Starcraft 2 Multiplayer May Become Free-To-Play

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Starcraft 2 Multiplayer May Become Free-To-Play

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Blizzard considers lowering the cost of entry to the eSports scene.

Playing Starcraft 2 competitively comes at a price: the recommended retail price, that is. The eSports scene could do with more aspiring professional gamers these days, and lowering the barriers to entry can help bolster numbers. Blizzard has considered this, and recently revealed there may be a possibility that Starcraft 2's multiplayer component will use the free-to-play model.

Dustin Browder, Blizzard's lead designer for the highly popular RTS, was asked about the company's plans for free-to-play in a panel at the Valencia eSports Congress. In response, he said that the company was "looking at free-to-play as an option for the multiplayer", although he admitted afterwards that there were some concerns regarding the logistics involved in moving from a paid product to a free one.

"We don't know how we would monetize it," he explained. "While it might be good fun for me to play against someone with only half the units available to them, that's not going to be an enjoyable experience for them."

The move to a free-to-play model may not be out of the question, though, since games such as Dota 2 and League of Legends both currently operate on a free-to-play model and also maintain a healthy presence in the eSports scene. At the moment, Starcraft 2 already has a "Starter Edition" that allows people to try out a handful of multiplayer maps for free, but only as a Terran.

Given that Blizzard is still working on the release of the Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void expansions, it's likely that the change won't be happening any time soon.

Source: PCGamesN

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Put advertisements that are unskippable before and after each match.

Instant money with no need to cut units. I suppose custom unit skins could bring in some money too, or maps like CoD does.

Also, drop the single player price down to 30 or 40 dollars, I dont give a shit about multiplayer!

FelixG:
Put advertisements that are unskippable before and after each match.

Instant money with no need to cut units. I suppose custom unit skins could bring in some money too, or maps like CoD does.

Also, drop the single player price down to 30 or 40 dollars, I dont give a shit about multiplayer!

What happens if a free person is playing a person who owns the game? Wouldn't having to wait for them to watch an advertisement slow down your game?

And if it does go f2p cue the "Omg itz ruined 4eva! fuck you blizzard i is never buying anything from you ever again!" morons >.>

Of course if it tried to include things like a levelling system and such to attempt to monetize it that would end badly...
Perhaps something like people with the 'paid' version get unit skins and are prioritized in queues? I reckon that could work.

Yeah... there's a difference between not owning all the champs in league, and not having all of your units in a true RTS.

Clive Howlitzer:

What happens if a free person is playing a person who owns the game? Wouldn't having to wait for them to watch an advertisement slow down your game?

What the ad pre connecting to a game. Watch ad, look for games, connect, play, watch ad. Paying customers are uninhibited as they are not paired with anyone watching an ad, the pairing only happens after the ad is watched.

Clive Howlitzer:

What happens if a free person is playing a person who owns the game? Wouldn't having to wait for them to watch an advertisement slow down your game?

Joccaren:

Clive Howlitzer:

What happens if a free person is playing a person who owns the game? Wouldn't having to wait for them to watch an advertisement slow down your game?

What the ad pre connecting to a game. Watch ad, look for games, connect, play, watch ad. Paying customers are uninhibited as they are not paired with anyone watching an ad, the pairing only happens after the ad is watched.

Exactly, alternatively, sell the single player portion of the game for 30-40 dollars as I said and just give everyone on multiplayer the ads with the option to buy your way out of them, in which case revert to how Joccaren pointed out.

Make all the buyable things cosmetic.

Have different versions of units and buildings, make them look cooler like the preorder thor, do what TF2 did basically.

Not G. Ivingname:
Do what TF2 did basically.

Next thing you see is a screen full of Zerglings with hats...

Seems like an odd thing to do, especially for an RTS.

Aeshi:
Seems like an odd thing to do, especially for an RTS.

But Starcraft is unique. There is not a single other popular e-sports RTS apart from Starcraft 1, and Starcraft 2 also has the distinction of being the biggest e-sport, having the potential domination of an entire country and probably nowdays, more people watching the game than playing the game.

I think in some ways it will have to go free to play, after the last expansion there will be no people playing multiplayer on the lowest level, and whilst lots of people watch SC who don't play it, there are just too many e-sports today to survive unless you've got a strong player base who're naturally going to be interested in watching competitive play 'That guy could be me' is an awfully powerful dream

EDIT: Although by the time they release the Legacy of the Void, the game might be old enough to think to lay to rest pretty soon

Sooo... I can have a Zerg rush with top hats?
Really, I think this is going to be difficult to monetize for them, even more in a way the players like as well.

There are two ways to do this, as already been posted.

1: Ad support (With an option to buyout)
2: Cosmetic upgrades

Personally, my vote is for ad support. My problem with Cosmetic options is that they tend to ruin the aesthetic of a game and hurt the need to emphasize a cohesive aesthetic design. But to each their own. Either or both would work.

Well TBH, I'd like to pick up SC2, but I don't have 33 spare to spend on a 2-year-old game. Sort your pricing out, Blizzard, especially through your own site, and then we'll talk about looking after E-sports, okay?
Same time, if they did make it F2P, that'd be cool + while my to-do list would hate me, I can see a lot of time been sunk into this.

Meh, I really do want to get Starcraft 2 since its the only big e-sport I haven't played to a point where I was competent, but I don't really want to give Blizzard money.

So maybe F2P could fix that? Depends. I wouldn't play it if there were unskippable ads before each match, that is too much for me.

Free-to-play and RTS doesn't really mix. If you want an example, see Company of Heroes Online.

Isnt there already a bit of F2P in SC2 already? Like some of the maps can be played vs matches with the trial accounts.

