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Blizzard Considering StarCraft 2 Multiplayer as Free-to-Play

By - Source: PCGamesN | B 29 comments

The multiplayer portion of Blizzard's StarCraft II may go free-to-play if Blizzard figures out the financial aspect.

Seemingly thanks to Facebook and Zynga, the PC gaming scene here in the States has been reinvigorated due to the popular free-to-play model. Typically the base game is free, and players have the option of purchasing in-game goods like virtual currency, items, or additional "premium" areas offered to subscribers by using real-world cash. Many popular MMOGs have taken this route including EverQuest and EverQuest 2, Star Trek Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online and more.

But does this model actually work? "It has been a very healthy development for both games if for no other reason than the influx of new players," said Star Trek Online executive producer Dan Stahl in a recent interview. "This is one of the encouraging aspects of free-to-play because it shows that there are people who want to play the game that simply couldn’t afford it at the existing price point. In today’s economy, free-to-play makes sense to consumers looking for options on how to spend their time and money."

As it stands now, Blizzard's approach to the model has been in the way of "demos" offered through Diablo 3, StarCraft 2 and World of Warcraft. The company thus has stood by the typical full game sales model, pushing customers into shelling out $50 or more for their games. But Blizzard has always driven itself to make that investment worthwhile for the end-user, packing in features that will extend the replayability for seemingly years – the recently-released Diablo 3 is a perfect example.

Still, as Stahl states, there's that class of consumer with doesn't take the plunge due to cost, and Blizzard does recognize this. But up until now, free-to-play really hasn't been in the cards, and Blizzard has openly rejected the idea of World of Warcraft heading in that direction. But what about StarCraft 2? That may be a different story altogether.

During a panel about eSports at the Valencia eSports Congress, StarCraft 2 lead designer Dustin Browder hinted that Blizzrd's popular sci-fi RTS may take on a free-to-play model at least in the multiplayer department. The current Starter Edition merely offers the first four single-player missions, the first two challenges, access to the terran race in Custom Games and Single-Player vs. AI, and access to four custom maps.

Browder stated that Blizzard is "looking at free to play as an option for the multiplayer." Currently StarCraft 2 stands alone as a fully-priced product amongst eSports titles like League of Legends and DOTA 2 – even Counter-Strike: Global Offensive comes with a reduced price. Open up Blizzard's RTS to free-to-play gamers, and not only will you have potential customers, but more players in the pro eSports scene.

"We don’t know how we would monetize it," he admitted. "While it might be good fun for me to play against someone with only half the units available to them, that’s not going to be an enjoyable experience for them."

DigitalTrends points out that Diablo 3 sold 3.5 million copies the first day it was on sale in May 2012, and an additional 1.2 World of Warcraft subscribers downloaded the game as well – that's reportedly more than Diablo 2 told during its first full year on store shelves. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm sold 3.3 million copies in 24 hours, but StarCraft 2 only sold 1.5 million copies in its first 48 hours – an additional 1.5 million gamers purchased the RTS over the next three months (2010).

Point is, StarCraft 2 sales weren't at the levels of Cataclysm and Diablo 3, and two more StarCraft 2 titles are on the way. By making the multiplayer aspect free-to-play, this model could propel its profitability to Diablo 3/Cataclysm levels by allowing customers to perhaps purchase the single-player campaign, traditional maps, units and whatnot.

 

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  • 24 Hide
    frombehind , September 25, 2012 12:17 AM
    Yea whatever. How bout fix it so there is LAN play again and Don't require internet connection for single player. Then we will talk.
  • 23 Hide
    iknowhowtofixit , September 25, 2012 12:17 AM
    Blizzard also considering a line of personal lubricants for Diablo 3 customers
  • 22 Hide
    spasmolytic46 , September 25, 2012 1:17 AM
    Quote:
    packing in features that will extend the replayability for seemingly years – the recently-released Diablo 3 is a perfect example.


    Say what?

    Let's be honest here. The influence and success of WOW killed Starcraft II and Diablo III. Once upon a time Blizzard was great, but not anymore and not for a long time.
Other Comments
  • 23 Hide
    iknowhowtofixit , September 25, 2012 12:17 AM
    Blizzard also considering a line of personal lubricants for Diablo 3 customers
  • 24 Hide
    frombehind , September 25, 2012 12:17 AM
    Yea whatever. How bout fix it so there is LAN play again and Don't require internet connection for single player. Then we will talk.
  • -5 Hide
    A Bad Day , September 25, 2012 12:28 AM
    Small non-offending advertisements at the loading screens would pay for F2P a bit.

    Maybe one purchasable perk are hats for the 'premium' player's units.

