StarCraft II Sells 3 Million In First Month

By Quintin Smith on September 1st, 2010 at 1:13 pm.

Protoss doing their protossing, yesterday.
Blizzard has announced that StarCraft 2 sold 3 million copies worldwide in its first month on sale. That’s good news for any game. For a game with two must-have expandalone releases in the pipeline, I daresay it’s the sound of a leathery Porsche brochure flomping through the letterbox. Or maybe I’m being presumptuous- Blizzard’s boys were were working on SC2 since 2003, after all.

In any case, remember those people complaining that StarCraft 2 was dialing the RTS back by 10 years? The thinking there was that StarCraft 2 ignored all the advancements the genre had made in the new millenium, and that this could only be bad for strategy games as a whole. Whether you agree with that or not, these sales figures do give that argument a little more clout.

Oh, you know what else I’ve just remembered? When Kieron and I took apart PCG during the StarCraft 2 beta and uploaded it to YouTube. Video after the jump.

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131 Comments »

  1. Pod says:

    3 Million feels quite small, actually. I expected 5 or so!
    But what do I know?

    • Navagon says:

      For a game that’s going to be seeing at least 95% of its sales on PC (some people actually play games on a Mac… I know…), that’s not bad at all.

      After all, it’s excluding all the 8 year old Xbox Live tardlets which sadly represent a powerful consumer base.

    • Nessin says:

      The problem is lack of scale. People see 3 million and think some other game sold 10 million, so SC2 is doing horrible. Yet, on the other hand, 3 million sales alone places it easily within the top 10-20 games sold since 2005, period. Or, in other terms which might mean more to some, In over 5 years SC2 is already ahead of at least 95% of every other game sold in that time period. Because somehow people forget that a whole lot of games get released every year even if only a few sell exceptionally well.

      Hell, selling a million copies of a game on any console is a pretty big achievement.

    • Pema says:

      It is a very poor number indeed.

      Specially compared to the other big Blizzard franchise.

  2. Quasar says:

    I keep meaning to buy this. I had the 7 hour trial and loved it, despite being awful at RTS games. I even went to Tesco last night to find a copy to buy with all my lovely shiny vouchers, but they were sold out.

    Next week, it shall be mine.

  3. Cooper says:

    That video. Ouch.

  4. WiPa says:

    I can’t even make a joke about that video. It’s too terrible! (For PCG of course).

  5. Centy says:

    I sure wish PC gaming wasn’t dead… wait what?

  6. UsF says:

    I don’t think I will buy this, not with all the artificial restrictions, which made the first game great. It might be good, but we always get told to speak with our wallets. So that’s what I am going to do.

    • StormTec says:

      What artificial restrictions do you speak of?

      And are you saying they were in the first game and they’ve taken them out for the 2nd one? Your first sentence is confusing.

  7. Tusque d'Ivoire says:

    a leathery Porsche brochure flomping through the letterbox

    that phrase isnt just a beautiful description of a sound, it is a beautiful sound in itself. just read it out loud to yourself.

    love you guys.

  8. rocketman71 says:

    Truly sad. This and the MW2 sales. We’re mainstream now, hoo-fucking-ray.

    • Navagon says:

      I’m more worried about MW2 and what it will mean for the future of FPS than this. Now that C&C has been thoroughly murdered by EA with Twilight, no other old school RTS has the clout to be resurrected like this. So developers will have to rely on innovation to get noticed in the genre.

      MW2 on the other hand has pointed out the fact that most gamers are utter drooling retards and will buy anything if it’s marketed right. Hell they’ll even buy recycled map packs just because you denied them the ability to play user created maps. Other publishers have paid heed to this. I don’t doubt that for one moment.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      It could just be that Modern Warfare is fun to play… I mean, I don’t know, I could just be spit-balling, but it seems like a notion that may have some merit, rather than looking down on millions of people as idiots because they enjoy linear FPS games and you don’t (THE HORROR!).

    • Rinox says:

      I don’t think he was talking about the game as such per se. MW2 stands for utter and arrogant contempt for the (PC, at least) customers. But clearly a lot of us like being abused since its sales were stellar.

      If you bought MW2 as a PC gamer fully aware of its ‘qualities’ you’re actively funding the downfall of the PC gaming industry, sad to say.

    • Jimbo says:

      I still don’t really know what he’s getting at. PC games used to be capable of selling a whole lot more than 3 million copies. Were we ultra-double-mainstream back then?

    • misterk says:

      only if you don’t buy other titles as well. Big publishers make stupid games is not terribly surprising, but I haven’t noticed Valve lowering their quality recently… the pc game industry will not be ruined by modern warfare doing well.

    • Walsh says:

      How do you reconcile this view with the fact Call of Duty Black Ops will have dedicated servers and mod support?

    • Rinox says:

      @ Misterk:

      I don’t necessarily think it will be ruined by it, but if we as customers are willing to pay for the shenanigans that MW2 pulled (which we did, en masse) we’re definitely contributing to its downfall.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      @ Rinox

      It’s not like people bought it, realized they were stupid, then stopped playing it. The game is still one of the most-played on Steam and the DLC sold well, showing a high level of consumer satisfaction.

      You might not like it, you might not agree with it, but that doesn’t make the people who bought it and enjoyed it dumber than you. That’s my main point… his original statement was so arrogant it made me grit my teeth.

