SC2 Sales Great, But Not as Good as Expected

StarCraft II sold over 1.5 million copies during the first 48 hours after release, according to reports from Activision Blizzard earlier this week. Yet despite these record-breaking numbers, analysts are noting that sales aren’t quite living up to expectations.

According to investment group Lazard Capital’s analyst Colin Sebastian, "[T]his number is light of some forecasts, [but] we view this as largely a U.S./Europe number, with the majority of users in Korea still not reflected in the count." Sebastian notes that distribution models in Korea are often different than in the West, where users typically purchase a game outright, at or near launch. As a result, U.S. and European sales tend to be "front-loaded" towards heavy sales at launch that trail off fairly quickly.

In comparison, even for games like StarCraft II (which is something of a national pastime in Korea), Koreans are more likely to purchase a game after launch, or pay for access through a LAN center, or even pay for the game using time cards. Korean sales, therefore, can be expected to remain strong for longer periods of time, but to start off much more slowly than in the U.S.

Sebastian predicts that overall sales of the game could reach 4 million users in the first couple of months, and up to 6.5 million users within a year.

Dan Rosenthal is lawyer and analyst for the video games industry

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  1. 0
    axiomatic says:

    Close, I waited for a christmas sale before buying all of the Half-Life games at one time. So I guess the answer is "yes". And my complaint is mine to have, hollow as you may feel it is.

    I hope you have a great day.


  2. 0
    Magic says:

    I’m no apologist, I always try to view both sides from the middle ground, but my thoughts:

    Mission numbers: 26 is still almost equal to the original game (10 each at 30 wasn’t it?) and includes gameplay with the Protoss. I’d much rather the missions have gimmicks or be shorter as long as they’re entertaining, and they were, as opposed to the dull and repeated build and destroy objectives from the original SC. Most missions in SC2 took me between 10 and 30 minutes and were really fun.

    "I was amazed how little risk they’ve taken from SC1, and how they’ve basically ignored all RTS innovations in the last 10 years."
    If you think this with Blizz in mind, you don’t understand Blizz. All they’ve ever done is take successful concepts and then polish the hell out of them. They didn’t need to reinvent the game, just innovate it and keep it as a micro-intensive RTS game. See the ending comments of the Eurogamer review, I can recall that putting Blizz’s attitude to the game remarkably well.

    1. Didn’t particularly bother me, but I’m glad they did a U-turn on the idea.

    2. £35 from online retailers like Amazon and Play. The most I’ve paid for a PC game for years, but after playing it I think it’s worth it. The £45 on Blizzard’s site is ridiclous (for a digital product of all things) but it’s hard to complain if you can save money by buying it elsewhere.

    3. Fair enough. I’m going to try multiplayer, but the map maker is the main thing I’m focussing on after finishing single player.

    Activion’s track record \ 4 \ 5 – I detest Activision as well, Kotick is a greedy moron of a businessman, someone who seemingly wants to extract as much moolah as possible out of the industry rather than respecting its health and future (in short). However, part of the merger deal is that Blizzard operate separate from Activ, and I’ve seen no major evidence to the contrary. I’m uncertain over whether the £45 price for SC2 is part of this and consider it a moot point – if there are other parallels (Like over-priced DLC or the expansion packs costing over £30) then I’ll certainly be disappointed in Blizz.

    6. The DRM requires a account that you log in to and an internet connection. That’s not obnoxious in my opinion (Ubisoft, anyone?). I had no problems with it at all (Other than my account being compromised which stopped my first evening of playing the game but that wasn’t really Blizz’s fault). Not sure how badly other have fared.

    7. See above.

    8. Don’t know.

    9. Don’t know! Where’s this come from? A quick google shows something mentioned a few months ago and then a year ago beyond that. Has it been implemented yet?

  3. 0
    vaccine says:

    The game feels incomplete. I didn’t buy it myself, but played it through on a friends copy. You can throw missions numbers all you want, it doesn’t feel right to have all the focus just playing one faction. I’d much rather have had the 10/10/10 split from WC/SC than the all on one (with a few Protoss side missions) that we got. There is also a huge pile of filler in it but I can forgive that as it is skippable. I actually enjoyed the cut scenes and bits in-between the missions a lot more than the gameplay itself, which was pretty stale. I was amazed how little risk they’ve taken from SC1, and how they’ve basically ignored all RTS innovations in the last 10 years.

