places where LAN support is very helpful, if not outright required. Several other posters have enumerated the latter, but for the former, you need to consider scale.

    Sure, if you have 4-6 people playing then maybe going over the Internet to Battle.net is an okay (if lame) solution. What about a group of 20? 50? 200? Blizzard has repeatedly said they want Starcraft II to be a serious e-sport contender, both in Asia and in the US/Europe. During the beta, people trying to organize big LAN-style game sessions have noted that their plans completely fell apart when they discovered that Battle.net limited the number of players per IP address to 12. This might have changed, but the fact that they instituted any limit should be telling.

    To pull this off, they will be required to implement some form of LAN play, something they've already said they will do [bigdownload.com]:

    "We will be addressing StarCraft II tournament functionality in a post launch patch to the game, soon after ship. This patch will include features to address the needs of location-based pro tournaments, but we have not discussed any specifics about tournament support beyond that."

    Blizzard denies the rumors of a LAN-enabled "Professional Edition", but it sure sounds like that's the direction they're heading. On one hand Blizzard claims that "No LAN because Battle.net 2 is just so amazing we can't let anyone miss out!" and then on the other "Okay, LAN play is required but only high rollers get it, not the rest of you, you dirty pirates". Anyone who's played the beta knows how bad and lacking Battle.net 2 is. Yes, it's beta, but the final release is in less than 10 days. It's not like they're going to uncheck the "Battle.net sucks enabled" checkbox the day before.

    I want to love Starcraft 2, but Blizzard-Activision is making it so hard :(

  • by LaRainette (1739938) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @02:14PM (#32943900)

    The linux requirements on their page are a bit ridiculous.. Dual Core 2.5 GHz and Ubuntu only? Jeeze... I'll wait for the fedora rpm thank you.

    wtf ?
    Which Linux requirements on what page ?

    Starcraft II is natively playable on Ubuntu ? => *happy geek*

    I though it was a total rumour !

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @02:21PM (#32943932)

    I wish more game makers thought the same way. Ive just never really enjoyed playing online against mostly 12 year old kids. I've picked up a few PC games before that looked fun, but immediately put them back once I saw the "Broadband connection required" in the requirements. Perhaps I'm an oddity in the gaming world, but I really don't enjoy online games. (I cant stand MMO games what-so-ever, Its kinda like the dregs of the internet were swept up and put into a trash can labeled WoW)

    Posting anon cause I half expect to get flamed for the MMO/WoW comment.

  • by aepervius (535155) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @03:24PM (#32944406)
    I germany there are starcraft advertising at prime time. That can't be cheap. And that is only one country.
  • 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.

  • You all mad? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:06PM (#32945078)

    Consider that Starcraft, the number one selling RTS which is the leader in esports which has also been available for 12 years, has only sold 11 MILLION COPIES! This is a game which was nice enough to let you play a LAN game with only one gamedisc. I don't blame them for the big fuck you.

  • by ildon (413912) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:29PM (#32945516)

    The only missing "features" in offline mode will be unlocking achievements, saving your progress on the cloud, and sending in-game and cross-game messages while playing single player. Not one of those actually has any impact whatsoever on the game itself (presuming you don't mind copying save files to a portable storage device to continue your game progress on another machine, which is a practice nearly as old as gaming itself).

  • Re:correction (Score:3, Interesting)

    by N0Man74 (1620447) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:27PM (#32945812)

    I'm sure they are putting money into marketing, sure. Also, I have reservations about what I've heard about this game's DRM and I'm waiting to see how this will be handled at launch.

    However, there is absolutely no denying that a lot of work went into this game. A tremendous number of man hours and assets were involved. If you truly believe that this is nothing but marketing hype masking a shallow cheap production, then you are either delusional or have your head up your ass.

  • More than that... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by N0Man74 (1620447) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:48PM (#32945932)

    Wait a minute, you were being sarcastic! Damnit, I guess I can't get a "whoosh" now that I've caught that. :(

    Anyway, It's not just the #1 RTS of all time... it's the #4 Top Selling PC game of all time (according to this article on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

    You bought up a point that's really bothered me. When the original was published, they were smart enough to allow for Spawned copies, so that only a certain number of players had to even own a legitimate copy. They didn't need cracks, just spawned a LAN only copy and they were good to go for a LAN party. Hell, I know that half of the people I played with would have never bought StarCraft, if they had not got hooked on it off the completely legal and Blizzard authorized (and provided) copies of the game, myself included!

    The game industry is losing their way, and that includes Blizzard, who at one time were one of the most respected, appreciated, and admired video game companies out there.

  • Re:Not so great (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Phazm (629398) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:25PM (#32946822)

    The changes to the game have been an improvement from SC1 in my eyes. Basic macro is a lot easier (multiple building selection) and the micro has a lot of fun units to play with (blink stalkers).

    The rock-paper-scissors match-up of the 3 races has settled quite nicely since the beginning of beta and is more fun to play overall for a few reasons. The AI for swarms of units has been improved and because some overpowered abilities such as psi storm have been changed. Now you see more storms but they have decreased radius and damage due to the +25 energy upgrade (can storm on warp-in).

    Overall this game is a blast and it has a ton of modding potential as well, more than SC1. I recommend if you want to get comfortable quickly with the match-ups, watch some youtube vids of some of the high-level players. Check youtube for a few key casters - HuskyStarcraft, HDStarcraft, PsyStarcraft, AskJoshy, Day[9].

  • Re:Too fast (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:02PM (#32953516)

    I know the feeling, but have you tried picking up the original Starcraft again after 10+ years?
    I have, and had the same problem.

    I just aged..

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