      Plus I think people underestimate the number of consumers, like me, who like the CoD series for the campaign, which was completely unaffected by the server and DLC nonsense. If you loved the campaign in Modern Warfare 1, which most people who like linear singleplayer FPS games did, then of course you wanted Modern Warfare 2. That doesn’t make them stupid either.

    • Jeremy says:

      Don’t be a hipster.

    • Robert says:

      Isn’t Elton John mainstream as well?

    • DrGonzo says:

      Stick it to those arrogant cocks.

    • Navagon says:

      @StingingVelvet

      There are many linear FPS out there. Not all of them come with such an inflated price tag yet manage to be little more than stripped down versions of their predecessors. Not all of them remove the possibility of mod support so they can profit from massively overpriced DLC. Not all of them are lazy console ports devoid of PC specific features that are par for course in any other similar game. Not all of them have less than 6 hours of painfully retarded single player, and a multiplayer so unmoderated and unsupported as to be completely useless.

      Oh and did I mention the lack of dedicated servers?

      I like linear FPS. But I do not like that game. I dislike it simply for what it represents. It tells publishers that they can put no effort in and still make a bundle if they market it right. It tells them that they can overcharge and still make huge profits.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      @ Navagon

      And you’re entitled to that opinion, but acting as if everyone who disagrees with you is a blathering idiot just makes you look like an asshole.

    • Rinox says:

      @ Stringingvelvet:

      Well I clearly don’t agree with the OP, I was responding to another post. I also didn’t say anyone who bought it was dumb, well ok that “abuse” sentence was perhaps a bit strong for which I apologise. And you have every right to like the game for its SP campaign, but I do think most people play the game for its MP since the SP campaign is so short and because the MP has this semi-mythical status to it.

      Which is fine, if it weren’t for the fact that cutting out dedicated servers and modding options is effectively castrating any appeal the PC has left as a gaming platform. Why shell out 700 quid for a PC when you can play the same game on a twice as cheap console with the exact same features and less compatibility issues?

    • Navagon says:

      @ StingingVelvet

      I’m not directly calling people retards. What I’m saying is that Activision treated people like retards and all those that bought the map packs were effectively telling Activision that treating people like retards is definitely the way to go.

      My beef is with the publisher. But I can’t say I’m too fond of all those who make their cynical perspective seem like the correct one. If people don’t want to be thought of as retards then being a bit more discriminating with their purchases in future would help no end.

    • BlooDeck says:

      I like how both sides of the argument ignored Walsh’s comment about Black Ops bringing Dedi servers and even mod support (though the latter is likely going to be limited… but then I didn’t expect extensive mod support anyway).

      However… MW2 was a well polished game that perfected it’s formula. But fucked with PC users massively. And our purchasing power failed us as we ate it up in droves/ those mindless inferior people who really shouldn’t be PC gamers and should stick to their silly Playbox 360 Station’s are it up in droves. But at least our whining powers succeeded so Black Ops gives us everything we asked for, yay!

      It’s still a mindless game though, but like a Michael Bay film, it has in the industry.

    • Navagon says:

      @BlooDeck

      You raise a good point. But even Activision have openly stated that they don’t expect as much of a return from Black Ops as they would an Infinity Ward title. Treyarch simply don’t have the clout necessary to really stick it to the consumer and make a profit regardless. They have to make concessions, and after the demise of Infinity Ward it’s going to be difficult for them to keep the brand alive when they’re openly hostile towards their own consumer base.

    • TheSquarePear says:

      @Misterk
      L4D2 has console port written all over it with limited FOV and an obnoxious hud among other things.
      Portal 2 looks like some twisted imagination pooped out from an OD’ing LSD tripping hippy.

      I can’t believe that the engine used in L4D2 is any way related to L4D’s or any other HL2 title.

      If this is what we will get from HL2:EP3 then I think I’ll pass or it will be a forced play through from me.

      Just look at the top ten charts for sales.
      1. Mafia 2
      2. StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty
      3. The Sims 3
      4. The Sims 3: Ambitions
      5. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
      6. World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
      7. The Sims 3: World Adventures
      8. The Sims 2
      9. Command and Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight
      10. Sniper: Ghost Warrior

      8/10 are follow ups to well established IP’s
      How does that illustrate the state of gaming today?

      Thankfully I have a pretty big backlog and an 360BOX (Mercenaries 2 is a lot of fun) which can keep me somewhat entertained.

      The days of focused shooters (Quake, CS, UT) are pretty much over and replaced by a steady stream of fluffy average ports.

  9. Paulinc says:

    3 Million is quite impressive for a PC only title. Other developers/publishers would sell their souls to achieve that number of sales.

    • bob_d says:

      3 million is an amazing sales number for a PC game… but after this whole “gaming isn’t mainstream” discussion, I’ve started thinking in terms of ticket sales, tv show audiences and book sales. In that context, it’s terrible. (It’s also not so great compared to the cost of development and marketing.)
      Also, considering half those sales were in the first 2 days, it hasn’t lived up to expectations. The first game had most of its sales in Korea, but the response from Korea has been less than enthusiastic for the sequel. Blizzard games are in the enviable (freakish, even) position of being on store shelves, selling steadily, for years, rather than the weeks that every other game gets, so they’re in for the long haul.

    • Azradesh says:

      @ bob_d

      Starcraft 2 wasn’t really “sold” in Korea, at least not how it is here. They can pay for it by the hour or by weeks and get it free if they are playing WoW already. So it seems to me that this is 3 mill without even mentioning Korea which I think is pretty damn huge.