    I didn’t buy the game for these reasons:

    1)    Real ID. I had played WoW since launch, but quit the moment I heard the Real ID news. Even backpedalling (for now) on the issue didn’t persuade me to re-subscribe. It was really chilling and terrifying idea in my opinion and the fact they could even consider this was enough to put me off. For those claiming this was only protested by forum trolls who wanted to remain anonymous, I think you’re wrong. Those people would likely not care and carry on, only with the additional ammunition of being able to find out real life information of the person they were trolling. For me it was basically a career thing. I work in IT, and also help recruit for the company I’m at. One of the first things we do is google potential applicants and look at their various information on Facebook and the like. As much as you’d like to think otherwise, if I google someone’s Facebook and their profile picture is of them vomiting on the sidewalk or flashing in a club, I’m probably not going to call them up for an interview. Similarly I wouldn’t care if I saw an applicant posting on the WoW forums asking about a quest or something, but if there’s one with 200 posts a day talking in detail about theory crafting and in depth discussions I’m going to question the guys’ commitment. I am that guy, and when I eventually look for work elsewhere I didn’t want this against my name. The horrible reasoning they gave (prevent forum trolls) can be solved a hundred other ways.

    2)    The pricing.  Retailer price slashes for sales aside, the pricing for this is obscene. £45/60 Euros (around 70/80 dollars) is more than you’d pay for a console game, a PC Game, any game I can think of. I boycotted MW2 for the price tag, and I did the same here. Maybe we’ve just been spoilt by Steam sales or reasonably priced games, but I’ve played the whole SP campaign and was in the MP beta and nothing there justifies this price tag. It’s really cynical pricing.

    3)    I don’t enjoy the multiplayer scene so I would have just been buying it for the SP campaign. I didn’t like the idea of paying this much for just 1 race, even if it is the same length as the first game. I’d have liked the missions broken up into short arcs full of story to give variety like SC1/WC3 rather than a 12-15 length campaign with 10 filler missions for 1 race. I’m also really dubious about their “expansions” and whether they will try to price them as a full game or just an expansion. Given Activision’s track record I’m going to bet on the former.

    4)    The Infinity Ward debacle has put a sour taste in my mouth for Activision, as has their various frivolous law suits and general money grabbing behaviour. The general direction of WoW since Activision took over has also gone very downhill and that trend looks to continue in the next expansion.

    5)    Bobby Kotick’s attitude. This really pisses me off. I won’t say any more, but if you know anything about him you’ll know what I mean. I was cheering on Tim Schaffer the other week.

    6)    The DRM is really obnoxious. To say pirates had a cracked version out on day one shouldn’t really surprise anyone, and DRM as usual screws the paying customer whilst doing little to harm pirates. I imagine it won’t be long before theres a LAN pirated version.

    7)    The lack of progress. Okay to be fair this wasn’t a reason for not buying, this was an observation I made after playing it through. RTS games have made a lot of progress in the last 10 years since SC1. Now I’m not saying they should have copy and pasted all their ideas, but a lot of stuff (especially from the DoW series) would have been great intergrated into the game, but this just feels like SC1.5 rather than SC2. Safe was definitely the key word when they made this game.

    8)    The poor lack of features of Battle.Net at launch. I played the MP beta and these were apparent there. You can’t for example create chat rooms. Trying to get small parties together to chat is awkward. Finding anyone is nearly impossible, you really couldn’t get in touch with the player you just played in a random game to talk about the match. These features were present in Diablo, Starcraft and Warcraft over a decade ago, and are really basic things an online game (especially one that focuses on MP as much as SC) should have.

    9)    The micro-transaction system. A huge strength of SC and WC3 were the modded maps that came out for it. I was playing DotA long after my interest in WC3 multiplayer died. Now they announced their intention to charge people for maps. Whilst its all optional of course, how long before tournaments are run on paid for maps? The benefit of this is it allows developers to charge for their work, with a Blizzard cut included of course. You also have to pay to set up your own leagues and ladders with friends.

    Lan support was a non-issue for me but I can see how it could be vital for some. The obvious intention of this is to try to stop piracy by forcing all games through, but as we know this won’t last long and in the end will just end up punishing the customer, not the pirate, as with all DRM.

    There is also an air of dissatisfaction around the 3 campaigns split into 3 games thing. Many people are taking the attitude that they might as well wait for whatever battlechest or combination deal Blizzard will inevitably give to buy the complete game as one pack rather than in 3 high prices parts, especially if they aren’t interested in MP.

    If you’d said to me 10 years ago, 5 years ago, hell even 3 years ago, that I wouldn’t be the first in line for a new Blizzard product, I’d have laughed in your face. But since the acquisition by Activision they’ve managed to throw away over 15 years of hard earned consumer trust in the space of one short year. The real shame is that almost all of the reasons for this are nothing to do with the actual game content which (WotLK expansion aside) is still living up to their usual reputation for only releasing games so polished they gleam.


