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Starcraft 2 considers F2P model

Starcraft 2 considers F2P model

A free-to-play model could run the risk of upsetting Starcraft 2's carefully balanced gameplay.

Blizzard is considering a free-to-play business model for eSport favourite Starcraft 2 in a move that would work towards unearthing more professional quality talent.

Talking at a panel discussion at the Valencia eSports Congress, PCGamesN reports that Blizzard designer Dustin Browder stated free-to-play was an option for the game's multiplayer.

Browder added that there are however logistical and design concerns in transitioning the game towards a free-to-play model. As Starcraft 2 is not terribly modular in its nature, players not having access to the same selection of units could make its carefully tuned balance difficult to sustain and would possibly diminish its effectiveness as a professional tournament-friendly game.

'That's definitely an option for us at some point down the road,' said Browder. 'I don't think there's any reason why we wouldn't, except to make sure we do it properly, that we don't make any mistakes, and that we are supporting the fans the way we're supposed to.'

Starcraft 2 currently has a Starter Edition available for free, allowing people to try out a selection of multiplayer maps as the Terran race. Browder suggested that one solution to the balancing issues of going free-to-play could be to sell entire races separately.

Although predominantly sold as a one-time purchase allowing unlimited access over Blizzard's Battle.net service, alternative business models for the real-time-strategy giant already exist in different parts of the world and it requires a subscription in South America and China.

Blizzard is currently preparing the launch of The Mists of Pandaria, the fourth expansion for MMO behemoth World of Warcraft. When the MMO's subscriber base was reported to fall to just over 9 million, there was a suggestion that it too might transition to a free-to-play model. Blizzard however have decided to keep the game's free trial with a level 20 cap and currently have no plans to abandon the subscription model.

The next instalment of Starcraft 2, Heart of the Swarm, has entered its beta phase but a launch date has not yet been confirmed.

19 Comments

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Star*Dagger 25th September 2012, 15:26 Quote
I really look forward to this free to play crap dying down.

MMOs had the perfect situation: players pay a subscriptions, devs get a constant revenue stream and can high people for the long term to create a great mmo.
F2P encourages people to jump around to different games, encouraging the ritalin crowd to plague more than one MMO at a time.

If you want to train in a game, pay the small fee of 15 dollars or euros a month and sit down and immerse yourself!

Yours in 0.0 Risk and Reward Plasma,
Star*Dagger
SMIFFYDUDE 25th September 2012, 15:32 Quote
How about just allow it to be sold through Steam and pick up more players that way. F2P might be dandy for the devs but it's crap for actual gamers.
p3n 25th September 2012, 15:53 Quote
MMO subs arent good value if you wan't to play casually .... and wtf has that got to do with an RTS?
rollo 25th September 2012, 15:55 Quote
Cant say i love free to play tend to stay away from all games that head this route as they suffer in quality compared to a paid game or mmo.

Rift is a prime example of an mmo that has survived as pay to play, It has 1mil + subs and has been around that level for its lifespan now.

Too many companies are thinking free to play is a way to con more cash outta people. Of the f2p games i have played i have never personally paid for anything from it.
Phalanx 25th September 2012, 16:02 Quote
Make the singleplayer campaign free to play instead and I'm there. Couldn't give a crap about the "OMGIdidntclicktwicepersecondforthelasttwominutesandnowivelost" multiplayer.
fallenphoenix 25th September 2012, 16:24 Quote
Oh Blizzard, where did you go wrong? Was there not a stable parental figure for you to look up to and tell you they were proud of you? Was the adoration of your legion of fans insufficient confirmation of your success? Is that why you've let Activision turn you into JustAnotherAAA Studios?
Harlequin 25th September 2012, 16:28 Quote
The entire concept of F2P wont work with SC2 as mentioned in the article , it would turn it into a `who pays , wins
Jehla 25th September 2012, 16:53 Quote
Or they could reduce the price. Seems to be the same price as it was at launch.
fdbh96 25th September 2012, 17:35 Quote
Its not really that much of a problem. League of Legends has managed it, and I would probably at least try SC2 if it was free to play.
XXAOSICXX 25th September 2012, 18:49 Quote
Might as well have been titled "Starcraft 2 considers P2W model"
Gh0stDrag0n 25th September 2012, 19:25 Quote
FU Activision/Blizzard.
Sloth 25th September 2012, 21:48 Quote
I just want them to finally release all three parts of the game. I was worried that the excitement for SC2 would die down after Wings of Liberty and that seems to have come true. Most people probably haven't realized but it's been just over two years since Wings of Liberty was released and we're still looking at a couple/few more months for Heart of the Swarm (expect a sudden boost in hype followed by release just as Mist of Pandaria loses its sparkle). Add another two years for Legacy of the Void and you're looking at over four years just to finally finish the story.
Sviatoslav 25th September 2012, 22:16 Quote
The Tribes Ascend is the only F2P game I found decent enough to play for more than 20 minutes. And, after all, they aren't that free, as you very quickly get to the point of needing to pay for things without which it is a pain/impossible to progress :-(
DriftCarl 25th September 2012, 22:32 Quote
I think F2P should be for the arcade SC2 part. So I can play some fun games with some friends that dont really play RTS games much. There are hundreds of fun maps in SC2 created by the community. Some great maps are rarely played because they dont get any hype.
LordPyrinc 26th September 2012, 01:02 Quote
I guess free to play means different things to different people. I always thought of it in the context of games (particularly MMOs) that charge a monthly subscription fee. Starcraft 2 only requires the initial game purchase and doesn't leech off the user from month to month like its older brother the cartoony looking MMO known as WOW. Other than rankings and achievements, SC2 is a far cry from being anything like a traditional MMO. Diablo 3 would be a closer fit to that mold, but even D3 doesn't charge month to month either, or really resemble the environment of an MMO.