    • bob_d says:

      @ Azradesh: I’m a little unclear on what the actual model is in Korea. The SC1 sales numbers I’ve seen did explicitly include Korea (as they made up a significant portion of the sales), so clearly it was being sold there. I assume it’s a combination of individual sales and sales to game cafes (which I understand have been on the wane in the last couple of years). The model may be slightly different now, but the early 1.5M sales were excused as being weak by Bliz, saying that the game hadn’t shifted in Korea “from ‘free trial’ to purchases” yet. I believe they have now, and the purchases clearly haven’t made much of a dent. I hear from Korean friends that people aren’t terribly enthusiastic about SC2 there.

    • jsdn says:

      @bob_d Korea isn’t terribly enthused about SC2 when compared to SC1, but I know that Korea makes up roughly 13.5% of the world’s population of players. Considering total population counts, that’s quite a large percentage.

  10. pkt-zer0 says:

    Keep in mind that KeSPA is still keeping SC1 pros from playing the game, but not for much longer, I believe. That should boost sales a fair bit, when it does happen.

    • jsdn says:

      As long as KeSPA stays out of the red they will continue to do everything possible to see SC2 fail. That’s pretty clear.

    • Azhrarn says:

      KeSPA will have lost it’s license to broadcast all StarCraft related content on the 1st of September.
      Blizzard withdrew support for them earlier this year and didn’t extend their license.

      GOMTV now holds the exclusive license to all StarCraft stuff in Korea, so expect to see a LOT more SC2 in Korea pretty soon. In fact the GSL (GOMTV Star League) which is starting soon will be StarCraft 2 based. ;)

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      I don’t speak acronym and am too lazy to look up things that you really should just type out.

  11. bit_crusherrr says:

    PC gaming sure is dead.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      PC gaming isn’t dead of course, but I must say this only means something if this success can be repeated by anyone other than Blizzard, which I don’t think companies believe is likely.

    • bob_d says:

      These sales numbers do not contradict that statement. Blizzard is one of the only developers that can get these kinds of sales numbers, and pretty much the only one who will get a significant number of sales after the first month or two. Traditionally, if a game didn’t make a profit in the first month, it never would; Blizzard is the only developer I know of that continues to get strong sales for years. Last year Blizzard still occupied a number of top-ten spots on the American PC games sales charts for WoW, Diablo 2 and Starcraft. I’m not sure if that says more about how strong their sales are or how completely screwed the PC game market is. I suspect both.

      That said, 3 million copies is actually a disaster; it probably doesn’t even cover marketing costs. Given that the game has been in development for about a decade, the dev costs are nothing to sneeze at, either. Reportedly Activision pumped $100 million into development, and that was after the game had already been in development for more than twice a normal game development cycle. (Which means it’s pretty much the most expensive game ever made.) They might make a nice profit over the long term, but they’re the only company in the world in a position to actually have a chance to do that.

    • Azradesh says:

      @bob_d

      That 100 mill figure was misreported and is actually the total cost of WoW to date and as I said in another post to you this 3 mill doesn’t include Korea as far as I know.

    • bob_d says:

      @ Azradesh: Ah, yes, I just saw the retraction of the $100M report. However, given the length of development time and the huge marketing costs, we’re still talking about a number that’s probably 3/4 that, unfortunately.

    • Nessin says:

      @bob_d

      Three million is far away from a disaster. It ranks pretty high up there in the success charts (near the top). Sure you can always point out a few other games that did better, but the list of games greater than that is very small and the list of games that did worse is incredibly large. Plus you’re not factoring in a few other items:

      1) It’s generally been recognized that PC games sell far better over time than console games. Even on cross-platform games you’ll see a better trend on the PC versions over time than the console.

      2) Game development costs for consoles are much higher than PC titles. Not only does console development require all the tools (except a potential small savings on number of random test PC configurations) that PC development does, but consoles have the added cost of paying for the additional development tools to work on the console and you have to pay the console manufacturer what a royalty (or some other pre-negotiated fee).

      3) Let’s be perfectly honest here. SC2 may have been a long time in coming, and I’m sure a significant amount of work went into its development, but it had no where near the costs other games in that situation might have had. The Starcraft backstory was already created, most units were pre-existing from the past games or slight modifications, the graphics got an update but they were built using pre-existing designs and artwork, voice-acting (except the big name people) is incredibly cheap right now thanks to supply and (no) demand, and a lot of the balance/AI work ported directly over from their past efforts with Starcraft 1. While I have no doubt SC2 cost more than your average game, they had huge savings compared to what other companies would have faced.

    • bob_d says:

      @ Nessin:
      1) I should have said, three million would be a disaster if that’s all they ended up selling, which they won’t of course. (For a PC-only game that may be top of the charts, but once upon a time, three million units sold would fund multiple projects in a studio, now it doesn’t necessarily cover costs for one game. This is the current problem with game development.) You are absolutely right in that PC games have longer life than console games, and Blizzard is the master of the “long tail,” getting decent sales far longer than any other publisher. It’ll be selling for years, but three million alone is not “porsche buying money” when it may not even cover marketing costs (depends on how many of those sales were downloads vs. boxed retail sales).
      2) The last PC game I worked on, we talked about getting console development tools. They were expensive, but not as expensive as many of our other costs, such as the various tools we were already using. I tend to think of console royalties as eating up a percentage of revenue more than adding to cost.
      3) SC2 saved money by being a sequel, it’s true: so many gameplay and design decisions were already made. But given the duration and size of the team, not to mention scope of the game, costs were still bigger than most PC game developers can afford. All the art assets were brand new (probably all new concept art, too, even for existing units), there were 58 voice actors (probably being paid union scale at least), and the brand-new engine was designed to be extremely flexible and multi-purpose which added to the cost. The marketing costs have been enormous, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if that alone dwarfed most companies’ development and marketing costs. Make no mistake, this game was expensive.

