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I have only pirated one game in my life. I had picked up the Xbox version of the Star Wars game Republic Commando, expecting it to work in my new Xbox 360. That’s when I discovered that the 360 hadn’t been updated yet such that Republic Commando was backwards-compatible, and there was no information about when the next title update was coming which would allow me to play the game. Angry and frustrated, I downloaded a copy of Republic Commando for PC from a bit torrent site. Just a few days later, the Xbox 360 received the needed update to allow me to play the console version, and I deleted the pirated PC version from my hard drive.

The only way I was able to deal with the qualms of Catholic conscience generated by pirating Republic Commando was that, in my mind, I’d already given the appropriate parties my money for the privilege of playing the game – and I was angry. It’s easy to justify this sort of thing when you’re angry.

I was discussing Starcraft II with a friend last night, and he told me that it wasn’t a game he’d be willing to buy, but he might pirate it. As the owner of copyrighted material, myself (a trio of screenplays written in my sordid youth), I am generally in favor of the arguments against piracy. Anyone who works hard to produce a product should be paid for the right to use said product.  In this case, however, I found it difficult to chastise my friend, because I understand his perspective.

I had Starcraft II in my hand last night, and I couldn’t pull the trigger on the purchase. Paying $60 for a PC title bothers me a little. There has always been something very satisfying about paying $10 less for games which often would have better graphics or deeper gameplay than console titles. I’m a cross-platform gamer, which means I dip from all the attitude pools; and there was something smugly pleasant about paying less and getting more.

Considering all the reports about the quality of Starcraft II, I could have stomached $60…but then I thought about those missing Zerg and Protoss campaigns. I’m into Starcraft for the lore, and the story. I actually owned the original three Starcraft figures (and sold them for a pretty penny on eBay recently). The cutscenes and little video clips were the best part of Starcraft for me. I didn’t have time to learn all the strategies and nuances of the game which were required to be successful in the multiplayer, and I have even less of that time now…and a great many more games to play. My stack of PS3 and Wii titles for these two new-to-me consoles keeps getting distressingly higher.

Edge magazine spoke to Starcraft II’s lead software engineer Carl Chimes about the decision to go with a Terran-only campaign:

“You’re calling the next two parts expansions, but each one focuses on a different race in single player – why did you decide to split the game up like this?

“CC Early on in the development of StarCraft II, we realised that we wanted to make the story so epic that it just wouldn’t fit in one box. So we had a number of choices and ultimately we decided to split that campaign up into three equally epic stories and deliver those as the base game in each of the expansions. Wings Of Liberty will focus on the Terrans, and future expansions will focus on the Zerg and Protoss.”

I have trouble with a line like “wouldn’t fit in one box.” PC games have frequently come on more than one disc.  Knights of the Old Republic came with 4. Blizzard really couldn’t have delivered the entire campaign experience in this release? Even if Blizzard claims that being tied to Activision doesn’t change its culture as a developer, that is a separate issue than their behavior as a company.

It’s not that I was surprised by the knowledge that I was only getting 1/3 of the story…but there’s no news as to when Heart of the Swarm will be released, and Legacy of the Void might not be out for years.

We’ve been told that they will be priced as expansions, but when the main game is now $60 what does that mean? $40 per expansion? Potentially $140 for the full experience I think deserved to be the baseline product? Blizzard had 12 years to develop this game, more than enough time to work on all three campaigns and release them simultaneously. I’m not sure that there’s really any excuse for holding back on the other two campaigns other than pure greed. I try to be fair in assessing the conduct of corporations, because they aren’t charities and deserve to profit by their efforts. This feels excessive, however.

Some reviewers care so little about the missing campaigns that they don’t even mention it, and others only give the consideration a passing nod. I read that there are allusions to be made to Wing Commander, and a 16-hour campaign is quite reasonable, considering that many $60 console titles can have campaigns that last only half as long…but it seems as though the majority of the value for Wings of Liberty is the multiplayer and, neither of which hold other than passing interest for me.

