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Real Time Strategy (Games)

Can Blizzard Top StarCraft? 144

MSNBC is running an interview with Blizzard designer Rob Pardo discussing a number of facets of the upcoming StarCraft II. Informational tidbits include the fact that, unsurprisingly, the game won't be released this year, and some background on the game's long development cycle. "Penny Arcade figured it out! We keep games under code names and we teach developers to refer to games by their code name. And we're just really careful about talking about the game internally. We don't bring external folks through unannounced product areas. But I think even I'm surprised that we were able to keep it under wraps all the way to the end."
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Can Blizzard Top StarCraft?

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  • by the computer guy nex ( 916959 ) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @03:02PM (#19341937)
    .. can Blizzard top Wow?

    Starcraft sold a ton of copies, but it is now a moneysink. It is free to play on Battle.Net and not many new copies are being sold. They are continuously losing money from a game created many many years ago.

    The $15/month from a MMO cannot be understated. The decision to make a non-MMO game after the success of WoW is very puzzling.
  • by Applekid ( 993327 ) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @03:15PM (#19342155)
    I'm not sure that's such a fair comparison: Starcraft isn't likely to cannibalize sales and if Blizzard gets a good ROI from this new project, the success of WoW in comparison is moot... IF the teams developing aren't being pulled away from maintaining and enhancing WoW in a way that matters. Looking at the later half of EQ, most of the staff wound up replaced by less experienced (read: cheaper) developers to maintain it since at that time the code base was mature enough that nothing could be messed with that would destroy the world as players knew it.

    I'll assume they did the math and figured it'd be a good investment. Blizzard is a business first, after all.

    Meanwhile, if they made a new MMOG to top themselves with WoW, they risk the new project cannibalizing their own subscribers. Back in the day I played Everquest and with new-at-the-time games like Anarchy Online and Planetside I still couldn't bring myself to pay for more than one online game since A) the new game consumes time, B) time is linked to progress in MMOGs by design, C) I'm paying full price regardless of how many hours I actually use each period.
  • by djones101 ( 1021277 ) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @03:26PM (#19342333)

    I'd question if StarCraft really is losing them money. People are still purchasing the game, either replacing old disks or buying it for the first time, and the related paraphernalia associated with StarCraft still sells quite well. There's still a huge following for StarCraft in Korea, which is why they announced SC2 there. StarCraft was released in 1998, and as of a few years ago, it still had branded Doritos being distributed (cannot verify if they still are, sorry). So far as I can tell, no other game (MMO or not) has managed to have that kind of staying power a marketplace outside of its own industry.

    I won't argue that WoW is Blizzard's bread and butter, they've got a ton of subscribers (myself included) pouring a lot of money into their coffers, but I heavily disagree that SC is a negative drain on their resources. A moneysink would be what is left of the game originally known as SWG, if Blizzard had that steamy pile of poodoo instead of SOE. Running servers for something with as rabid a following as SC, however, is far from a moneysink. It maintains a status quo, and probably breaks even when cost is weighed against revenue.

    Finally, the decision to not pursue an MMO is actually a good one, imho. It avoids cutting into Blizzard's current revenue stream...WoW. When you have something that works, especially something that works as well as WoW does for making money, why jeopardize that? What would happen if they made a World of StarCraft, and users found they hated that game? Some would gravitate back to WoW, others would swear off Blizzard games entirely. Personally, that's what I did with SOE's handling of SWG. SOE may very well come out with the best WoW killer ever, but myself and a ton of other old-style SWG players would snub the game just because SOE is involved with it. The same could happen to Blizzard with a competing MMO that doesn't live up to the hype it's given before release. They know SC2 will generate a great return on investment, simply because of the hype associated and the loyal fans they have already. They have no need to top WoW, they only need to satiate as much of the playerbase for SC2 as possible.

  • by Fozzyuw ( 950608 ) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @03:28PM (#19342367)

    Starcraft sold a ton of copies, but it is now a moneysink. It is free to play on Battle.Net and not many new copies are being sold. They are continuously losing money from a game created many many years ago....The $15/month from a MMO cannot be understated.

    From the article (one of more interesting parts, I think)...

