Many gamers probably thought that they’d never see the day. Thankfully, though, it turns out that Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is no Duke Nukem Forever; the game will officially hit New Zealand shelves on July 27th.
It’s the sequel to one of the most popular and critically acclaimed real-time strategy games of all time. Starcraft has sold in excess of 11 million copies since its release on the Windows platform in 1998, placing it among the highest-selling titles for PC in history. The game has a particularly obsessive fanbase in South Korea, where professional Starcraft players are considered to be celebrities and competitive matches are broadcast over three television networks to this day. One player, Lee Yun-Yeol, once reported earnings in 2005 of over $US200,000 (approximately $NZ277,500) in sponsorships, tournament prizes and endorsements, thanks to a career as a professional Starcraft player. As recently as April of this year a cheating scandal was revealed, with some of the game’s most famous players reportedly throwing matches and leaking information to illegal betting syndicates.
However, despite the overwhelming popularity of the franchise, Starcraft II has encountered a surprising number of hurdles on its road to release, with its initial development dating back to 2003. The most commonly cited reason for the delays is that, on more than one occasion, developers working on the game were reassigned to help out with another of developer Blizzard’s blockbuster titles (World of Warcraft – you may have heard of it).
Starcraft II will effectively release over three instalments, with Wings of Liberty eventually followed by two expansions: Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void.