I’m still going to buy Starcraft II, because I write about video games and this is one of those titles that simply must be played considering all the press it is going to generate for quite some time, but I can also write the purchase off on my taxes as a work expense. If I wasn’t writing about video games I wouldn’t feel this sense of immediacy, and the need to experience the game with as little outside tainting of opinion as possible.

If I was just coming at it as a gamer, however, I might wait for the price to come way down. I can understand why some people are going to pirate this particular title. When Blizzard starts talking like a proper corporation, which is to say, issuing silly statements about mistakes being proof of success, and hiking up prices, they begin to feel a little slimy to me, and that’s when I start finding it difficult to feel bad for the actions of the pirates. I don’t condone what they do…but in this instance, I would understand it.

  1. As someone that studies a lot of economic theory, for the most part I agree with you on the effects of copyright infringement (the proper term for piracy). Nevertheless, I am amazed at the potential cost of this game especially when, as you said, the focus seems to be on the multiplayer. I have to wonder what that supposedly $100M budget was spent on, with an already outdated graphics engine (not a major deal for me, but a deal-breaker for some) and a quite possibly unnecessary price hike. It’s almost an exact parallel of the things Activision is trying to pull with DLC, and that makes me nervous.

    Someone might very well torrent this game for moral reasons or for financial reasons. I’m not going to torrent it at all, but I will be waiting for a lower-priced copy to appear. And if the account locking and other assorted supply barriers prevent such things from happen, well, I may not buy it at all. I’m not obligated to pay Blizzard anything, and I can just go back to Supreme Commander 2 while I wait for Civilization V and whatever else is waiting in the wings to release.

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  2. avatar Filipe

    You are such a damn liar. This article is ruined with your first paragraph. Only pirated once in your life? Bullshit.

    • It’s like you’re trying your best to start the biggest argument you can without actually discussing what the article is about. Good job.

    • I know tons of people who don’t pirate. It’s not unbelievable if you are older, and grew up before pirating was big, then got a good job so you could pay for your hobbies.

      Pirating only really blew up on consoles around the PS1 era.

    • avatar RDOTEDAWG


  3. avatar Aristabulus

    Filipe: I know him IRL, and he has no problem spending money on his chosen hobbies. He is also one of the few sincere people I’ve met in this age of spin.

    Check thy head, sir.

  4. Indeed, if I sold my Star Wars collection alone I could afford to put my kid through college. At Harvard. *grin*

  5. avatar zEwt

    you cannot play single player or against AI without connecting to battle net… im sure there will be a cracked version out there somewhere soon to play single player and campaign without being online… but… that’s not even the real fun part of the game… the fun part is playing with friends online and playing against others..

  6. avatar zEwt

    also.. im sure the expansions with the other races will include some very interesting new units.. otherwise.. i could care less about playing campaigns.

  7. I’m sure that anyone who pirates Wings of Liberty will also pirate the expansions, as well, so they’ll get all those interesting new units. :)

    I got my copy of the game last night and had time to run through some skirmishes before going to sleep. It’s the same old Starcraft, just with some new units. It literally looks like they laid a new skin over the old code.

    That’s not entirely a bad thing…but the gameplay isn’t fresh. The story would have been.

  8. avatar Kamanashi

    People who complain about how SC2 is coming out are the same ones who will go out and by the multiple expansions for Warhammer 40k without a second thought. These articles are made to get people riled up and to link them so the authors of said articles get more Ad income.

    • Oh, you have no idea. I will get so rich off this article that I can afford to retire. I have the island picked out already. I’ll post some pictures up after the sale is complete. Closing on new property is a bitch. :(

    • avatar Seph

      Regardless of whether or not you’ll make any money from it it, the article is ridiculous.

      Honestly Dennis, you seem like a mildly intelligent person; do your arguments appear legitimate to you, or did you write this flamebait just to lure in comments?