  12. drewski says:

    Even though I’m not really interested in this at this time, I’m pleased to see it’s doing well.

  13. Moni says:

    For perspective: Modern Warfare 2 sold 4.7 million in 24 hours.

    That’s probably across all platforms though.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      SC2 sold 1.5 million in 48 hours. As people have been saying, for a PC title that’s stellar business.

      Besides, isn’t Modern Warfare 2 officially the fastest-selling game of all time now, or something? Seems an unfair thing to be compared to.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yes. For perspective compare it to any other RTS game.

    • Coriolis says:

      Well, seems to me like you should compare their budgets first, so you know what the actual profit was on the games (although the 3-part thing with SC2 complicates things). I’m sure that’s what the suits are doing.

      I wonder how well SC2 is doing on that front.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      True, but what other RTSs have had an advertising campaign including 30 second ads on network television(ads during NFL broadcasts, even in preseason, ain’t cheap)? I don’t doubt that SC2 will have gross revenue that surpasses any other RTS, but I do wonder how much chalked-up to the SC legacy, and how much is due to the ubiquity and power of Acti/Blizzard advertising dollars?

    • Jimbo says:

      For a PC exclusive in 2010, 3 million sales is borderline miracle (I don’t think anything else this year has sold 1M, let alone 3M). But for the amount of time, money and marketing they have poured into it, I bet they were thinking 5M+ by the end of the year.

      It is another success for Blizzard of course (was it ever in doubt?), but I don’t think it’s enough of a carrot to make other publishers start trying to chase it or anything like that. There is still a much higher chance of emulating this success with a PS3/360 title after all. It’s good news for Blizzard, but a non-issue for PC gaming as a whole. Blizzard, as ever, make a terrible indicator for how the rest of the industry can be expected to act.

    • Tei says:

      I have a friend that hardly play any game, and wen play something, is one of these boring and slow strategy games like Europa Universales, Victoria… he probably plays 1 game every 5 years. The idea the Starcraft has a second part freaked him out with a “I WANT”.
      He hardly remenber SC1, but the idea of SC2 make him say “I WANT IT!”.

      *rolleyes*

    • Jad says:

      I just looked at the sales totals on consoles (Xbox 360, which is VGChartz, which I know is pretty incomplete and crappy data), and it is a bit dispiriting. Kung Fu Panda sold 3m on Xbox 360 — although I will note that that game was included as part of a 360 bundle at some point. More significantly, games that are fairly PC-centric, such as Fallout 3 and Left 4 Dead 2, sold ~3m on the 360 as well.

      I’m sure that Starcraft II’s sales will rise over time, but at the moment, it has sold as much as L4D2 on a console. Which says to me that if they had made a console port, even one that sucked, they would have doubled their sales already. Which is kind of depressing.

    • bob_d says:

      @Jim Rossignol: And for another perspective, compare it to its estimated development and marketing costs. Ouch.

      @ Coriolis: Yeah, absolutely, and it would have to be in the red with 3 million sales.
      This is something that bugs me about RPS: the problems facing PC game development get pooh-poohed by mentioning sales numbers. When you spend 10 times the money to develop the sequel as the original game, having the same, or even slightly more, sales is actually a disaster, not a sign of health. If development costs are low, having static sales numbers can be fine, but with everyone having to compete with games like GTA, Starcraft and WoW, development costs by necessity have risen to unsustainable heights. This is true for both PC and console development.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      This isn’t a disaster by any means. The game does not have to break even in the first month. The original Starcraft sold strongly for YEARS.

    • SuperNashwan says:

      “Yes. For perspective compare it to any other RTS game.”

      I did, and… their games were nothing compared to Starcraft 2!

    • Jordan says:

      3mill * $60 = 180 mill dollars.

      The last I heard it was $100 million budget, but then that was found to be made up. Blizzard doesn’t release internal information like this.

      Eitherway, it’s very believable that they are in the green and have high seas ahead.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Jordan -

      That’s 180 million USD in grosses. They haven’t released how many copies they sold in retail. I don’t know the mark-up, but imagine somewhere between 20-30 USD per boxed copy went to the retailers. Include the promotional costs, and I can see how how 3 million copies sold could still leave them in the red.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      I believe that SC2 marketing budget was slightly smaller than the $200M figure for MW2. You can sell anything, even your crap (as one Italian performer did, and I heard it wasn’t even his shit) if you market it properly.

  14. Goomich says:

    You shoud check this ubeatable Protos strategy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRdAc0LEE5A

  15. Tim E says:

    So, Quintin, fancy a rematch?

    • Pani says:

      First I read your name as “Tim Edwards”, then I read it as “Time” and then as “TIMMY”.

      Sorry Mr Edwards :(

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Pani: Good work.

      Tim: No I am scared of you :( Maybe after Zerg get their boost in 1.1.

  16. Thomas M. Hughes says:

    Why is Blizzard still considered “the good guy” of PC gaming when it does things like force people to buy expansions or charge $60 for what amounts to a remake with more shiny bits.

    You’re honestly telling me the largest PC developer can’t even be assed to allow people with different versions of the game to play together? If a significantly smaller studio like Relic can do it, there is no excuse for Blizzard other then they just want to extract more money from their customers.