    *Obviously not a reference to Hat Fortress 2, OBVIOUSLY*
  • 7 Hide
    uglynerdman , September 25, 2012 12:30 AM
    i probably wont see it till 2016 but im waiting for the starcraft 2 battle chest. i just want to play the campaigns but not pay 50 bucks for each one. I dont play multiplayer anymore, i used to hang out at a pcbang with a bunch of koreans, days would pass by... not gonna go through that again.
  • -5 Hide
    nforce4max , September 25, 2012 1:00 AM
    uglynerdmani probably wont see it till 2016 but im waiting for the starcraft 2 battle chest. i just want to play the campaigns but not pay 50 bucks for each one. I dont play multiplayer anymore, i used to hang out at a pcbang with a bunch of koreans, days would pass by... not gonna go through that again.


    wow
  • 9 Hide
    dissbelief , September 25, 2012 1:05 AM
    Maybe they will give out refunds for D3 as well....
  • 22 Hide
    spasmolytic46 , September 25, 2012 1:17 AM
    Quote:
    packing in features that will extend the replayability for seemingly years – the recently-released Diablo 3 is a perfect example.


    Say what?

    Let's be honest here. The influence and success of WOW killed Starcraft II and Diablo III. Once upon a time Blizzard was great, but not anymore and not for a long time.
  • 2 Hide
    innocent bystander , September 25, 2012 1:37 AM
    Not a bad idea from a business perspective. If there is one audience that's ripe for a massive round of nickle and diming it's SCII players. Especially ones who like to compete.

    Good luck with keeping the system balanced with an F2P model though. They had enough problems getting it working as it is.

    IB
  • 3 Hide
    cmcghee358 , September 25, 2012 1:52 AM
    I'm kind of confused.

    I purchased SC2. I went online. I never paid anything to go online. Was I supposed to? Was that a trial? Did it change recently?
  • 0 Hide
    tinmann , September 25, 2012 3:09 AM
    Why doesn't Blizzard consider finishing the other two installments of Starcraft 2 before they do anything. Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty was released July 27, 2010, over 2 years now and no Zerg or Protoss expansions. I'm glad I didn't spend my money on this one. Starcraft was great but the second one just didn't bring enough new to the table for $$60 USD.
  • 0 Hide
    Benihana , September 25, 2012 4:26 AM
    F2P multiplayer, eh? Sounds like you'll have a cheating problem then. Like in TF2.
  • 5 Hide
    tomfreak , September 25, 2012 4:57 AM
    Tomshardware Blizzard has always driven itself to make that investment worthwhile for the end-user, packing in features that will extend the replayability for seemingly years – the recently-released Diablo 3 is a perfect example.
    Sat what? re-playability in D3? LOL!
  • -1 Hide
    nazgron , September 25, 2012 5:54 AM
    [quote=Tomshardware]Blizzard has always driven itself to make that investment worthwhile for the end-user, packing in features that will extend the replayability for seemingly years – the recently-released Diablo 3 is a perfect example.[/quote]
    You mean...the same Azmodan run for seemingly years?
  • -1 Hide
    pomop , September 25, 2012 6:03 AM
    cmcghee358I'm kind of confused.I purchased SC2. I went online. I never paid anything to go online. Was I supposed to? Was that a trial? Did it change recently?

    They're talking about the multiplayer simply being free. As in you won't have to buy Heart of the swarm to play the online component of the game. In order to play the campaign, you would have to purchase the game.
  • 0 Hide
    rdc85 , September 25, 2012 6:12 AM
    ..they fend off people by deactivating LAN play, kill competitive tournament.... (In my country where the infrastructure is bad, LAN is a place we can practice and having good time)

    Sorry, but this doesn't appeal for me.........
  • -1 Hide
    cats_Paw , September 25, 2012 7:04 AM
    They did say before sc2 went out that "expansions" will not be required to play online these "expansions", just for the campaign... I wonder what kinda bullshit they are trying to do with that statement now :D .
  • -1 Hide
    Herr_Koos , September 25, 2012 7:22 AM
    Probably flogging a dead horse here, but this puts an interesting spin on EA's decision to go F2P with Command & Conquer, doesn't it?
  • -1 Hide
    teodoreh , September 25, 2012 7:37 AM
    Maybe they want to promote eSports since the #1 problem was that DRM didn't allowed local LAN play. I think they just want to give free the Wings Of Liberty campaign so people will buy the two expansions, Heart of the Swarm coming soon and Legacy of the Void coming on 2 years or more..
  • -1 Hide
    sieged , September 25, 2012 11:04 AM
    Come On Trolls! Get over the no Lan Play!! Blizzad will not bring it back ..get over it and move on. If you can't afford internet to play and you don't want to pay $50 bucks for the game ...then we know your not interested for free-to-play.
  • -1 Hide
    manicmike , September 25, 2012 1:03 PM
    Is SC 2 online a pay by the month for online, or is it like adding an option to a new car, pay once and have it forever? Still a stupid idea regardless, but... Seriously, what happened to the Blizz that made SC and the ORIGINAL WoW (not whatever the hell it's morphed into now)?

    EDIT: OOOOOOH So you mean if I buy SC Terran Game I can only play online as Terran? This is why I stopped playing Blizzard's games... I try to apply this magical thing called "logic" to them and it doesn't work so I get mad.
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