Tobold's Blog
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Blizzcon announcement: Starcraft II will be episodic

While an anonymous poster and Zarkil were the first to guess that Mike Morhaime only announced a new Diablo III class, the Wizard (how original), the real news came somewhat later at the Blizzcon 2008: Starcraft II will not be one game, but three. You can buy the main campaign for the three races as separate packages. Is that a cheap money-tripling scheme from Blizzard or a useful service? Discuss!
The Fonz may have just jumped the shark.

Sounds a bit greedy to me. We're talking about an RTS here right? How complex could it be that it "Needs" to be bundled into 3 separate pieces?
Depends on the price obviously. If you just want a one month break from your favorite MMO - why not pay 12.99 for a StarcraftII episode ?

Does Blizzard realize that single-player games are not competitive with MMOs given their price point of arount $50 compared to ยง12-$15 per month (not including a yearly expansion, but that would be something like $4/month more) ?
Bad journalism Tobold, but forgivable since it's just a quick note.

"The campaigns are planned as concentrated, epic storylines, with enough content to justify a full release. As a result, the games will now feature more in-game cinematics and story content.

Pardo noted that the decision was necessary to maintain the quality of the product, the alternatives either being a long delay of the game, or a scaling back of the campaigns."

It's not a service/convenience etc. It's just that the game grew too big.
I fail to how that could be an useful service to the customer, unless they sell each of the campaigns at 1/3 the price of a full game (or less ;)). In that case gamers can buy one part to see if they like the game.

This would be a bit better than a demo because a full campaign showcases all aspects of the game instead of an overly polished first chapter.

Having to buy only one campaign might also appeal to people who only want to play online against other players and are not interested in solo play. This will only work if you can play all three races even if you just have one single-player part of the game.

However, this is SC II, successor to the biggest RTS ever. While the price may not be triple the normal price, I very much doubt that Blizz will pass the chance to get all the money they can from a huge and devoted fan base.
If this allows blizzard to make more starcraft 2 and continue giving the attention and love to the game that it deserves I say, bring it on.
Money grab!
All depends on price.
If all episodes form equivalent of a full title as we are used to know and the sum of single episodes price is the same... in that case is a good news as someone could eventually decide to spend less for less content.

In reality I doubt it and more probably a single episode will have less or will cost more. Still can be interesting if a single episode cost little more and at same time there is an offer to grab them all for usual price.

Also could be interesting to know if episodes will be sold eletronically like a monthly fee of an mmorpg.
In such case it could be that blizzard from one side want to keep a foot in the retail market shoe but at same time want to grab the money (what is possible) from direct billing as is more profitable. Once you buy SC2 from a shelf (and shelf gives visibility) and you buy even because it does cost less... after that you are eventually connected to blizzard, you have the product, you registered it, you played in ... so now you are more eager to use your credit card to buy an new episode instead of going in a shop. You already know product and company.
Methinks Blizzard have seen what THQ/Relic did with GW's Dawn of War, and want some of that long-term publicity/revenue goodness.

DoW's three expansions brought with them substantial campaign improvements, game mechanic updates - who remembers the original infiltration mechanic?), balance changes and, key of all, two additional armies from GW's 40K IP.

Result? A constant stream of midi-purchases through the life of the product.

DoW2 only contains a Space Marine campaign mode, so Relic say. How... coincidental. ;)
It remains to be seen how it will play out but episodic games are one strategy for producing high quality content in an age where higher fidelity experiences demand longer development cycles. I would much rather Blizzard have free reign to develop the kind of campaign they originally envisioned, on a timescale that allows for the game to be published before 2012, then to see them cut it down for release and then try and build upon it with "expansions." The two strategies may look similar to the consumer but Blizzard's current plan seems to preserve more of their grand vision and polish, and for now I fully support it.
Kotaku got the explanation of the very poorly phrased SC II announcement. They are NOT splitting up the races Guild Wars style - all three races will be in the multiplayer game from day one. All they're doing is confirming that there will be (at least) TWO expansion packs to the game, and that each of the three releases (original game and two expansions) will contain one triple-length campaign for a single race instead of three regular campaigns (one for each race).

Blizzard PR really dropped the ball on this one. It's bad news when all the major gaming news outlets get the idea that the game is going episodic when it's not.
I can understand this move if they are creating sufficient game play content to back it up. I still think it's a shameless grab for cash and a case study in bloat. It's no wonder that budgets for games are stupid.

As a consumer, I might get one of them if it's full price... but I'm more likely to wait and get them on sale some months down the road. If there's DRM or the like preventing secondary sales, I'll be most unhappy.
Remember this isn't Blizzard anymore. It's Activision-Vivendi who are using the trusted Blizzard name.

While Blizzard the studio will still make great quality games, Activison the publisher will get greedy and find ways to rush products to the shelves and charge more for less. It's all about maximizing quarterly profits, not delivering the best gaming experience.

While I'm glad that I won't have to wait another year to play 1/3rd of SC2, I'm worried the SC2 experience as a whole won't be as cohesive.
It definitely reads like it's a money grab.

Something tells me that we'll end up paying for it anyway. Did anyone not buy the expansion packs for the original Starcraft?

I suppose I'll choose to look at it like this: It's still cheaper in entertainment per hour than just about any other hobby of mine.
"[The second and third games] will be like expansion packs, but we really want them to feel like standalone products," said Blizzard's Rob Pardo.

Is he saying you must have the first SC-II installed to play the alleged "standalone products" which are actually "expansion packs"?

Sounds like a Money Grab to me.
Sure this is a money grab. But it's also about the content and quality of the game. And the latter justifies the former. Blizzard sees this as the best of both worlds. I see it that way too, because if I can get more from my StarCraft II experience, then I'm a happy camper. And I'd be willing to pay for it too. I loved the original, and from the little I'm hearing about it now, this should be even better.

My source of information is three articles on IGN:
It's Blizzard, so first and foremost it's a money grab. They're a company in the business of making money though, so as long as we, the consumers, get sufficient content to justify the money we spend we shouldn't cry too much.

As others have said, it's all going to come down to the pricing whether this is acceptable to consumers or another Spore DRM fiasco. If they are in fact following the Dawn of War structure where the initial game is fully fledged and functional for skirmish and multiplayer, but only has a campaign for a single race, and is followed up by 'standalone' expansions that are fully fledged and functional for skirmish and multiplayer, but only has a campaign for a different race and expands on the original game, I think it's fine.

If you pay full price for a game missing core features and content (say you can't play as the Tyranids, err sorry, Zerg at all) and then have to pay MORE to add those features and content in at a later date, then screw you Blizzard.

Also, the "we have to do this or we'd have to delay the game" excuse is pretty lame. Since when did Blizzard care about delaying games? They ALWAYS delay their games, it's one of the hallmarks of a Blizzard product. It's not as if they're lacking the funds to continue development :p
I am amazed at the gamers of the world that expect groundbreaking game play and an ever evolving genre of games yet still want, expect, and demand to pay the same $50 for the games that they were paying 15 years ago.
@centuri I disagree with what you said. When they made those ten year old games, they were ground-breaking then, and they had to do it from scratch. You paid for that work.

They're doing a game from scratch today and it would be expected that people wouldn't have to pay three times as much because they decide that the game is to be split into three separate parts.
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