      Also, maybe you shouldn’t be so smug to a reader who’s naive enough to think you might have been paid for this drivel.

  9. avatar anon

    why do u think that every game out is sponsored by hardware companies.. Nvidia (the way it meant to be played), ATI, Intel, Havok, etc??

    I just think that the system is all connected, they can’t stop piracy. btw now u don’t have to pay a dime for any game u just grab it from any torrent site. the big companies realized the impossibility of preventing piracy so they turned funding game developers and industry why? to make more games that need more powerful graphics, hardware and sometimes even software (win 7 for instance),

    so before u grab your next game from the internet and instead of paying its 60 $ u’re gonna give away a 300 for the new graphic card. and of course game industry gets a share of this… :)

  10. avatar Adam

    SC2 is one of the best games I have ever played I paid $150 for the CE and would happily pay that price for the next 2 expansions. Why you say, quality all you tight ass game reviews seem to lose yourself to the $$$ I like the idea of have 3 different version if this is an example of what the next 2 wuill be like I cannont wait. This is one of the best produced games ever made I will be playing it for YEARS TO COME. I will get alot more value out of this then most things I spend my money on. Ge

  11. avatar Stefan

    money comes and goes.. if you’re not blowing it on games which you love playing, you’re blowing it on other stupid shit.. gg

  12. avatar Anonymous

    I refuse to buy a game that is finished, over priced and has nazi DRM that disallows you to save game offline

  13. avatar GreyWolf

    To be fair though… The Campaign is at least the size of two of the campaigns from the first Starcraft, and if you add in all the challenge maps its size wouldnt be that far off single player content wise. I had no problem buying it because even if its just one campaign, its one bloody good campaign

  14. I must be the only gamer on the planet who thinks Starcraft 2 is a joke and not worth 20 dollars. It is a reskin with a couple new units that took 12 years and nazi DRM to rival anything previous. It doesn’t even include the campaign for the only race I liked. I played it in the past but never got why it was popular and it makes even less sense to me now.

    While I also do not support pirating I can definitely understand why someone would pirate this.

  15. avatar Mark

    Another decade for the expansions, thx Blizzard….

  16. @Seph – I take issue with people opining about something they know nothing about, especially in an accusatory fashion. In this case, how the video game press works. It’s the sort of tripe I see on N4G all the time.

    Indie sites don’t make a lot of money. No one writes for the indie press to get rich, or even to get paid at all. They do it for love of the writing, or dissatisfaction with not seeing certain topics covered by the corporate, enthusiast press.

    Kamanashi was wrong, but rather than launch into a soliloquy about how this industry functions, i.e. spoon-feeding him knowledge that he can go research for himself, I made a comment that I found, and continue to find, pretty hilarious. We’ve almost closed on that island, btw. Anyone want some free coconuts?

    Yes, my arguments seem perfectly legitimate to me. Blizzard focused heavily on the multiplayer component of Starcraft II, which some of us couldn’t care less about. Kotaku recently reposted an excellent piece about how the original Starcraft was ahead of its time in trying to tell a story; and now we’re only given 1/3 of that story? I find it difficult to believe that Blizzard, a studio which is known for delaying projects, couldn’t have taken some more time and made Zerg and Protoss campaigns for Starcraft II.

    I would prefer it if they came right out and said “It made more sense economically to produce the Zerg and Protoss campaigns as expansions than to invest that time and money into a product which would sell huge numbers without those campaigns.” That would be honest – but don’t feed me boldfaced bullshit about “We couldn’t fit it all into one box.” Yes they could have – they chose not to. Just say that!

    At some point, the video game media has to start calling developers and publishers on this sort of thing. Everyone’s terrified of losing their access…but if everyone started doing this simultaneously, no one would lose their access. The developers and publishers need the enthusiast press as much as the press needs the developers and publishers. The mainstream media could care less about video games. Without the enthusiast press, the developers and publishers can’t sell their products. It’s a much more equitable situation than the video game press realizes, but it would require change…and it’s always tough to motivate human beings to change unless they have no choice.