    If the future of PC gaming is just Acti-Blizzard then PC gaming is dead.

    • Rinox says:

      I don’t think they’re “forcing” anyone to buy expansions. I only buy expansions if they offer promise of continuing the quality of the original game. I can’t say anything about the former, but the latter (quality of the original) doesn’t seem to be in any doubt.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Sorry, you hate MW2 and think it contributes to the death of PC. Which by the way is total shite, because yeah a game selling millions of copies on PC will really put people off the platform. But you buy Blizzards games who’s WoW is a much bigger threat to PC gaming as we know it imo.

      Not that I have a problem with either really. Just seems hypocritical.

    • Fumarole says:

      If you don’t buy expansions Blizzard will shoot your dog.

    • Rinox says:

      @ DrGonzo:

      Wait what how is WoW a threat to the PC as a gaming platform? A PC exclusive game? Vs. a game that comes out on all platforms, with the PC version stripped of everything that gives the PC it’s appeal (modding options, dedicated servers)? By putting out neutered PC versions of their game they’re effectively telling people to buy the console version, because let’s face it, for all their shooters like MW2 are principally console games. They play better on them.

      I don’t hate MW2. I do hate what it represents though.

    • Jordan says:

      Rinox – I appreciate your vigilantism against MW2. I’ve come to accept these games on the PC though. They are selling to a majority audience. The common folk if you will. These people are not the high pedigree player community that has been fostered by us, the players, on PC. They are the marketable drooling dweebs that the major publishers exploit at every chance.

      I make my rounds through various FPS and the best player communities I have come to find are PC Battlefield servers. I will not purchase a game like MW2 that kills dedicated servers with no mercy. That’s killing the community’s ability to self manage itself. With the performance I’ve seen given by IW, I know they won’t regulate it either. But what happens if the players that flock to these publishing house’s latest marketed monstrosity have no where else to go?

      They end up coming to the servers I play on and then I am unable to avoid them any more. This is a situation I don’t want to see. They can have their padded safe for everyone play rooms.

  17. Kwix says:

    I seem to have tripped over your gauntlet. You can’t just throw them down whereever you please you know. RPS health and safety dept. must be informed.

  18. Ignorant Texan says:

    Thomas M

    I don’t remember Blizzard holding a gun to my head. At least they aren’t going the bogus DLC on release date as a sneaky way to get past the locked-in-stone refusal of people to pay more than 49.95USD(and I know the list is 59.99USD).

    That said, I may be one of the few who doesn’t like Blizzard’s games. A taste thing, not out of any principal or contrarian impulse.

  19. Sagan says:

    I guess this means, that the battle for innovation in large products is over, and it is lost. When most of the biggest selling games feature the same gameplay as their predecessors, then publishers are going to discourage their developers from innovating.

    But StarCraft 2, Modern Warfare 2, GTAIV and the likes are all good games, so I guess this isn’t too big of a shame.

    What I’m more worried about than StarCraft 2 taking RTS gameplay 10 years back, is StarCraft 2 taking story in games 10 years back. Especially since another game with weak story is the best-selling game ever.

    • Starky says:

      Good in my opinion – people trying to “innovate” did as much damage to gaming as sequelitis.

      Trying to be new and original is a sure fire way to fail at both – throwing away good idea’s because they’ve been done, and strapping on new ones good or bad (more often the latter) isn’t how design should be done.

      Indie games might have that freedom, because they are small and carry little risk and usually involve a small team if not one person.
      Games made by more people than could fit on a bus should not try to innovate, but simply be great. Get core concepts and mechanics down and polished, then and only then begin throwing around new idea’s.

      Even in other genre’s most attempts to be original, to innovate fall flat – the best films, books, plays all steal shamelessly from other works, and seek to improve upon them, or take them in a different direction.

      Don’t get me wrong I like new gameplay, new idea’s new things in my games – but for too long the buzz word innovation has rules too much – new idea’s should be used because they are good, not just because they are new.
      Innovation as a priority leads to things like APB, a game which innovates in so many ways, yet failed amazingly to get it’s core gameplay to be in any way appealing or fun.

      While Valve do things right – they get the core down first, make sure the basic gameplay is fun, then iterate on top of that to test and create new and unique aspects.
      It’s design by Darwinism, survival of the fittest idea’s.

      Almost all the best games of the past decade take something solid, tried and tested, something that is good and build upon it – games that cast off gameplay mechanics of past successful games in an attempt to innovate fail badly most of the time.

      As for starcraft 2, I honestly think SC2 has done more ofr RTS gameplay than people give it credit for in the single player – yes the mutiplayer is a carbon copy (almost) but it should be. People didn’t want a “new” SC2 they wanted the old one in remade in a new engine.
      THe story in SC2 was okay – it wasn’t good storytelling, but people claiming that it is the worst thing to ever happen are hyperboleing needlessly. It’s a cheesy cliche’d plot and you know what, sometimes that is okay. Hell I’d even say sometimes it is enjoyable.

      Now to the part where it IS original, mission design – the single player mission design in SC2 blows every RTS of the past decade out of the water, no other RTS has the variety and originality in mission that SC2 has, every mission in that game is unique and fun (with maybe 2 exceptions) – and plays differently.
      Very few are just a simple “turtle until you have a massive army then roll out and crush your foes” which most RTS games of the Westwood style had.
      Even more original RTS games like world in conflict has very samey mission structure – they were fun, but all followed the same basic goals.

