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World of Starcraft: New Blizzard MMO to be announced May 19? (Updated)

StarcraftComputer and Videogames’ website is purportedly confirming [see Update below] what has just been an incessant rumor up to now: Vivendi game studio/World of Warcraft developer Blizzard Entertainment will announce an MMO spinoff of their wildly popular Starcraft franchise at the company’s May 19th Worldwide Invitational in South Korea.

I say “purportedly” because the CVG article only cites unnamed sources, and I don’t want to jump the gun; I’m checking with Blizzard’s PR department now, and will report what they say, if anything. Then again, Blizzard has been running help wanted ads for developers of an unnamed “Next-Gen MMO” on its site, these last few weeks, and Starcraft is the other jewel in the company’s IP crown.

Assuming the company does confirm, is a Starcraft MMO a good business move? For the Asian market, absolutely, but it’s hard to imagine it would reach anything like the global success of World of Warcraft.

So far, science fiction-themed MMOs based on well-known IP have performed poorly against expectation: Star Wars Galaxies only managed a few hundred thousand subscribers; Matrix Online didn’t even reach six figures. (My personal theory is that sci-fi just doesn’t work in an MMO, because it’s not fantastic or other-worldly enough to feel like a meaningful escape into an alternate reality. After all, what’s the appeal of pretending to be in a world of spacecraft, high-tech military hardware, and pervasive computer interfaces, when you’re already in one?)

Another challenge: Both Warcraft and Starcraft began as real-time strategy games, but it was easier for Blizzard to make the genre leap with the fantasy-themed Warcraft, already similar in appearance and gameplay to other fantasy MMOs. Without a large pre-existing audience for sci-fi MMOs, it’ll be a lot tougher to convert Starcraft into a multiplayer roleplaying game that’ll appeal to its RTS fanbase.

Except, of course, in South Korea, where 3.5 million of the 9 million units of Starcraft have sold. Given its population of 49 million, that means one in sixteen of the entire country has a copy; there’s even Korean television shows devoted to Starcraft gaming. Which is probably why Blizzard’s making the announcement there (if they are). I’d expect any Starcraft MMO to be developed for the Korean/Asian market first, and only after proving itself there, localized for Western consumers.

Update, 6/19: IGN is reporting that Blizzard announced development of Starcraft 2, not a Starcraft MMO.

27 Responses to “World of Starcraft: New Blizzard MMO to be announced May 19? (Updated)”

  1. EVE Online is interesting, but as someone said it 2 comments above, not user-friendly. In order to reach a massive audience like WoW did, the new sci-fi MMO must be thought and made to appeal both the casual and hardcore players. Bioware could succeed in doing this with their project of Star Wars Old Republic MMO. Blizzard could do it with this rumored Starcraft online project.

  2. This is a very well-written article. Nicely pointed out, how much more difficult it will be to create a spacecraft environment as appealing as the fantasy-based WoW.

    Can’t wait for another MMO released by Blizzard! Can’t express this enough! It’s gonna be spectacular!

    To those supporting EVE: EVE Online will never become as popular as any game of Blizzard, because it’s not user-friendly. Meaning, stupid people will most likely have no idea how to play it. But that has its advantages, right?

  3. i find it hard to believe its going to be a starcraft MMO. FPSMMO’s havent had much of a great run. and to think with the launch of SC2 and then a MMO is a little much for the starcraft department.

    EVE-Online ive been playing for 3 years now and is by far the best MMO ive played (in my personal opinion) and its “sci-fi”. you see this game takes players in a different way than anyother, player driven market, real-time losses (sry no respawn for you), wars, peace, free for all zones, and be ganked at any moment.

    but my point is, starcraft department would have alot on thier hands, and FPSMMO’s are hard and sci-fi MMO’s are not hard, its just the companies that make them in turn make them bad.

    personaly i see diablo before starcraft in a MMO. turning starcraft into a FPS would make it shit, starcraft is starcraft because it is what it is, an RTS.

    Warcraft is launching wrath of the lich king.

    Starcraft is launching Starcraft 2 with a great multi-player system.

    Diablo? Where has it been? what is it doing? where is it going? if anywhere.

    Before anyone judges, i play EvE, Starcraft, Diablo and W3FT (warcraft 3 Frozen throne) and then WoW. on a normal basis.

    diablo it should be. starcraft would fail. sci-fi is not hard. FPSMMO’s are gay.

    PS: EvE-Online FTW. you carebears.