fdbh96 mentioned League of Legends... I'm thinking Blizzard is looking to claw back some of the popularity lost to LOL. Why else make SC2 free to play? I havent played League of Legends yet (keep meaning to get around to it), but I did play a lot of SC2 for months. It's extremely competitive and you always feel like a noob. If your APM count wasnt well into the hundreds, it felt like you were nothing more than a casual gamer.
lp1988 26th September 2012, 14:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloth
I just want them to finally release all three parts of the game. I was worried that the excitement for SC2 would die down after Wings of Liberty and that seems to have come true. Most people probably haven't realized but it's been just over two years since Wings of Liberty was released and we're still looking at a couple/few more months for Heart of the Swarm (expect a sudden boost in hype followed by release just as Mist of Pandaria loses its sparkle). Add another two years for Legacy of the Void and you're looking at over four years just to finally finish the story.

I have no problem waiting a long time for the finished product, as long as the wait doesn't end up like the wait for Episode 3 or the likes. I trust Blizzard to not to release a semi-finished product and would rather have tree good instalments over five years than five OK instalments over five years.

Not sure about the F2P model, depends very much on how it is implemented but if it is going to require me to pay to be able to play properly I will have to stop playing.
general22 26th September 2012, 16:22 Quote
F2P works fine as long as it is kept to cosmetics only or other things that don't affect the gameplay. TF2 and Dota 2 are good examples. I think the League of Legends setup works well too.
Sloth 26th September 2012, 21:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by lp1988
I have no problem waiting a long time for the finished product, as long as the wait doesn't end up like the wait for Episode 3 or the likes. I trust Blizzard to not to release a semi-finished product and would rather have tree good instalments over five years than five OK instalments over five years.
I'm fine waiting for a good product that needs it, but in the case of SC2 I question whether it's needed. It's been my complaint since they decided to split it into three parts: why is it needed? All aspects of the game, the engine, the network interactions, the majority of units (assuming some are added in future instalments), the UI, everything related to the actual game is complete. And if Wings of Liberty is released surely the story for the next two campaigns is already fleshed out (else they're just making it up as they go) so what's really left to do? Where's the two years of work? That's almost as much time as it took to make the first game, and this is effectively just an expansion.

But I should also say that I don't like the episodic release setup in the first place, it's not just SC2 or Blizzard. Just as Episode 3 has shown us it's counting chickens before they've hatched. If you know what game you're trying to make and already have enough content in mind to make episodes then just take your time and release it as one game.
Quote:
Originally Posted by general22
F2P works fine as long as it is kept to cosmetics only or other things that don't affect the gameplay. TF2 and Dota 2 are good examples. I think the League of Legends setup works well too.
Bit odd that you suggest TF2 as a good example of a game where items don't affect the gameplay, it's hugely impacted by items. Love the game, but that's what killed it for me. Dota 2, imo, is Valve's refinement of TF2's item system. All items truly are cosmetic.

LoL's system more or less accepts that it's not as fairly balanced as buying all the heroes outright. The heroes are designed to be balanced against each other, yes, but having access to more heroes allows for more options and possibilities which offer advantages. It's still successful, though, because it's understood that this will be a problem that everyone will face. There are no players who bought a boxed copy with all of the heroes, there are only F2P players, some of which may have bought all of the heroes but not for any different price than anyone else (barring sales/changes in price). SC2 is largely incompatible with such a system both because the difference in genre, and the fact that you'd have a difference between paid and F2P players.
lp1988 26th September 2012, 22:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloth
I'm fine waiting for a good product that needs it, but in the case of SC2 I question whether it's needed. It's been my complaint since they decided to split it into three parts: why is it needed? All aspects of the game, the engine, the network interactions, the majority of units (assuming some are added in future instalments), the UI, everything related to the actual game is complete. And if Wings of Liberty is released surely the story for the next two campaigns is already fleshed out (else they're just making it up as they go) so what's really left to do? Where's the two years of work? That's almost as much time as it took to make the first game, and this is effectively just an expansion.

But I should also say that I don't like the episodic release setup in the first place, it's not just SC2 or Blizzard. Just as Episode 3 has shown us it's counting chickens before they've hatched. If you know what game you're trying to make and already have enough content in mind to make episodes then just take your time and release it as one game.

You have a point in that there are little reason for the long running time, but again we are really not in a position to tell them how to do it, and considering the usual quality of the cut scenes and the likes I would not be surprised if it required quite a long time to make. XD

In the end we are technically talking expansions as you say, and I do believe that Blizzard has gone out saying they intend to price it accordingly.

One reason there may be is the competitive scene, if they released these expansions too close to the original game there would not be amble time for the competitive scene to really grow and get a solid foundation before it was mixed up. So it may end up having been a tactical decision with focus on the competitive scene, however still with the drawback of loosing hype in the general population.
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