    So, enter the independent press. We say things that the professionals may be thinking, but cannot afford to write about. :)

    In any case, you’ve entirely missed the point of the article. It’s about validating complaints about the lack of those other two campaigns, because the press is glossing over them. It is legitimate criticism. Unfortunately, the corporate, enthusiast press rarely features criticism, they only do “reviews,” save for a few outlier sites like The Escapist.

    • Got any kiwis?

      And honestly, can you blame the man for what was, if anything, a less ridiculous post than the one he was replying to? I’m certain that most writers would have retired to a mental institution by now if they tried taking absolutely everything people said seriously.

    • avatar Seph

      I also take issue with people opining about things they know nothing about. In fact, thats why I chose to reply to your article.

      Suggesting that Starcraft 2: Wing’s of Liberty is “missing” the Zerg and Protoss campaigns is moronic. It’s like suggesting that Dawn of War II is incomplete without Eldar or Tyraid campaigns, or Halo: Reach is half a game without missions where you play as a Covenant Elite.

      I find it amazing that it’s so hard for you, an apparent Star Wars fan, to understand how or why a story might be penned as a trilogy. Did you bitch and moan about having to pay three times to see Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Back to the Future?

      You said yourself that, from what you’ve heard, the length and quality of Starcraft 2 is sufficient enough; so why doesn’t the discussion end there? If there’s clearly enough content in the package to justify a $60 price tag, then why are you writing this article?

      Really, if you wanted to bitch about Starcraft 2, why not start with one of the numerous legitimate complaints? Why not comment on the lack of LAN, the broken Custom Games list, or the remaining privacy issues with Real ID?

      My guess? Because you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

  17. @Seph – I don’t think your comparisons are apt and your logic is strained. The Terran, Protoss, and Zerg stories are inexorably intertwined. They are all part of one, large storyline. That was not true with Dawn of War – the campaigns may have had bookends that touch, but there were no real characters, no substantive story to be told like Raynor and Kerrigan’s. The apt comparison would be having a Halo game with Cortana but without Master Chief. The apt comparison would be having a Star Wars movie with a Rebellion and no Empire.

    Why not comment on the lack of a LAN or any of those other things? Because that wasn’t what this article was about.

  18. avatar Daniel Phillips

    “I’m not sure that there’s really any excuse for holding back on the other two campaigns other than pure greed.”
    How about keeping their staff employed with decent wages? Continuing new projects and keeping the servers smooth.

    “The cutscenes and little video clips were the best part of Starcraft for me. I didn’t have time to learn all the strategies and nuances of the game which were required to be successful in the multiplayer, and I have even less of that time now…”
    I love the story line but the meat of the game is RTS, it sounds like you are making an excuse for not being a skilled RTS player. You had 12 years to learn how to play starcraft, long enough to be able to jump in on SCII and hang.

  19. avatar Le John

    I’m starting to believe that anyone who says this is one of the greatest games I ever played either works for Blizzard or hasn’t played any games as of late at all. People are very passionate about defending SC2 its surprises me. Why would you even bother? Are you getting paid to do it? “Broadband connection required” but doesn’t say that on the outside of the box…remember FEAR 2? Something smells bad with Blizzard.

  20. avatar MegaPirate

    Starcraft 2 is not a great game at all… if you remove all the cg movies, the game is not much but a common game but plannified. Short campaign and bad OST. The original starcraft was way better.

    I have it PIRATED, yes pirated, like all the games i have in PC and Xbox (paying the access to internet is enough reason for not paying a shit for games, music and films, and if you don’t understand that, i must suppose you are not clever enough). Why pay 1€ when you can download it for free? i would be a stupid retard if i would have paid 60 euros for it. This game should be less than 20 euro (and still, i would not pay a shit for it when it’s free).

    I’m sure there will appear pirate servers to play some multiplayer. It’s a matter of time lol.

