When you’re one of the biggest video game companies in the world, and you own some of the highest grossing video game IPs in the world, everyone is rooting for you to fail. Blizzard Entertainment has been releasing hit after hit for years and years, so it’s no surprise that when the highly anticipated launch of Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty finally came and passed, it piqued the interests of game enthusiasts and media industry members alike. With a 12 year gap between this release and the last entry in the series, which is highly regarded as one of the premier strategy games of all-time, Blizzard had a lot to live up to, and they had to deliver across several different channels.
The crossover between the Internet and gaming has long been bridged: most console and nearly all PC games house some kind of online component; and most important games have a website launch coinciding with their release to the market. In refreshing such a massive game for the new millennium, Blizzard overhauled their entire Battle.net online platform – they upgraded servers, built an extensive new website for the game, and gave users the ability to access their in-game profile (achievements, friends list, rankings, ladder statistics) from the web.
Blizzard has also made Starcraft 2 the first game to bring social media in to the mix by allowing gamers to import their Facebook friends list into their gaming: players can add Facebook friends to their in-game friends list with the click of a button.
So, how did it go? I’d say it was a massive success on all fronts. The game sold extremely well out of the gates and continues to sell well. The online community has been bustling with activity since the game’s launch – the game’s web forums have a large supply of contributors, articles about the game in general and specific in-game strategies have been written, news updates are abundant, and a major game patch has just been released. There are also many contributors outside of Blizzard: live streaming matches air on dedicated sites, match replay videos get posted to YouTube and Blip.tv channels daily for community analysis (and scrutiny) ; Blizzard even included a fan-site package
It’s been occupying a lot of some Dashboardians’ time – it’s not uncommon to find a few members of the team here after a long day of coding or designing, getting in a quick multiplayer match: either getting destroyed by better players online or battling to the death amongst themselves.