    Given the popularity of "WoW," do you have any plans to go to subscription model with "StarCraft II" or any subsequent releases?

    We're going to do what's right for the game. We made "WoW" to be a subscription game from the very beginning. With "StarCraft II" it's probably going to follow more of a box model. But we'll decide more of that stuff down the line. is pretty expensive to maintain, isn't it?

    It's not as expensive as "WoW" to maintain! (Laughs)

    Interesting... will Blizzard make the first attempt to charge a subscription, ala XBox live, for playing online via What would that price be in the market place, if that choice is made? $5/month? $50/year? More likely, they won't charge anything, but it's interesting to hear they're considering it, though probably not taking it seriously.


  • Not a chance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by anduz ( 1027854 ) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @03:33PM (#19342463)
    I watched the gameplay video and I liked most of what I saw in it, but they're talking an awful lot about recapturing the things that made starcraft great - only the things they focus on are counter strategies, play and diverse factions. Which is great, but that alone doesn't make a new starcraft - and I'm worried that Blizzard won't be able to own up to the great gameplay they used too.

    Which seem to be a problem in recent Blizzard releases, because where the gameplay itself used to be their strongest advantage it now seems to be the weakest. World of Warcraft doesn't sell copies because it has great gameplay, but because it functions as a virtual stamp collection with friends. You, me, everyone gets addicted to the game because you can achive achive achive - but where diablo 2 which also focused on achivement actually was fun while you achive World of Warcraft isn't. At least that is how I experienced the reactions on recent Blizzard games. I know about 50 people who own Warcraft 3, but the only thing they use it for is Dota which is a player made map/mod. I also know quite a lot of people who keep playing World of Warcraft despite continuously complaining about it feeling more like a job than a video game.
    Maybe I'm wrong, but it does seem to fit with the massive stream of talented developers who fled Blizzard a few years ago - leaving to companies like Flagship studeos, red5 and so on. Which is where I personally believe we'll be seing the next Starcraft/Diablo/Warcarft quality games comming from in terms of gameplay. Naturally both Blizzard and Starcraft are huge brands, and I very much doubt Starcraft 2 will fail in any way - but to fans who agree with me I do believe it'll be unable to provide the kind of magic the origianl Starcraft did.
  • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @03:45PM (#19342653) Homepage Journal
    Balance is the secret. Blizzard spent two years polishing the balance of WCIII. *Two* whole years just balancing the races. That's why they sell #1 titles for years.

    There are plenty of other games that have better controls, better features, less repetition and clicking, more races, equal or better storytelling, better graphics. But the one thing that they do not have that blizzard does is racial balance. That's what truly makes the multiplayer experience a game, where any round could almost always go any way, instead of it always being a blow-out because one player knew the surefire technique. Blizzard's games are about strategy, not tricks.
  • Re:Top starcraft? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phildawg ( 1104325 ) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @03:56PM (#19342825)
    I thought half-life 2 and doom 3 were outstanding games! And I think it's bullshit some want to lump them into the sequel category. I think what you are forgetting is how long it takes for these sequels to come out compared to others.

    A company who is milking a franchise releases the sequels relatively quickly, not 5-10 years down the road... When a sequel is released 5 years after the first one... I'd say those are typically going to be amazing games, because it took so long because they were trying to make it right, not milk it.

    If you want to milk a title, you release it ASAP and patch content later... along with sell them tons of expansion packs. Look at the MMO genre. Blizzard has put out 1 expansion in the time their competitors will put out 3-5 expansions. Is it no wonder why the other games suck? It's obvious the 3-5 expansion guys are trying to milk the customers. Blizzard is all about quality, and their games can last for many years for an expansion or sequel release.
  • by twistedsymphony ( 956982 ) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @04:05PM (#19342929) Homepage
    I'd agree, If Blizzard were to make a new MMO I would assume they'd probably make something for the 360/PS3 platforms where they could grow an entirely new userbase without sacrificing their current ones.

    Despite the fact that WoW has been out for quite some time I think most of the users would feel the game was being abandoned before it's time if they turned out another MMO. Starcraft on the other hand is long overdue for a new addition to the franchise. The advancements in technology alone give them a lot of room to improve.

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler