Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

No Starcraft for a Month?

Apparently the Starcraft II beta will take an extended break for „several weeks“ before becoming available again shortly before the game launches. Aside from the fact that that will make many players (including me) unhappy, I have to wonder why Blizzard would do this.

Sure, they might have gotten all the feedback they want for now and just don’t see the point in running the beta any longer than necessary. They might also be planning extensive changes to the server architecture and those are surely easier to implement when you don’t have thousands of players bashing in your login servers.

There’s also a lot wrong with taking down the beta for so long though. Up until now it has proven to be excellent publicity for the game; even spawning tournaments with four figure prize pools to hand out to players. I’m afraid of what will happen to all the excitement when players are suddenly cut off from the glorious entertainment lifeline that the beta has been so far. All the people who have been watching videos will no longer be able to do that, forcing them to spend their time on something else and thereby focusing their attention elsewhere.

Professional players migrating from Broodwar will lose their daily routine of practicing and will have nothing to do for several weeks. It feels to me as if this forced break might leave quite a few players behind or at least curb their enthusiasm for the game.

It seems to me that the clever course of action would have been to either start the beta later so that players get to neatly transition from it into the finished game or to cough up the extra money necessary to keep the beta servers running while setting up the new live servers in the background. It seems to me that having a set of extra servers available wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for the company anyway. Any new patches could simply be tested on the beta servers once the real game goes live.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming Blizzard for this at all – it is a beta and they have no obligation to provide me with constant entertainment through it. I just think they could have handled this better and improved their own profits by doing that. The amount of free hype they get from the beta must be invaluable and should be worth something to them to keep it up.

Now please excuse me, I need to play the hell out of Starcraft II before they take it away from me!

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