  4. Blizz ftw..In the end,Blizzard isnt one person its a giant corporation,able imo to easily run 2 “off the chart” MMO’s at one time,and i truly believe they could pull off a “World of Starcraft” and it would soar.I play WoW, and would have to play Starcraft if it came out.

  5. With the storyline in World Of Warcraft Devoloping. You allready have the aspects of Protos running in the new Race Drania or what theyr called. With the UFO that crashes and they all suddenly have memory Loss. In the Startcraft Storyline. there is alot of hints about “in ancient times we crashed on a planet and forgot who we were” and then “We were once normal before we got banished” i know alot of Guilds in WOW, Lineage 2 & Vanguard that surely want to leave and play World Of Starcraft. we had an school project where we got signatures about who wanted to play that. and so far we have 114233 signatures in a small country like mine. so i know now that WOS gonna be bigger than WoW.

  6. World of Starcraft would have tonnes of possibilities. It would also take less time in the races because there are only 3 races in the Starcraft universe. They could only make certain areas on each planet available & keep the rest of the planets blocked for further production of new areas. Players could be able to pilot around in space in a small spacecraft just like the WoW:BC Flying Mount. It would be fun.

    However I do question the time of completion however. It must have taken around 5 years for the development of WoW.

    To be honest I would suggest that Blizzard goes ahead & make the Starcraft MMO. After all, I think that we could do with a change from WoW. Give the Future a chance, because there would be a greater variety of weaponry and technology in the game.

  7. i would love to see a sci-fi MMO come out… unless SOE was at the wheel! lol

    i played SWG for years and it was awesome IMO (until the CU & NGE screwed it over)

    i’m playing WoW currently, and having a blast at it, but i do miss SWG’s crafting system, it’s pre-cu combat system, and it’s community.

    To me, the community is what makes an MMO fun =) and SWG definitly had an awesome community… we all played together, we all got refunds for “trials of Obi Wan” together, and we all went to WoW together. I would like to see Blizzard take on the SWG project… while i doubt it’d be as successful as WoW, it would sure be a better sci-fi MMO than what SWG customers are offered now.


  8. Thomas

    No good Sci-fi games? i can understand why people may try to say that… since there is no dedicated shelf in the local Wal-mart… But EVE Online happens to be alive and thriving, three years running and still 29k people. Perhaps it’s because there is one server, but considering there is a fraction of that on a crowded WoW server then where is the problem?

  9. Virgil

    Tim, in looking at your second paragraph I can honestly say, you make no sense. You said “Why would they bust their balls off trying to continue a story that’s been chewed on so many times that it’s tasteless?”

    This leads me to ask you the exact same question, except more specific. “Why would they bust their balls off trying to continue a story like Warcraft’s, when it’s already been chewed on so many times that it’s tasteless?”

    Basically, your argument is that they would be making a mistake, continuing a game that’s already had two installments, but then, that doesn’t even remotely consider Warcraft. As of right now, it’s had not three, not four, but FIVE installments, and they are going to add at least one more expansion to World of Warcraft before they just keep it running and occasionally balance it like they have with Starcraft and Diablo.

    In fact, if you just consider the fact that they’re even willing to create so many installments for WarCraft, it’s no surprise that they might be considering a World of Starcraft, or a World of Diablo. Maybe there would be a bit more surprise with Diablo, but for a different reason than you’ve presented.

    The only reason I can conceive that they wouldn’t make a World of Diablo, unlike a World of Starcraft MMO, is quite simply the fact that World of Warcraft falls under a disturbingly similar setting. They would actually have two fantasy games competing with one another for profit, something that just wouldn’t make any sense, unlike having a Fantasy and a Sci-Fi MMO simultaneously.

  10. Bob Stevenson

    i do belive world of starcraft will succeed simply because ive played starwars galaxcys and it didnt do well because it iwas just bad. starcraft has many fans and will pull many current wow players to it. This will possiblly make it the most played mmo on the market once its released and wow has been going downhill even with burning crusade unless they release northrend soon i think its going to kinda fall apart in a year or 2

  11. sigh u guys “new product” in blizzard history has always meant a NEW GAME, when they say “we have decided to continue the Warcraft series” or when they say “sequel” usually means an addition to an already known chain of games.
    Also why would they bust their balls off trying to continue a story thats been chewed on so many times that its tasteless. But imo im happy even if they continue warcraft starcraft or diablo. Though looking at it through blizzards eyes i doubt it.