    • Starky says:

      Huh, that reply ended up being a bit longer than I intended when I hit reply, hehe.

    • Chris D says:

      “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. ”
      C. S. Lewis

      C.S. Lewis died in 1963 so probably didn’t play many computer games but if he had he probably would have agreed with you.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I couldn’t disagree more. The singleplayer missions were boring, and all apart from one level were completed through turtle-ing in the exact same way I have since the original Command and Conquers. To say they added a few novelty missions and that that is innovative is ridiculous. The old Command and Conquers always had novelty missions like Starcraft 2 had.

      I did enjoy Starcraft 2 though, but I agree it’s worrying that people buy stories that are so bad. Starcraft 2 had one of the worst plots I have ever played through. Modern Warfare 2 also had a pretty poor story as did Avatar. All the most popular things are bland and inoffensive, that’s why they are the most popular.

    • Ryan says:

      “Good in my opinion – people trying to “innovate” did as much damage to gaming as sequelitis.”

      Here, here. The innovation in Starcraft happens in the ‘meta-game’ between its players. The ingenuity that I see in SCII multiplayer competition is so much more interesting than the kinds of innovation in the Supreme Commander series of games, for example. Blizzard understands this and keeps the Starcraft games as elegant and balanced as possible.

      Each race has units, tech trees and play styles which work differently. Each unit’s utility and cost/benefit in a range of scenarios is considered by Blizzard. It is because of this that the gameplay is more malleable—players are able to showcase their own creativity and dexterity within the game.

    • Ryan says:

      *Hear, hear.

    • Raum says:

      SC2 isn’t taking anything “back” in any case. I really don’t understand how this ridiculous standpoint came into fruition in the first place.

      If anything, SC was far far head of it’s time, and other games have played catchup ever since (in trying to replace balance and plasticity with silly gimmicks).

    • Rinox says:

      @ DrGonzo:

      You won’t hear me say that SC2 was a beacon of originality but to say that “all but one” mission could be done by oldfashioned turtling is just a lie. If anything the game tries multiple times to pull you out of your “set up a base and build X amount of unit X and overwhelm enemy” comfort zone during the singleplayer campaign. Overall I found the balance between microing and base-building pretty great in the SP campaign.

    • jsdn says:

      All the missions were much more varied and interesting than any other RTS I’ve played, and I’ve played just about all of them. My only complaint about them is that they’re all too focused on the unit of the mission. It makes the unit upgrades somewhat useless because you often have to build the unit that the mission is focused on to survive. You can only upgrade that unit after the mission is over, only to never use it again because you’re forced to build the unit of the next mission, and so on.

    • Starky says:

      Also, once you step up difficulties above normal things become a lot less forgiving about you sitting in your base – you get rushed, you get pressure, and SC2 just doen’t have the base defences of something like C&C to counter that – you need units and you need to attack, even expand or you run out of minerals fast.
      Hard makes it a game you need to be proactive about, brutal makes it a game where you have to be down right cunning – clinical strikes on essential production buildings, on enemy scvs (I’m not sure if the AI cheats with money but I don’t think they do)… so on.
      All the while defending your base AND pushing out.

    • jaheira says:

      SC2 single player is great fun but there is something weird about it – a huge gap in difficulty between Normal and Hard. I’m finding Normal trivially easy, Hard is a bastard. (I’m not complaining, I like difficult games)

    • Starky says:

      I think hard is mainly designed for replays with fully upgraded units and full tech tree access, for example battleships make the zombie night mission trivial on hard, but without em it is nails, especially if you want the achievement.

      That is one thing I like about the Achievements in SC2 they are fun challenges, it’s not just “collect 100 X” but really tough and worth doing just for the fun of it.
      Well most of them anyway.

    • Starky says:

      That said, I’m playing through hard right no with not much difficulty doing the missions – mostly…
      I’m a gold league player though, so while I’m not great, I’m not rubbish either.

    • Raum says:

      Starky:

      I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. When you replay campaign missions, you always have the same tech tree as you originally had, so I’m not quite sure I see how you could replay them with more advanced tech.

    • Starky says:

      You can replay the missions whenever you like from the bridge (at any difficulty you like), keeping all of the units and upgrades you have so far.
      When you finish the game you can load that save and replay missions with everything you have unlocked.

      Mainly for the achievements, but it’s really the only way you can play Brutal.

      The first missions are quite amusing with battleships :P

    • Raum says:

      Right.

      Must be a bug, since you certainly won’t get all the upgrades when you’ve finished and loading the missions from the ordinary menu.

      Better finish the achievements before the patch then :p

  20. Lewis B says:

    Does this include download sales, i.e. Steam et al?

  21. Max says:

    Re: Lewis B.: The only available digital distributor for starcraft 2 is Blizzard themselves, so I believe they would be including those in the numbers.

  22. terry says:

    I’m impressed, the APM in that video is almost in single digits!

  23. ChampionHyena says:

    Alright, I got confused by the last paragraph before the jump. We’re saying that SC2′s great sales are giving the “SC2 is uncreative and backwards and bad for strategy games” argument more clout? How does that work?

  24. Freud says:

    Those sales are brilliant. A game like this will continue to sell also. No doubt a Blizzard game carries with it expectations of high sales due to the money invested. As much as I like to swing a stick at the Kotlick/Activision/Blizzard pinata, I think a healthy Blizzard is great for PC gaming in the way a healthy Valve is.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      I’m torn, myself. On the one hand, healthy sales on PC can only be a good thing. On the other, I imagine share-holders in other publicly-traded publishers look at Acti/Blizzard numbers and demand similar results, leading to abysmal failures, both creatively and financially.

