Good news from the Activision-Blizzard Q3 investor call: StarCraft II is still on track for the first half of 2010 ... for now.
During Activision-Blizzard's quarterly financial conference call with stockholders, Blizzard's big boss and founder Mike Morhaime said that the company's eagerly-anticipated StarCraft II was on schedule to meet the targeted release date of "sometime in the first half of next year," and had in fact not been delayed again.
Though development of the game is largely complete (or at least it felt that way when I kicked Keane Ng's ass and tried out the Terran campaign at BlizzCon), the development team has been using the delay due to the complexities of Battle.net 2.0 to refine the game's balance and to polish everything up. Morhaime also said that he believed the game would be a blockbuster hit, seeing as how the first StarCraft has sold over 11 million copies worldwide, but let's be honest here: If you didn't think SC2 would be wildly successful without having to be told that by the Blizzard overlord, then you need to get your head checked.
I'm sure SC2 will tear up the charts when it comes out. I'm less sure that it'll be out when they say it will be - after all, the game was "on track" for a 2009 release too, until Blizzard delayed it. Fool me once, Blizzard: I'll believe it when I'm playing the beta with my own two hands.
In other Blizzard news: There will be a significant update to World of Warcraft "within the next few weeks," adding new maps and dungeons. This is almost certainly Patch 3.3, which is in the public testing phase right now, and which will bring players face to face with the Lich King himself in Icecrown Citadel.
Morhaime also addressed the hot-button issue of the recently-announced WoW Pet Store, saying that while the company was open to the idea of selling items and goodies that would be for simple vanity's sake to enhance the player experience, Blizzard was adamant that it would never sell items for real-world money that would affect the in-game balance - which means no actual equipment.
"All value added services are not required, as they are optional only nor will they adversely impact the experience should customers decide not to participate or purchase them ... we also expect digital sales to increase in the future, and plan to take advantage of it."
Sounds fine to me. At least I know I'll be able to buy some more pets on the in-game store while I wait for StarCraft II to finally come out in 2011.