  12. Tiana

    I think making a sci-fi MMO would be incredibly lucrative. The lack of success so far is just that no one has yet made a sci-fi MMO as stable, user friendly, simple to run and visually appealing as WoW has for fantasy.

    The amazing thing about WoW is it pulled in a whole lot of non-fantasy fans because it’s just so much fun to play. Most fellow WoW players I know aren’t even into fantasy, they just want to escape somewhere amazing but not have to invest huge chunks of their lives into to enjoy it.

    For sheer escapism sci-fi can be just as attractive as fantasy. Sci-fi conventions tend to be more packed than fantasy based events after all. Sci-fi is like a different flavor of fantasy and can be just as creative and fun; and Blizzard is very creative. I’ll hang up my claymore for a lightsaber-type blade, my crossbow for an energy gun, my plate mail for a power suit. I’d love to play an alien, android or cyborgnically enhanced human perhaps more than an elf or dwarf. The attraction is there but just not a sci-fi MMO entertaining, easy to run or user friendly enough to feed it so far.

    A World of Starcraft? I’m drooling already.

  13. I think world of warcraft and its expansion are still relatively new. Announcing World of Starcraft doesn’t make any sense. I’d add that 8-9 years have passed since the release of broodwar, so it’s really time for Starcraft II.

    Do you remember what Blizzard VP said in 2006? He said he would be the happiest person to be announcing Starcraft II after a decade from Starcraft’s release. That should mean Starcraft II might be released next year.

  14. I just spoke to my friend @ Blizzard he said it definitely will be a MMO game and it’s actually called Worlds of Starcraft.

  15. Russell DSa

    Just spoke with my friend working @ Blizzard. The announcement will not be World of Starcraft. This has also been confirmed by Blizzard in the past.

  16. Russell DSa

    I agree with brklynsurfer. Starcraft IMO is the best game of all time. I’ve been waiting for SC2 (as an RTS, not an MMO) since 1999!

  17. Well, I wouldn’t say that Sci Fi isn’t “otherworldly” enough to match up to fantasy MMO games. I think it is.

    I think the problem is that they’re trying to make Sci Fi MMOs based on the current mechanics of Fantasy games and it may not be the way to go. EVE online is finding growing numbers and they’re part of the pioneering of SciFi MMO games. Once the genre settles into it’s own personal feel and mechanic, it may work better.

    Otherwise it probably doesn’t work to just take a fantasy MMO and change the skins and names of things to fit a Sci Fi theme.

  18. You’re right, Don, I should have mentioned the Diablo franchise too; of course, in the context of IP that can be made into an MMO, I doubt Blizzard would want to operate both WoW and a World of Diablo MMO at the same time.

  19. Peder Burgaard

    I agree to the notion that Sci-fi MMO’s have been poorly designed. Star Wars initially had a good design IMO but the CU & NGE upgrades completly screwed that game over…sadly:-(

  20. Re: my prior comment

    In case it wasn’t clear, “the only ones” = “the only ones prior to WoW”. Let’s not forget that, especially in the US, no-one had ever dreamed of, let alone seen, and MMO like WoW.

    Don’t make that mistake if Blizzard ships another MMO. It’ll be a monster.

  21. (In a prior life, I built video games, and even worked on MMO technology.)

    I see how easy it could be to jump to the “sci-fi just doesn’t work in an MMO” conclusion, given the examples, but there’s a much much simpler reason: Star Wars Galaxies and Matrix Online were both terrible games. Beyond terrible, really.

    I think nearly any MMO fan would tell you they’d love to play a really good sci-fi MMO, and Blizzard is possibly the only PC game company on earth that delivers hits reliably, so I suspect if there was a MMO Starcraft, it would be incredible, and could replicate WoW’s success.

    Let’s not forget that “sci-fi” is an incredibly broad term, at least as broad as “fantasy”, and there had been tons of sucky MMO fantasy games, too. Very few hits, actually – Ultima Online, Lineage, and Everquest being really the only ones. I believe genre isn’t nearly as relevant for success as actual game quality.

    You also mention “the other jewel in company’s IP crown” but you’re missing a much much bigger one: Diablo. Industry rumors have long had Diablo III coming before another Starcraft game, though whether it’ll be an MMO or just an online-enabled single player game, is still up in the air.

    Personally, I’d be thrilled either way – Blizzard’s track record is pristine and both IPs are to die for.