    • bob_d says:

      PC gaming isn’t so healthy when Blizzard is one of the few publishers making those kinds of sales numbers. Also, I’ll withhold judgement of their success until they actually make a profit. (Which might take a few years.)
      PC gaming is in good shape when we have a large number of healthy PC developers and sustainable development costs, both of which are issues right now.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      bob_d

      Valve, Paradox, CDProjeckt, 1C and GSC seem to be at least surviving. I know that isn’t a large number, but I don’t believe things are quite as dire as you portray.

    • bob_d says:

      @Ignorant Texan:
      I know development costs are out of control, and the market hasn’t grown enough to support them. Every successive game needs higher and higher sales numbers to stay profitable. It’s getting to the point where, as a AAA developer, having a top-ten selling game isn’t nice, it’s necessary to stay afloat. It’s so bad that for the first time in game development history, having a #1 selling game across multiple platforms is no longer a guarantee that the game will re-coop costs, much less make a profit. There are fewer and fewer companies able to put up the money needed to make a AAA game and generate the sales numbers needed for the game to succeed, or absorb the huge financial blow if the game isn’t a success. So we’re seeing a smaller number of successful games getting a bigger and bigger share of the pie, so to speak.

      I know that right now 2/3 of the job openings I see are for Facebook games and their ilk. I know more and more jobs are being outsourced to countries with low labor costs. I know a number of surviving jobs have gone from salaried to temporary contract positions. Everyone I know in the industry (myself included) has been jumping from job to job in recent years, as the companies they’re working for collapse in record speed. Of those that have jobs currently, many have gone from AAA titles to working on cheap “casual social games” (that don’t support many developers).

      I admit that everything seems darker when you’re sitting in a hole, but the general trends aren’t looking so good. Pointing towards individual games with (what used to be) good sales numbers sadly doesn’t say anything about the overall health of the industry, in fact, it doesn’t really say anything about the health of that company.

    • bob_d says:

      @Ignorant Texan: Also, I notice the majority of the companies you mention there are in Eastern Europe, where production costs are lower and the exchange rate favors exports. I also don’t know how many of them could be bankrupted by an unsuccessful game, i.e. I don’t know how healthy they actually are. I suspect Valve’s in good shape, but other than that…

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      bob_d

      I’m in a different industry, but from my situation and that of my compatriots, we’re all in a hole. Everyone wants it faster, cheaper and (preferably) foreign, the only thing bringing in any money is I do local location work, hard to outsource it to a foreign country.

      I picked publishers I like. I see that with the exceptions of Valve and Paradox, they are are Eastern European.

      I’m sorry if I came across as flippant, and I hope you didn’t take it a some smart-ass dismissal of your arguments.

      For all of our sakes, the old prayer ‘Oh, Lord, if this year no better, at least no worse’ seems appropriate

    • Freud says:

      @ bob_d

      While I do think the costs are too big these days, I suspect we will see a trend where smaller studios will emerge (think Runic) simply as an alternative route to staying profitable. Also, there are signs the technological arms race is over for the time being. Development teams simply can’t produce much shinier games without costs going even more out of control.

      I think there are developments that should inspire confidence, both from the view of game creators and gamers. The growth of digital distribution and that a lot of small independent developers able to make a living is encouraging. Some of them will mature into the Stardocks etc of the future.

      I doubt Facebook will be able to support all these programmers. Even Zynga needs a very large player base to make money, even though development costs are low.

    • bob_d says:

      @Freud (2):
      “Development teams simply can’t produce much shinier games without costs going even more out of control.”
      The disturbing thing is that point was reached a while ago and the industry kept going shinier. When developers get to the point where they’re counting on a game being #1 on the charts for a number of months just to break even, something has gone wrong. The next generation of consoles has been delayed because everyone knows developers can’t afford to make games for them (especially since they can barely afford to make games for the current generation.) But yet a new generation of consoles will come out, and expectations will be higher. The industry has a couple of years to figure out how to avoid completely imploding when that happens.

      “I think there are developments that should inspire confidence, both from the view of game creators and gamers. The growth of digital distribution and that a lot of small independent developers able to make a living is encouraging. Some of them will mature into the Stardocks etc of the future.”
      Digital distribution is a big help. Unfortunately bigger games will still need more revenue, from sources like DLCs, subscriptions, and RMT to keep going. Even for smaller indies things are harder, as indies are making games equivalent to former AAA titles, but without the hope of getting the same sales numbers. Torchlight might be equivalent to Diablo 1 in complexity and dev costs (reduced by outsourcing and being a heck of a lot more efficient), but it’ll never have sales in the same range as D1; it’ll take a much bigger, much more expensive game to reach those sales numbers. Hellgate was very much a modern equivalent to D1, and it cost over a $100 million all together. Even if it had actually been a success, it couldn’t have made its money back through sales; as a failure it caused at least three companies to be destroyed, because of all the money involved.

      “I doubt Facebook will be able to support all these programmers. Even Zynga needs a very large player base to make money, even though development costs are low.”
      Oh, I know Facebook can’t support all these games. The vast majority of these new “social gaming” companies will fold in the next year or two – that’s part of what’s so depressing about their dominance right now. Zynga needs more than a half-million active players for a game to be financially worth keeping. Zynga is to the social gaming space what Blizzard is to MMOs: the owner of the market, with whom one can’t really compete. With Zynga, you can’t even make a cheaper game to survive by getting their crumbs, as they’ve already dropped development to its most minimum level.

