What to expect from Starcraft this summer

July 27th is the 11th anniversary of Wings of Liberty and will also mark one year after Patch 5.0. Obviously expectations are low regarding Starcraft but I wanted to look at what is likely from my point of view.

What to expect from Blizzard development: Not much.(Surprise, surprise.) Their line about "Multiple points of entry" during their last investor call implies that they are strictly focused on franchises that have games available for multiple platforms and support multiple business models. So it could be a long time before Activision Blizzard announces a non-remake game that isn't tied to Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, or Warcraft. On top of that, they've managed to drive away almost all the lead developers who were ever involved with the first or second game. Starcraft is still a valuable brand and they still make money off it. Someday they are likely to slap the name on something, but not soon.

What to expect from Starcraft Remastered: It's been an interesting week as a patch recently broke text scrolling, messed up LAN connectivity, caused data errors, and brought up a message in Chinese reminding you not to play for over an hour. They've been doing fixes and rollbacks so who knows whether things are stable again. They are also still struggling to get the game to load on Macs with the new OS. It's been a long time since they mentioned anything about team matchmaking or selling console skins so it might be safe to assume that like SC2 it's not getting anymore paid content. The main focus is in South Korea and I get the feeling that players there were used to Blizzard not doing much and don't mind things shifting back to that place. We're getting close to the end of the season so we'll likely get more maps from ASL and some new ladder portraits.

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What to expect from Starcraft II: Things have calmed down since ESL helped get a new map pool out and the league placements seem to have been fixed. ESL is also working with TeamLiquid and Shopify to support tournaments and make sure new maps keep coming. Despite no more paid content we still see the occasional new portraits and I'm assuming there will be one for the 11th anniversary. Last holiday season there was no XP boost so I don't know how likely it is that we'll get any kind of bonus in Co-op around he anniversary. The party effects they applied to workers and town halls for previous anniversary don't seem that likely and a lot of people wouldn't miss them. Blizzard stated that they'd still release balance patches when necessary and we've seen balance changes for HotS and WC3R this year as well as a Diablo III balance PTR. So the idea of some small balance changes isn't as unlikely as people seem to think. I don't know who would be involved with making the changes but no one seems to know who was in charge of the in WC3R either. The new ladder season starts July 20th, not that long before the anniversary date but a couple weeks after ESL Masters Summer. Overall, it's probably best to just set your expectations low and see if they are exceeded.

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What to expect from Starcraft Merchandise: If you really want to spend money on Starcraft, merchandise is where you have to turn to these days. Dark Horse just released a huge replica of the Carrier with smaller ones up for preorder and with how well the Carrier and Battlecruiser replicas sold there's a good chance of a big Zerg unit like an Ultralisk. J!NX has been rereleasing a lot of Starcraft-themed clothes from earlier years. Books continue to rerelease under the Blizzard Legends publishing label with Starcraft: Ghost Academy: Volume 3 up next. The Blizzard Gear Store is featuring a special "Vault" each month for the rest of the year featuring collectibles and concept art and since there are eight spots and only six franchises a Starcraft month seems very likely.


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