  4. 0
    airford says:

    Satellite, as cable and DSL haven’t gotten out to us yet. It acts in a tier system which does drop to 56k after so much bandwidth. Unfortunately, it is the best option for at least 6-8 months.

  5. 0
    airford says:

    Traditional LAN parties? No.

    Me and four friends with a router and laptops? Yes.

    Frankly it doesn’t bother me as much, but it still sucks that they took it away. And you really can’t play more than 2 SC2 online with the same connection or it tends to lag.

  6. 0
    locopuyo says:

    Big PC games don’t sell gaggillions of copies at launch.  SC2 sold a crapload at launch already, but if you look at the most successful pc games they keep at the top of the sales charts for years and rack up the sales that way.  StarCraft 1 was on the top 10 monthly best selling games for over 5 years and would appear on there once and a while even a few years ago.  

    Pwnage of Empires

  7. 0
    FlakAttack says:

    Ok, I have seen this argument posted by you multiple times and I have to say I have had enough. Shut the fuck up. People can and still do host LAN parties. It is still quite popular in some circles and has been a staple of PC gaming since the very start.

    But even more importantly, if I asked you "What do you think about the lack of LAN play in SC2?" you would say "Who cares?" It doesn’t hurt you or anyone else to have LAN play in the game, but it hurts a lot of people if you take it away. So why strip a game of a feature that’s been present in just about every multiplayer PC game ever? A couple idiots like you not caring is certainly not good enough a reason to remove it.

  8. 0
    Arell says:

    I have no complaints about the game (DRM, size of the game, etc).  I simply chose not to buy it because I have no interest in multiplayer, and I’d just assume wait until all 3 singleplayer campaigns are sold as a set so I can get them all at once.  Not a big deal, really.  I’m not really that emotionally invested in the first game.  I thought it was alright, but the story wasn’t that great, and I suck at multiplayer so the game didn’t have lasting appeal for me.

    So I’m a potential customer, just not one right now.

  9. 0
    Thomas McKenna says:

    Most ridiculous?  Not nearly?  Horrible?  Yes.  They thought they could tap into the popularity of social sites, but when half of posters on blizzard sites take pleasure in the fact that they’re complete retards in their posts, having their real name attached to their verbal diarrhea is less than favorable.  RealID is a decent idea in concept, but when you take into consideration the average level of posters on their forums, then RealID becomes stupid.

  10. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    Well, it IS SC2.  They probably expected infinity dollars on the first day, thus, whatever they got was "lower than expected."

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  11. 0
    Natas_Enasni says:

    You can’t play a goddamn skirmish mode without being connected to the internet; the game has been crippled to combat pirates who already circumvented these mechanisms.  I will never buy a game that pulls bullshit like removing LAN play when they are only punishing consumers not the thieves.


    Nuff said.

  12. 0
    Zerodash says:

    Answer me this HONESTLY.  Do you still do LAN parties?  If so, how often?


    I ask this because I have yet to meet a person who complains about this who still (or ever) goes through the effort of doing the whole LAN thing. 


    – I have managed to play single player without being connected to 

    – The game is 3 missions shy of the amount available in vanilla SC1. 

    – Would you rather Blizzard stuck to their guns about RealID?  And is anonymous trolling really that important?

  13. 0
    Thomas McKenna says:

     –Blizzard using a DRM mechanism to tie use of the game to (which was down yesterday).

    Meanwhile Steam really dissuades people from playing Valve games… However, some people don’t like this usage of DRM, despite the fact it’s not invasive or detrimental to your system.  But in the end, how dare a company try and make a profit by making sure only the people who buy their game can play it, and in a way that isn’t draconian.  This argument rates a 5/10

    –Blizzard flirting with the use of RealID and then backpedaling when met with a justified wave of disgust.

    Yeah, stupid move on their part.  However, saying that retracting a bad idea after listening to their consumer base to appease their best interests somehow leads to fewer people buying the game?  That makes no sense whatsoever.  Sure, the RealID thing was a bad idea.  I can understand people boycotting if it wasn’t taken away.  But boycotting because they fixed a bad idea before it was even implemented?  That’s stupid logic right there that only pretentious internet tough guys could adhere to.  0/10

    –Blizzard only releasing a third of the game in this package.

    They released a full game.  Get over it.  By this logic, Half life 2 is only 1/4 of a game (hl2 + 3 episode expansions), Starcraft is only half a game until Broodwar was released, Star Wars: A New Hope is only 1/3 of a movie, and the list goes on.  It is just as long as the original, with new advances, more varied gameplay, cinematics before and after each mission, and a handful of protoss missions, including full multiplayer.  As far as valid arguments go, this rates 1/10.

    –Blizzard refusing to support LAN play (the best feature of the first game).

