If you're a World of Warcraft subscriber you will get StarCraft II for free.. if you live in South Korea. Blizzard's promising RTS sequel is the greatest thing since sliced bread in the region, so the company has decided that WOW faithful deserve a reward. According to an IGN report Blizzard announced the news at a recent StarCraft II event in Seoul, South Korea to the delight of fans. The deal allegedly lasts as long as a player’s World of Warcraft account is active.
Lead producer Chris Sigaty said during the event that the move was "a way of giving something back to such a supportive and skilled community of players."
While this is a kind gesture on Blizzard's part, it is also a very clever way of further driving subscriptions for World of Warcraft. It would be fair to say that the StarCraft franchise enjoys ridiculous levels of popularity in the region, with shows dedicated to the game, multi-million dollar competitions televised on TV and Internet Cafes in the country driven by consumers who want to play.
A modified version of Blizzard’s StarCraft II has apparently made its way through Korea’s Games Rating Board (GRB) and earned a rating for gamers aged 12 and up.
This follows an earlier version of the game being branded with an adults only, or over 18, rating last month. 1UP, via a Team Liquid forum translation, indicates that Blizzard changed the color of in-game blood to black, removed vulgar language and exorcised smoking references in the game in order to achieve the lower age rating.
Blizzard may also consider releasing a separate version of StarCraft II that is aimed for adults only.
The game earned a “T” (Teen) rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
The forthcoming entry from the most popular game in Korea has received an adults-only rating from that country’s Games Rating Board (GRB).
Blizzard’s StarCraft II was designated for gamers 18 and over, and follows test, or release candidates, for the game previously earning ratings for the over 15 year old gaming crowd. The Korea Times speculated that the decision might have something to do with a push by the government to “improve gaming behavior and curb compulsive gaming and addictions,” versus the game’s actual content contributing to the rating.
In a statement, the GRB said, “Considering that the RC (release candidate) version of the game is closer to what will be sold on the shelves compared to the beta versions, we looked more carefully at the content.”
In a bid to limit the screen time of its young gamers, Korea has unveiled some drastic initiatives.
Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will try to block certain online games after midnight, reports the Korea Herald. Midnight, however, appears to be a generic term, as gamers will be able to choose their specific six-hour long gaming black-out period: 12AM – 6AM, 1AM - 7AM or 2AM - 8 AM. Under the plan, online access to massively multiplayer games would automatically shut off at the appointed time.
A secondary aspect of the policy would have the Internet speeds of young gamers throttled down if users remain online for a “lengthy” period of time. The slowdown policy is said to be in current testing on four online games, with plans to spread the procedure to 19 games in total in the second half of 2010.
The Ministry will also target young gamers who use the registration numbers of their parents in order to circumnavigate such restrictions.