With the buzz fading from the green that World of Warcraft’s launch, first expansion, and reoccurring monthly fees brought in, Blizzard Entertainment announced Starcraft II in May of 2007. Being one of the most highly anticipated PC games of all time, the announcement was (unsurprisingly) met with widespread praise throughout the gaming community.
While Starcraft II’s unveiling came as a relief to fans worldwide, there were still a number of questions to be answered. What new features will the sequel have? Which units from the original game will be included? When will it hit the shelves?
There was one question, however, that (for the most part) went unasked. How much will it cost?
One Game, Three Installments
Much to the dismay of the community, Rob Pardo, Blizzard’s Vice President of Game Design, gave us some insight into how much the game would actually cost in June of 2008. Pardo revealed that the game would be broken up into three separate installments, the first of which being Wings of Liberty. Expected to hit stores this summer, Wings of Liberty, unlike the original Starcraft, will not include a single-player campaign for each of the three races. Instead, it will feature only the Terran campaign. The subsequent installments, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void, will introduce the Zerg and Protoss campaigns.
One Game, Three Purchases
Blizzard has reassured gamers that each installment will be a full game in and of itself, and has slapped a $60 price tag on Wings of Liberty based on this promise. Call me crazy, but this leads me to believe that each of the installments to follow will come with a price tag of at least $60. Add it up, and you’ll find that in order to experience Starcraft II as a whole, you’ll be forced to pay a minimum of $180. Keep in mind that this estimate doesn’t include the sales tax or shipping costs you may be required to pay.
But Wait… There’s More!
If, for some reason, you decide to purchase the collector’s edition, Wings of Liberty will set you back $100. Again, multiply that by three and you’ll come to a grand total of at least $300 spent on Starcraft II. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty Collector’s Edition includes an oversized art book, a 2GB flash drive, a soundtrack you’ll never listen to, and an assortment of other junk you’ll never use. Unless you’re willing to take out a second mortgage on your house, I’d recommend steering clear of the constant upsells Blizzard is pushing on you.
Don’t Put Away Your Wallet Just Yet
Say you do avoid the collector’s edition and just stick to buying the three regular installments of Starcraft II at the “reasonable” base price of $180, you’re set, right? Wrong. Blizzard is also rolling out premium maps to compliment the game. Although they have yet to reveal exactly how much these premium maps will cost, a reasonable assumption would be anywhere from $3 – $10 a pop. Would you expect anything less from a company that sells World of Warcraft in-game pets for real world cash?
Will Starcraft II’s Value Justify Its Cost?
Though Blizzard promises that each of the installments will be the equivalent of a full game, I’m slightly skeptical. It’s hard to believe that the developers were unable to condense the campaigns into one release, and that the decision to issue the game in installments was made with the player’s best interest in mind. Given the hefty price tag, it’s obvious that this strategy is being used to increase sales and profits.
A large portion of Starcraft II players will not be purchasing the game to play the campaigns, but instead, to play with other gamers on the newly revamped Battle.net. These players will see new units added with each installment that will be useable in multi-player. For these players, will the addition of a couple of new units per race really justify a $60 fee? I doubt it. Will people purchase the new installments anyway? Probably.
Big Shoes To Fill
Setting the absurd cost of owning the various installments of Starcraft II aside, the game has some big shoes to fill. The original Starcraft was one of the most popular PC games in history, and still has a large following to date. If Blizzard expects anyone to shell out hundreds of dollars in order to play the sequel to Starcraft, they better deliver a top notch game. Unless they live up to the hype that they have created, the installments following Wings of Liberty are doomed to fail.