Not Computex 2013: StarCraft II is changing. Free to play (with friends) and potential new Steam-like Battle.net
Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2013 - 02:40 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Starcraft II, HoTS
Big news for fans of Blizzard titles, as if we did not have enough news items. While the majority of this news pertains to fans of StarCraft II, Diablo and Warcraft players should pay attention. You have more to digest than the crumbs Kerrigan let fall to the ground.
The first news is most relevant if you have not yet played StarCraft II yet have a friend or friends who keeps nagging you to play with him, her, or them. A new feature, called "Spawning", allows Battle.net accounts to piggyback on the expansion level of party members. Actually, they even encourage it with XP boosts and a custom CarBot-illustrated achievement. This will also upgrade the free StarCraft: Starter Edition in a party with a Wings of Liberty or Heart of the Swarm owner to whatever expansion level is highest in the party. Starter can be promoted to Wings of Liberty or Heart of the Swarm, and Wings of Liberty can be promoted to Heart of the Swarm until the party breaks up.
The only restriction that I feel is worth mentioning: you, still, are only able to select the Starter Edition race (currently Terran) if you only have a Starter Edition account.
Of course there are other restrictions. You are unable to play the campaign, for instance. But, for the most part, the rest seem quite logical. This might also have some indirect relevance beyond Starcraft. If successful, I can see Blizzard implementing Spawning into their other franchises such as Diablo. Of course, this is just speculation of what might be at this point.
The other story comes from mmo-champion who posted screenshots of a unified Battle.net launcher. I was immediately suspicious, but after checking out the linked Battle.net Support Pages I am more convinced. The launcher looks quite a bit like Steam and that is really the only way to describe it. Each page is laid over a faded background image and players can choose from one of over a hundred avatars.
We then of course enter into the question, "Why would Blizzard spend so much effort for their handful of games?"
Who knows... yet, at least.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 4, 2013 - 03:44 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: WCS, starcraft 2, HoTS
A little eye-rest before another barrage of Computex news...
Blizzard took over the canon StarCraft II tournament scene as of last year. The goal was to create a unified ranking system between every tournament and help participants deal with scheduling, a problem in recent years. Throughout the entire year, Blizzard is hosting the 2013 StarCraft II World Championship Series. They seem to like breaking rankings into seasons and the 2013 series, alone, will incorporate three of them leading to the year's grand finals in November.
One year per series; three seasons and a grand finals per year; three regional tournaments and a finale per season. This season's finals will take place this weekend, June 8th and 9th, in South Korea.
Tournaments in Europe, Korea, and North America chose the 16 competitors for the 2013 Season 1 Finals this weekend in Korea. The top five competitors in each tournament (top six for Korea) earned their invite. In all: 3 Protoss, 5 Terrans, and 8 Zerg will be participating. I guess their hearts are only half of the swarm.
If the regional matches were any indication, the seasonal finals should be a very entertaining bridge between Computex coverage and E3 2013. Players are getting much better at the game mechanics while still being able to surprise their opponents and even the audience with unusual strategies. Players exploit windows of weakness in their opponents with a moment of strength; the entertainment mostly comes from seeing each player attempt to delay or lengthen those windows all while hiding their own weak periods into times where the opponent is unable to reasonably exploit it.
What are your opinions of "eSports"? Good concept, bad name?
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