    • Archonsod says:

      “The disturbing thing is that point was reached a while ago and the industry kept going shinier.”

      Yes. 1977 I think, and the market has crashed and burned with depressingly regular cycles roughly every decade since. Can’t say I’m that upset as a consumer though – some of the golden periods of gaming tended to occur immediately after such crashes (precipitating the next boom period of course)

  25. TenjouUtena says:

    Seriously? We’re seriously going to blame Blizzard of cash-in? Really?

    Starcraft 1 came out in 1998. Broodwar followed about 6 months later. And there were two map packs put out not even made by Blizzard. And then we get Starcraft 2 in 2010. 2 games and one expansion in 12 years. Oh god please don’t gouge me!

    By contract, Call of Duty was released in 2003, and except 2004, has released a NEW GAME every year since. They have made 7, and next year will be 8. They also slipped out 1 expansion pack in there, and 7-8 off-platform versions or spin-offs.

    So, who’s cashing what in now what?

  26. Daniel Klein says:

    Who was that purple Protoss and has he ever played an RTS before? Or, I don’t know, a video game? Amazing!

  27. demonbooker says:

    Starcraft is not available through Steam… this is all Box sales or Digital Download directly through Blizzard.

  28. SheffieldSteel says:

    I’m happy that they are selling games, but I do think it’s a fair criticism to say that the basic gameplay is dated compared to recent RTS offering. After playing Company of Heroes, in particular, I’m not sure I could ever be persuaded to play this.

  29. DoucheMullet says:

    Is it just me, or does everybody who plays this game have a stick up their ass? Seriously, they’re so anti-social and snap at you for attempting to be good.

    • bleeters says:

      Hey, you try sitting down for long periods in such a condition.

  30. Carra says:

    This shows that great games still sell well, no matter the platform.

  31. Torqual says:

    3 Million for the first month feels a little weak for all the megahype going on around star craft 2. I bought it on release too, but feels lame. Sp Campaign is average. Mp gets boring after some matches. Not my game.

    Have a nice game.

  32. Starky says:

    Starcraft, and hell all blizzard titles (WoW excluded) have always been about the long-tail sales.

    Expect SC2 to be in the top 10-20 PC gaming sales list for a LONG time, years even – just like WC3 and Diablo 2.

  33. Choc says:

    You can buy a key online from blizzard, the demo has everything so you wont need to go get a disc

  34. Jordan says:

    To all who are glad we’re seeing strong sales on the PC, stop that.

    PC is not dieing, and this will not save it just like it can’t save you right now. Neither PC gaming nor you are in trouble. What this should do is prove to developers that a strong launch comes with a successful beta test and a polished product. It probably won’t though. Stardock will live on.

    Regarding those who are slamming the story: Porno needs stories just as much as video games do. They move things forward and without one your film would have no direction so they throw a cheap one down for effect. Also like them though, Videogames don’t require a ‘strong story’ to move forward. RTS especially, when has the story been anything more than a cheeseball over the top cliche filled candy coated confectionery? The story thus far does the job fine.

  35. Carson says:

    “Porno needs stories just as much as video games do.”

    Best comment in the whole thread. It’s funny because it’s true!

  36. G says:

    I really dont like activision, they are one of these ruthless companies. As Tei would say, they are very good at saying ‘Look at the shiny’ though unfortunately, and SC2 is a nice package but the way they operate just makes me so angry. They have really messed up the professional starcraft scene in korea which really frustrates me. At the moment it is currently up in the air as to the future of all the pro gamers.

    I havent played Modern warfare yet and really want to but as others have said, speak with your wallet.

  37. Melf_Himself says:

    That first Protoss guy you rushed was a massive scrub which renders your victory somewhat hollow.

  38. FieryBalrog says:

    Nice job pulling numbers out of your ass, bob_d (most expensive game ever made? budget was “probably” 75 million? 3 million sales doesn’t cover marketing costs, what, did they spend $90 million on marketing?)

    Sounds more like FUD to me.

  39. 0mar says:

    Blizzard pulled out all the stops when it came to marketing SC2. They rented a freaking jet airplane and flew it all over South Korea. They bought out prime TV adspace during the NBA finals. I would not be surprised if Blizzard spent 50 million+ advertising this game.

    • Azhrarn says:

      @0mar: Blizzard didn’t rent that Korean Airlines jet, Korean Airlines are one of StarCraft’s sponsors in South Korea and they painted 2 of their jets with the SC2 art to show that off. It was mostly marketing from their end, not Blizzards. It gave SC2 some nice additional marketing buzz, but that was also in the interest of Korean Airlines due to their sponsorship deals.

      If Blizzard payed them anything for that, consider what Korean Airlines themselves must be paying Blizzard to be the primary sponsor for several leagues in the StarCraft 1 and 2 Pro-scene. Their adds were quite prominent during the first SC2 tournament they sponsored.

  40. richmcc says:

    YOU. I have just seen this.

    YOU, Mr. Smith.

    YOU.

    I challenge you. I am calling you out. The phone, it is ringing. Ring ring! Ring ring!

    ANSWER THE PHONE.

    You have answered the phone. It is me, I am calling you, and the word I am saying down the phone is ‘out’.

    I am calling you out.

    We play again. Name your terms. Name your map. Name your race. Name your grave.

    Fair warning: I have now gained the experience I once lacked.