Blizzard Entertainment is known for making some of the best games our generation grew up with – Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo. Arguably, they’ve ruined each and every single one of them based on their methods of trying to make money when Activision took over the original Blizzard Entertainment team.
Starcraft was insanely popular in Korea, and still remains popular in that country. Despite this, players around the world have seemed to learn that the core mechanics the game is based off of. They have also taken some of the most popular units out of the game, such as the Lurker, and replaced them with other units that are far less effective.
The reason why Starcraft is so popular is because of the epic storyline that they’ve sold to their players, but for players who enjoy the experience of climbing up the ladder (like myself), if the core mechanics are broken, why would I play it? Alternatively, if a certain race is overpowered, why would I play it? The answer is simple – I wouldn’t.
Back in the SC:BW days, Zerg was arguably the most overpowered race, but it still lasted in the RTS scene for a decade. There’s lots of reasons that this happened. First of all, there were no other RTS games that gained as much traction as Brood War did. Second, the “fun factor” was the highest it ever was for that decade. Third, the game had very strong core mechanics of how the game worked.
Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty made it’s debut and the gameplay was really good. It captured the same audience and drove the same hype as “the epic remake that was long overdue”. After the game’s release, Blizzard kept on patching and nerfing everything. Despite players like Idra creating traction for the game for being “bm” (bad mannered) and having an interesting personality overall, there still was a decline in players. When Blizzard kept on nerfing and changing everything, it ruined the original foundation that the game was created on – and players certainly didn’t like that.
Blizzard had a second chance with Heart of the Swarm. Since the storyline revolves around the Zerg, it’s only natural that the Starcraft brand will shoot up in sales right? Wrong. Wings of Liberty sold 1.5 million copies in the first 48 hours, which is impressive, though Heart of the Swarm only sold 1.1 million in the first 48 hours. That’s around 400,00 copies short – which means something is definitely not clicking with the audience. Also, if the popular Starcraft franchise is doing well, where are the numbers or the statistics in sales? There are none – because it’s not doing half as well as everyone anticipated. From a business perspective seeing poor sales of a game means it’s less popular – and why would anyone want to buy, let alone play – a game that’s not popular?
The entertainment value isn’t worth as much in terms of watching Starcraft 2 either. In the Brood War days, there were plenty of mini battles all across the map. In Starcraft 2, there’s only one objective for players – create the biggest deathball you can and attack-move. Despite some of the strategies that include a timing attack in order to get ahead, most of the game revolves around the deathball and winning the game at the 10-12 minute mark. Protoss players know this very well, and so do Terran players who play mech strategies. Zerg? Well, they’re just always at a disadvantage.
The game still has players (like myself) who still believe in the Starcraft franchise – only because of the story. The only reason why I’m buying the third installment, Legacy of the Void, is to see how Blizzard decides to end the storyline. As for the multiplayer experience, I don’t think there’s much left to salvage. In Heart of the Swarm they made Terran unbelievably imbalanced for close to a full year before they decided to change anything – and that hurt the Starcraft 2 playerbase significantly. Widow Mines and Hellbats were simply overpowered, and Blizzard refused to do anything about it for at least half a year. They might’ve kept their Terran players playing, since everyone likes to play the race or class that’s overpowered – but they lost a big chunk of their Zerg and Protoss playerbase.
No one knows what Blizzard is doing – but with the numbers and reputation that Starcraft 2 holds, it’s more than likely that it won’t do much to revive the franchise.