Blizzard Blames Battle.net, Pushes Starcraft 2 Back Into 2010

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News Posted: Thu, Aug 6 2009 5:17 PM
Gamers who've been salivating at the chance to slaughter zerglings (or each other) like it's 1998 are going to have to wait a little longer. Blizzard Entertainment announced today that the first Starcraft 2 campaign—the Terran-centric Wings of Liberty will not be ready by the end of 2009. The culprit, according to company PR, is Battle.net. The company's release is quoted below.

"...it has become clear that it will take longer than expected to prepare the new Battle.net for the launch of the game. The upgraded Battle.net is an integral part of the StarCraft II experience and will be an essential part of all of our games moving forward. This extra development time will be critical to help us realize our vision for the service."

Ironically, Battle.Net has already been a sore spot for Starcraft 2, given Blizzard's controversial decision to develop the game without LAN support. Blizzard employee Bob Colayco stated at the time that the decision to yank LAN support was "the best option to ensure a quality multiplayer experience with StarCraft II and safeguard against piracy."

Not pictured:  Pirates

Starcraft 2 is virtually guaranteed to be a smash hit, but it's hard not to feel as though the wind is changing. Back in November of 2008, Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick unabashedly declared his intent to monetize every last cent of valuable IP, even if he had to drive the game franchise into the ground to do it. Asked by MTV Multiplayer why Blizzard had dropped several games in the wake of its Activision merger, Kotick responded that the titles in question:

"don't have the potential to be exploited every year on every platform with clear sequel potential and have the potential to become $100 million dollar franchises. ... I think, generally, our strategy has been to focus... on the products that have those attributes and characteristics, the products that we know [that] if we release them today, we'll be working on them 10 years from now."

In less than a year, we've seen Blizzard introduce paid character customization to WoW ($15), announce paid faction changes (not yet implemented, presumedly at least $15), and declare that Starcraft 2 will be released as a series of three episodes rather than as a unified whole. How fair of a deal this turns out to be depends on what price tag Blizzard attaches to each episode, but it'd be surprising if the company came in below $39.99 and $49.99 is my personal bet.

In the new, Activision-powered future, it appears that you can customize a character, switch factions, or buy Starcraft 2 one slice at a time—provided, of course, that you don't want to play the former over a LAN. Does anyone else find it ironic that four years after the company launched its license to print money, it's removing functionality end-users have come to expect? I'm all for stopping pirates and ensuring that artists/content creators receive their due, but attempting to jam a feature rip down the throats of gamers and cloaking it in blatant half-truth regarding the multiplayer experience smacks of a company that doesn't have the guts to admit its newfound greed.
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5ylver replied on Fri, Aug 7 2009 3:46 AM

The push back sucks, but for anyone waiting for this game, this probably is not a suprise to them.

But not including LAN support? wtf?

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Maybe to stop the pirates from using Hamachi to play, but that again just really hurts honest people, because I'm sure they will hack around it.

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Aug 7 2009 8:19 AM

Oh well... at least it won't be one of those fiascoes where the servers get crushed on opening day because "We did not anticipate the load (though we knew how many copies we shipped)".

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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Joel H replied on Fri, Aug 7 2009 1:08 PM

3vi1,

Bet you $5 that we do. Even if the Battle.net servers themselves are rock-solid, the game authentication servers are going to choke on the number of validation requests pouring in. Thing is, it's hard to simulate a load of several hundred thousand people all simultaneously trying to authenticate from all around the country.

The reason Blizzard probably won't be adequately provisioned for that is because that sort of one-time crush is just that--a one-time crush. Even though I expect the whole schebang to fall apart at least once, make no mistake. I *hope* you're right.

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I've been following the SC2 situation rather closely for months, and Blizzard really screwed up with Battlenet 2.0.  That is to say, the programmers are seriously struggling to get it to where they want it.  They started work on it too late, and assumed it would be hassle free.  They STILL have Battlenet lead programmer for hire ads on their main site.  I except first half of 2010 to certainly mean Q2 for sure.

Hello

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Aug 7 2009 3:45 PM

Don't worry Joel, not everyone will be trying to authenticate at once:

Tens of thousands of pirates will be logging in at least a week before the official release date.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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Joel H replied on Fri, Aug 7 2009 8:51 PM

You can't login if the servers don't authenticate you first. Don't mistake Battle.net authentication at logon for actual CD code authentication. I suspect Blizzard will log all shipped CD codes and validate against that list. It's been the typical MO for a long time.

Pirates will undoubtedly get single-player working, but Battle.net support is a tougher nut to crack.

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I'm not a big RTS fan, so StarCraft's pushback doesn't affect me much. But I can well remember the bottleneck that was caused by World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King expansion (and to a lesser extent Burning Crusade).

For a company with the most popular MMORPG on the market, and long-life fan-favorite products other than that, Blizzard needs to improve its network infrastructure. Perhaps if they rented server space on launch day it would help.


"I didn't cry when Bambi's mother was shot... but I cried when HAL was turned off."

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Well, this doesn't surprise me.  I don't expect these games to be released, I say these because I'm also referring to D3.  I loved both games and blizzard is starting to bug me.  I feel like they are losing their edge.  I still can't get over how lame the multiplayer will be until all the races are released.  Terran vs. Terran...but I always play Zerg.

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The first version of the game will have all 3 races available for multiplayer.  Later versions will just add single player and new unit(s) for all races in multiplayer.

Hello

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Joel H replied on Sun, Aug 9 2009 4:26 PM

Cris,

I know. A lot of this comes down to pricing structure. If the first game delivers multiplayer and the second and third are simply single-player + a few extra units (that may or may not be made available in multiplayer to those who only own the first version), will #2 and #3 cost less?

At a guess, I'm thinking the new units *will* transfer into multiplayer. Otherwise Blizz ends up with a highly fragmented system by the time all three packs are out. An analogy to WoW would be that while people who don't buy the expansion can't access the new content, they are still able to take advantage of talent changes, new gear introduced for lvl 70 (lvl 80 in the future) and new crafting patterns, alchemy recipes, and all the like. If Blizz adds a talent like Spiritual Attunement (introduced in TBC) with a rank that you buy in Classic WoW, players gained that, too.

I think it's fair to draw the analogy that in this case, the various changes WoW players who don't buy the expansion are able to take advantage of will be equivalent to the new units and such. Of course that might not happen, but I'm thinking it will.

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