Here’s the reason why StarCraft II was delayed to 2010 – Blizzard wants to roll the game out alongside its brand-new upgraded Battle.net, which will reportedly be “similar to Xbox Live.”
Predictably, yesterday’s announcement that the long-awaited StarCraft II would be delayed resulted in much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The good news, though, is that according to the official press release, the delay seems to not be related to SC2 itself, but to its close relationship to the under-construction Battle.net. In the Activision-Blizzard Q2 Earnings conference call, Blizzard founder and president Mike Morhaime explained the situation:
The new version of Battlenet is being integrated with Starcraft 2 more tightly than in any previous Blizzard game. Over the past few weeks, it has become clear that it will take longer than expected to prepare the new Battlenet for the launch of Starcraft 2. This means, as [Acti-Blizz CEO Bobby Kotick] mentioned, that we will not be ready to launch Starcraft 2 in 2009. We recognize that we only get one chance to make a first impression. It’s much easier to retain a player that has a great initial experience than to bring them back after a mediocre one.
While we could rush into beta and launch an inferior game and service experience this year, fixing that experience over time, our track record has proven that there is a far greater value for us and for our players in making sure that the experience is great right from the start.
“A true online destination platform, Battle.net will become the foundation for connecting the tens of millions of members of the Blizzard community in a social gaming network across all Blizzard’s future games,” added Kotick. “To put Battle.net into context, it will be a service similar to Xbox Live and it will leverage the technologies, infrastructure, and expertise that Blizzard has developed over the last decade in multiplayer play and social networking.” And, Kotick continued, there would be no better time to launch the new service than alongside the hugely anticipated SC2.
While Kotick’s comparison of the new Battle.net to Microsoft’s Xbox Live service is sure to have doomsayers running for the hills shouting about subscription costs despite evidence to the contrary, Blizzard’s Morhaime elaborated that “[T]he next generation of Battle.net will add social networking features, cross-game-communication, unified login and account management, and more … allowing them to connect, communicate, and share experiences with each other through the service regardless of which Blizzard game [they’re playing].”
In other words, it’ll be more like Xbox Live Silver – see your friends no matter what game they’re in, chat with a D3 ladder-climbing buddy while you’re in a game of WarCraft 3: DotA, so on and so forth – than Xbox Live Gold.
In other interesting news, it looks like Blizzard is officially referring to the Zerg and Protoss installments of SC2 as expansions now. To quote Morhaime, “Once we release Starcraft 2 next year, we will move immediately on to the first of two expansions.”
The full transcription of the Activision-Blizzard Conference Call is available at Seeking Alpha.
(Via Edge Online)