    I’ll agree that this is a decent argument.  Especially given the fact that SC was made so popular with its LAN abilities.  Enough to warrant boycotting the game?  Doubtful, but there may be some LAN diehards out there.  8/10 because internet doesn’t suck like it used to.

  14. 0
    Kaeru says:

     The DRM complaint is valid – it’s extremely aggravating to not be able to complete achievements unless you’re online, but I understand why they did it.  You *can* play without being online, however.

    People do need to get off the "1/3 of a game" kick, though.  The SC2 campaign is as long as all 3 SC1 campaigns combined.  It’s a complete game.  Did people go off on DOW2 being 1/3 of a game because the campaign was just space marines?

    The other campaigns will be expansions, and that’s fine.  Just because SC2 went a different route with the campaign doesn’t make it any less of a complete game.

  15. 0
    Defenestrator says:

    I’m sure the "lower than expected sales" have NOTHING to do with:

    –Blizzard using a DRM mechanism to tie use of the game to (which was down yesterday).

    –Blizzard flirting with the use of RealID and then backpedaling when met with a justified wave of disgust.

    –Blizzard only releasing a third of the game in this package.

    –Blizzard refusing to support LAN play (the best feature of the first game).


    I’m sure I’m missing some things, but you can see Bobby Kotick’s grubby mitts all over this one.

  16. 0
    Hackangel says:

    On my end, it has to do with:

    -Blizzard’s lousy customer service/EULA.

    -Activision threatening legal action about a Rock Band patch that would have permitted the use of the Guitar Hero 3’s Les Paul controller with Rock Band on the PS3, despite it was working on the Xbox 360 and that the Rock Band Stratocaster worked with Guitar Hero 3.

    -Activision threatening legal action against Double Fine and EA when they planned to release Brutal Legend, despite  Activision scrapping the publishing of the game as it was not "exploitable" enough.

    -Bobby Kotick’s general attitude toward the general game consumers market

    -The whole mess with Infinity Ward.

    -There are more but etc.

    I have not bought a single Activision Blizzard game in years and I don’t plan to until they make some changes to the benefit of the gamers. Even if I am a great fan of the first Starcraft.



  17. 0
    Natas_Enasni says:

    You were for RealID?  Did you just want to stalk women?  RealID was the most ridiculous idea ever concocted.  I wouldn’t be too concerned personally but we are talking about a game that people have DIED playing too long (WoW).  I would never ever ever EVER want my real name to be known by someone in that game… especially if I was female.

  18. 0
    BigRedNutcase says:

    – DRM Mechanism can be bypassed for those only interested in single player via Guest Accounts (there’s 3 per install so campaign progress from multiple users can be separated)

    – RealID backpedaling was IMO a bad move on Blizz’s part, I was for it. If you can’t say something in person, DON’T SAY IT ONLINE!

    – 1/3 of a series of games, not 1/3 of a full game. The full campaign was better than the entire campaign from either of the first two games IMO and you get the full multiplayer experience.

    – No LAN support, umm who the hell LANs these days? Other than small scale local tournies, the majority of the install base will have broadband connections at home. Not a single person I know wants/needs lan support and I play with people from NYC to Seattle down to Memphis.

  19. 0
    Thomas McKenna says:

    Announcing SC2 sales before Korean numbers are in, and claiming it’s lower than expected, is a dumb move.  Let’s see…the population of Korea is nearly 49 million, so SC2 sales are probably around 50.5 million.

    Joking aside, the 1.5 mil is probably doubled due to sales in Korea.

  20. 0
    Thomas McKenna says:

    Are you waiting to wait to play HL2 until all the episodes are released?  By your logic, it’s not a complete game until that happens.  Are you holding off on playing them because you fear your interest will wane?

    Comparatively, SC2 has 27 levels compared to SC’s 30.  SC2 has 4 levels dedicated for protoss play, as well.  It has multiple side missions and story lines, and many different mission types.  How exactly isn’t it a whole game?  They focused only on the terran to give a complete and thorough story, and they’ll release expansions which will provide the story for each race.  Just because the standard release of SC2 has only part of the entire story it’s an incomplete game?  Then the original wasn’t a complete game, as the story wasn’t resolved until the Brood War expansion.

    So we have game play that’s just as long as the original game, game play advances from the original, new features, butt loads of cinematics, and we haven’t even discussed the multiplayer yet, which is half, if not more, of the game.  Your complaint rings hollow.

  21. 0
    axiomatic says:

    I can wait for the complete game to release in a "game of the year" edition or something like that with all three campaigns in it. As it stands right now I fear my interest would wane waiting for the other campaigns to release. I see no reason to aggrevate myself with that nonsense.

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