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Starcraft II: A Trilogy

October 12th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 9 Comments · Blizzard, Industry, RTS

I’ll be heading out on a short road trip to LA tomorrow morning, but I thought I should comment on the big RTS news of the week.

Blizzard is doing three long form campaigns for the upcoming Starcraft II, and each one will be packaged separately. So, if you want to play all three campaigns, you will need to buy the expansion packs. Some units will also be unique to the campaign settings, though otherwise, multiplayer will be fully functional in the initial release.

There has been a lot of complaining about this, and I understand why. There is a feeling that gamers are being asked to pay for something that they used to get for free. There’s probably also a sense that this is Blizzard, a company with more money than they know what to do with. Who do they think they are? If anyone can afford to put all this stuff in one box, it’s them.

This isn’t such a big deal for me. I generally don’t bother much with RTS campaigns unless it grabs me pretty quickly or I have to play through for work.

So if you are really invested in finding out if the Protoss space elves find their way home, then I get why you’d be annoyed that you will have to wait. But these will be three very long campaigns, and most games only have one of those. Company of Heroes didn’t ship with multiple campaigns. Age of Mythology didn’t, either. Rise and Fall: Civilizations at War (now available for free) had three modest sized campaigns. This will be a lot of content. Yes, it will be a fifty dollar purchase plus two expansions. But that’s not very unusual for a AAA RTS these days. The big difference is that you know how this is going to be months ahead of schedule.

I’m not going to tell you how to feel, of course. If this bugs you, it’s probably for a good reason. But, as bad as you think this is, it could be worse. Much worse.


9 Comments so far ↓

  • Scott R. Krol

    While I was trying to have a little fun with the ews personally I don’t quite understand the uproar beyond the fact that gamers feel a sense of entitlement to multiple-campaigns since all other Blizzard RTS games shipped with multiple-campaigns. Of course most other genres don’t do this. Panzer General was only focused on a German campaign. Baldur’s Gate was only focused on your party. You didn’t then go back and play it from the bad guys’ perspective (although a RPG about a party of monsters would be pretty cool…). So on and so.

    And all this noise about how they’re turning a $50 game into a $150 one? C’mon, you’re telling me that the same people who are clamoring for the game wouldn’t already be lining up for every expansion that comes out?

    And you know what, a lot of times I tend to get burned out by the time I’m into the second or third faction’s campaign. By breaking them up, and ramping up the content in each one, I think will prevent a lot of that.

  • Troy

    And it may not be a 150 dollar total in any case. Most expansions ship for less than the original, mostly topping out at 30 dollars.

    But, yeah, this is not a huge deal for me. It’s not like they are selling Diablo III with only a single class activated.

  • SwiftRanger

    I don’t mind it much either because WarCraft III’s campaign for example felt very clumsy when you saw how they tried to cram in so many new characters and story arcs, I wouldn’t want that to happen again with the StarCraft II campaign which seems to introduce a lot of new concepts (small 3D adventure parts between missions you choose yourself etc.) and new faces.

    I guess this also rules out a fourth, playable race in one those addons though. That’s going to be the biggest miss I think, especially after all that Xel’Naga teasing in Brood War.

  • James Allen

    I think the uproar might be more about consciously-made expansion packs. It used to be (back in the good ol’, pre-Sims days) that expansion packs were made based off of user feedback to enhance the game. Now, with games such as Spore, it seems like content is deliberately left out in order to make additional money. I mean, a “Creepy & Cute Parts Pack”? Seriously? Plus, people are cheap. I don’t have a problem with it either as long as the expansions are expansions and not required components to enjoy multiplayer.
    By the way, that Dominions IV news was freakin’ hilarious.

  • Justin Fletcher

    “This isn’t such a big deal for me. I generally don’t bother much with RTS campaigns unless it grabs me pretty quickly or I have to play through for work.”

    As the RTS Anti-Wonk, the campaign is really about all I play. But I’m not really upset by the SC2 news. If Blizzard makes the campaigns as epic as they claim, then I’m all for it.

    I know looking forward to an RTS for its plot is like admiring an adventure game for its tactics. But as derivative as the SC universe is, both the first game and Brood Wars told interesting stories. If three games means fleshing out the characters and situations, great.

    My only fear is that it could go the other way: the extra focus on each faction could make the story so navel-gazingly dense and self-referential with its “lore” that it becomes a parody of itself.

  • Nicholas Tam

    My first reaction: but what about the primary function of having a single-player campaign in an RTS in the first place – to introduce the game mechanics in progressive, isolated increments?

    Then I realized that Blizzard doesn’t do that anyway, and is probably trying to move away from it. The campaigns for Brood War and The Frozen Throne did everything in their power to act like story-driven mods (running within a consistent user interface) that would surprise us at every turn with what the developers managed to squeeze out of the scripting/trigger systems. They want the campaigns to feel like completely different games with the same input method. Like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but more so.

  • JonathanStrange

    It (the three separate games) is an issue for many though – at the very least it’s additional grounds for bitchin’ and whinin’ about the unfairness of it all. Myself, I immediately thought of the second & third games as expansions which if the first game is good enough, then I’d have no problems with buying the sequels – esp. if their storylines (in an RTS!) were cool. I loved Starcraft in my youth and I still could get into the background stories easily.

    But on forums, the complaining and rage is swirling. Soon, inevitably, some will say “And this is why I pirate!” with few, if any, posters pointing out that they’d pirate even if the game was a $1.

  • Zuhtu

    And this is why I pirate! No, seriously. I live in a country where we have to pay sometimes 3 times more then US prices. West has always exploited third world countries, so consider my actions as anti-imperialism.

  • Alan Au

    I don’t understand all of the outrage. I mean, I do understand why gamers are unhappy about having to purchase three separate prodcuts over the course of several years, but really it sounds like Blizzard wants to provide a gaming experience that’s too large for one game. I mean, can you imagine if Relic had tried to cram all of the Dawn of War content into a single product, or if all of the Sims content had been available at release?

    I suspect part of the problem is the way that Blizzard is marketing this. Personally, I would have announced it as StarCraft II and some planned stand-alone expansions to flesh out the other races via expanded singleplayer experiences.