    I fell pity for those who paid more than 100 euros for the Collectors edition. I downloaded all the content of the CE, the ost in flac format, the Behind the scenes dvd, and the books/panflets scannned in ultraHQ.

    At the end, I saved a great amount money that is better used for other purposes. I don’t understand why people pay for games when they won’t play the multiplayer. To support the developers? LOL

    Each artist in blizzard earns around 100.000 dollars anually, they are rich! don’t make them richer when you only earn more than 1000 euro per month.

  21. avatar Kannon

    Wow, the idiocy of this is…inspiring.
    I absolutely agree with every single word the author has said. Do any of the haters even understand a hint of the topic?

    SC2′s story is incomplete! You are paying 60 dollars for a game whose quality is, well “cough*rehashed*cough”

    To those absolute morons comparing this to Dawn Of War, Dawn of war releases expansions. For those idiots who don’t understand the meaning of the word, it is up and above the original product. The product in this game is incomplete! Brood war was an expansion. Frozen throne was an expansion. This? This is just a joke.
    Of course Blizzard (might as well call it Activision) knew that there would be suckers who’d pay for the garbage they reproduce. And I mean that in the literal sense.

    Take SC1 and add in better graphics, you get SC2! Everything, top to bottom is rehashed. The only possible motive to get this game (one I share) is to know the damn story. And it’s incomplete! I mean screw you!

    I was a sucker to buy it but I’m encouraging my friends to pirate this shit. (21 so far)
    And just so you know, I bought the legitimate copy of Braid and loved it. That’s a game that deserves its price, not this piece of shit.

    P.S: Thank you Dennis fir having the guts to write such a great article. Maybe other journalists will learn and grow a pair.

  22. avatar GreyWolf

    But… the story isnt incomplete? You could take this completely as a standalone story/game and it would work just as well as it’s currently set up. This is not one third of a story its one third of a trilogy and there is the difference. And to MegaPirate, seriously? Just because you can ‘get it’ for free means you always will. Do you ‘get’ your food for free cos you can? or your clothes? Are you a kleptomaniac or do you only steal games because your not afraid of getting caught?

  23. avatar Le John

    uh…so where did my comments go? still in moderation? I hope it wasn’t deleted like most of my bad SC2 reviews due to Activision’s CEO preventing any bad reviews from posting….

  24. avatar rummy

    on the topic of capitalizing on a loyal, nostalgic and disposable-income-having demographic of the gaming community… well, yeah, i agree it’s fine. its business. kudos to blizzard for knowing their target audience. however, to say that one game was split into 3 because each leg of the story became just too much is a far cry from releasing one game and two further expansions to the story. either way that’s still business but its less honest. if their standards are slipping integrity-wise i can’t help but forever after wonder the same about their quality standards.

    ignoring the conspiracy theories, i’ll wait and watch out for a bundle deal at zerg release time. deal with the drm and lack of lan then…

    @Dennis Scimeca – you’ve fielded some rough replies here and i just want to say please don’t let them vote you onto the island. i don’t read much gamer press (why did i let sc2 suck me in??) but i will now search yours out in the future. gj ;)

    @GreyWolf – mega basically says that someone who works hard to become skilled doesn’t deserve to have that skill rewarded. no skill, no cool games, yatta yatta… since he himself isn’t displaying any skill at logic or social awareness maybe you shouldn’t give the troll a handout.

  25. avatar wayne of the whisperers

    i am a confesed pirate, but have reformed since the discovery of steam. with that being said, when i see a game that blizzard puts out for 60 bucks and from what i can tell that the only things they have worked on is
    1 a new campain, whitch only 1/3 is being released at this time,
    2 new units for each race
    3 slightly improved graphics from the first game that came out before 2000

    now there was no new race to choose from or no mod tools other than the map maker. i cant justify buying this game. i once respected blizzard, but i see why most of there talent have left.

    i wont torrent this game, mostely cuz im sure that they have a whole new department dedicated to tracking down ppl who do pirate the game.

    also makes me wonder how they will market diablo 3, i recommend for 80 bucks a black box that contains the game playable through 1 of the 8 or so characters, and what ever character you get is completely random. and on top of that, they make you pay 15 bucks a month X the amount of mana u used.