One easy solution here...
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The problem is pricing. Blizzard are still charging upwards of 30 for Warcraft 3 on their website, for goodness sake. I am NOT paying that for such an old game. I've looked at buying it, but that put me off. Starcraft II is the same. Any other game would have reduced in price by now, but Blizzard just won't.

Fair enough, but if I didn't have enough interest to buy it when it's new for full price, why would I have enough interest several years later?

If it means a lower price for the single player then i'm all for it as I don't play the multiplayer.

Overall, there are three ways I see this being work.
First the micropayment with non-gameplay elements like skins, maybe avatars and similar stuff.
Second would be ad-based version. That would make the game entirely free.

Third would be to buy access. Having a basic version entirely free, where you can play only with people having the basic free version, but you can buy access to the stand-alone-addon and its units and play with people having those.
It would, in the end, create three to four groups:
1 - Free to Play Only
2 - Original Starcraft 2
3 - HotS Starcraft 2
4 - LotV Starcraft 2

1 and 2 might be the same list, even.
Of course, that would require the game to become compatible with the other versions, which might not be easy to do, maybe even downright impossible.
Also, the question is what about people, who bought the retails? Well, that they gain access to their own, respective list is obvious, maybe even too all lists.
And if they combine this with the first "selling skins", then maybe a retailer gets also 1/3 of all skins (owning all three would give you all skins avaible, obviously. Maybe depending on the game, you get skins for a specific faction.)

Well, I didn't think that through entirely, but the idea itself sounds great regardless.

What a waste of my 40 quid then.

Also:

Naeras:
Free-to-play and RTS doesn't really mix. If you want an example, see Company of Heroes Online.

Opinion about idea x; almost entirely different example than idea x.

Well it's not like Terrans/Protoss don't only use like half the available units right now or anything.....

JaceArveduin:
Yeah... there's a difference between not owning all the champs in league, and not having all of your units in a true RTS.

It's Acti-Blizz. The fact they even had to mention that "only having access to half the units unless you paid" might be a bad idea shows just how little they understand how F2P should, or would, work for the game.

Though, I will laugh when the change, if it does ever, happen. Because we will be seeing Starcraft much less than we already do now. A game bought mostly for its online play going F2P is going to leave a scant few to pony up for the single player. Which means the price for it is likely not going to drop either.

I have never tried Starcraft, I count myself as a casual RTS fan but have never played it.

I guess I may try it if it goes F2P since I hear so much about it but the multiplayer doesn't look too fun......I may not even bother trying it, I don't really want to get a Blizzard game, they are a pretty crappy publisher right now.

Does anyone think the move to F2P will bring more people in? I can't see it as more than them hoping to monetize the game further.

if they want to lower the barrier to entry they could try loweing the price a bit more, no reason SC2 should be as expensive as it is now.

Meh as someone who hates people I never cared about the VS aspect of Starcraft anyways as long as the single player missions are as good as they were in the terran campaign I don't care what else they do.

Lectori Salutem:
Sooo... I can have a Zerg rush with top hats?
Really, I think this is going to be difficult to monetize for them, even more in a way the players like as well.

This post is silly, everyone knows zerglings wear sombreros....

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
Meh, I really do want to get Starcraft 2 since its the only big e-sport I haven't played to a point where I was competent, but I don't really want to give Blizzard money.

So maybe F2P could fix that? Depends. I wouldn't play it if there were unskippable ads before each match, that is too much for me.

I am guessing that they will monetize this the wya they originally planned. Letting people develop quality maps, and then sell them through the Battle.net. Allowing for budding developers to make projects they can sell for a dollar while providing content to Blizzard building the fanbase (valves model really).

Maybe that or streaming tourneys for a fee.

I haven't touch SC2 multiplayer for months, I only occasionally go in to play a game of desert strike. No amount of free to play is going to get me back to their multiplayer.

Starcraft 2, will soon become Starhat 2, I predict.
A repeat of TF2, I predict, maybe. Though, after sifting through the comments, we're going to get ads. Easy, quick, clever, fast, un-harmful.

Haven't they done a Warcraft 2: Battle.net Edition? Why not make a Starcraft 2: Battle.net Edition? Save a lot of headaches, honestly. Make it about $15-25 USD.

Wait wait wait...I haven't played SC II since I've got a beef with Blizzard. Does this mean that it's multiplayer is current subscription based? Or is this applying only to entrance fees for tournaments and stuff? I is confused...

If it really is currently subscription-based to play the multiplayer, it's just further evidence for my folder that they just wanted to milk this game for as much money as they possibly could.

As someone who didn't buy SC2, I can't help but think this is somewhat of a slap in the face to the people who already bought the game. I know several of my friends bought the game primarily for its multiplayer, and now Blizzard is seriously considering allowing someone like me to play the game without buying it? Sounds kind of like they got screwed out of their money, to me.

But I'm curious what some of you folks who own a copy of SC2 think about this. Does it bother you that people who didn't buy the game yet might end up being able to play the game without paying $60+ to get it in stores?

RJ 17:
Wait wait wait...I haven't played SC II since I've got a beef with Blizzard. Does this mean that it's multiplayer is current subscription based? Or is this applying only to entrance fees for tournaments and stuff? I is confused...

If it really is currently subscription-based to play the multiplayer, it's just further evidence for my folder that they just wanted to milk this game for as much money as they possibly could.

I'm not sure how you garnered that Idea from the OP...

No, but to play the game you have to buy it, which means it isn't free to play or F2P.

they are thinking of rebuilding the multiplayer component into a F2P model to encourage growth in it as an esport.

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