  26. The people who say SC2 is SC1 with updated graphics and a few new units obviously haven’t put much time in with the game. There are hundreds of changes and additions to the core gameplay as well as a host of other features.

    For those of you complaining that this is only 1/3rd of a game, this is just the first part of a very big story, just like the original Starcraft and Broodwar were in separate parts. Blizzard have always come out with expansions after the initial release and there’s enough content in Wings of Liberty to completely justify the purchase. Blizzard have always done right by their fans, and I have no doubt the two expansions will be worth the price as well.

    If you don’t want to buy the game that’s fine, but there’s zero justification for pirating it. There’s obviously been a huge amount of time and care put into this game and games like these won’t get made if people don’t pay for them.

    • avatar Rupedium

      This is just the next step in what used to be absurd box art and exsivclue screenshots. Virtually every broadly-applicable video game complaint I’ve had in the last 10 years, was summarized . The relevant portion: How can there still be gamers taken in by EXCLUSIVE SCREENSHOTS [or these videos] of games that . . . have NO connection with what the actual game will look like? . . . Chances of that happening are directly proportional to whether or not you’ll stop falling for it. Myself? I hate them the practice is totally scummy, but I’m sure it isn’t going to stop. a0|a0

  27. avatar P.S

    I really like it . Thanks for your post .

  28. avatar Colin

    I agree with Jason Anton. The people who say SC2 is SC1 with updated graphics have a very shallow understanding of the games. To name one of a vast pool of examples, I doubt these people are capable of understanding how the fact that marines no longer have a range upgrade makes a gigantic difference in gameplay. Or how helpful it is to now have tabs with your control groups on them. What has changed about Starcraft are the very strategies and tactics employed by the player to defeat the enemy. What has remained the same is the art theme, and overall style of play. Now that I think about it, Blizzard has done a virtuoso job of creating a game that is not only new, but one that retains a reference point to the original.

    For those people who don’t care about the online, I would say go ahead and pirate it. For those who want to play online, buy it. Blizzard has worked very hard to create a fun and refined online experience.

    I’d also like to state that I feel those people who berate Blizzard for splitting up the game into three expansions are assuming that Blizzard isn’t going to add any other new content with the package other than the campaign. Like, say, new units and new challenges. Not only that, but Blizzard has stated that the expansions won’t cost anywhere near the amount of the Wings of Liberty package.

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  29. avatar Pirate McCrackey

    I have bought only one game in my whole life.
    Orange Box it is. (a compilation actually) I don’t regret it.

    Buying games isn’t a part of my culture (Bosnia) and you have to respect different cultures. ROFL

    Actually I started playing games when piracy was booming and it’s unusual to see originals being bought.

    First games our cafe bought was also Bliizards W3;TFT… because it was necessary for bnet.
    And with reasonable pricing it’s ok to buy.

    But the big names ask to much money.. that’s the main problem.

  30. avatar Pirate McCrackey

    to continue..

    Piracy or not.
    I never liked taking games too seriously and being called a “gamer” – ouch

    It’s supposed to be the thing to do when you are bored.. and it should not cost much!!!
    Hence I don’t understand collector’s editions etc.

    No matter how fun they get they can’t be compared to other “media” as music, movies, books (anyone) and should not be taken serioulsy/payed big cash for.

  31. avatar Psycho

    You must buy the game because you are a games journalist?

    Sure dude, whatever you say to justify the urge. :D

  32. avatar Pooja

    I can agree with that senetmtat Lexicorro. But I think it applies more to less constructive posters on the forums. Many armchair designers, whose blogs I read, have shown to have quite an good idea about separating these two.

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