I spent countless hours playing the original StarCraft. A buddy and I would stay up till the wee hours playing; our computers connected directly via over the phone dial-up. Our games were more often then not ended by our parents yelling at us to get off. We were tying up the phones, "What if someone had to call us in an emergency?!".
Since StarCraft 2 was announced I'd been desperately trying to get into the beta. Last month, when GameStop started offering beta keys to all pre-orders, was the first chance I had to play.
I put some serious time in. The game is solid, it feels like an old friend. Even in beta form SC2 has more polish than most games that have been released for months. Game companies could learn a thing or two about attention to detail and release quality standards from Blizzard. Of course, Blizzard having a cash cow like World of Warcraft probably helps.
Even with all the quality, I won't be purchasing StarCraft 2.
Three weeks I've been playing StarCraft 2. Lately when I think about sitting down for a game, I start making up excuses.
"Why play? Your odds of winning a game are 50-50. What's the fun of that?" Blizzard can take some of the blame here. They're new matchmaking system dynamically moves you up and down the ranks until it finds you a home. A home where you lose exactly half your games. I understand the competitive mindset that the StarCraft franchise has earned, but what percentage of the gamer base really plays for the competition?
"Why play? Your next game is going to be just like your last. Build a SCV at x level supply, a supply depot at y, get those reapers and attack." Competition is what its all about. You don't want to lose do you? As with any game, certain builds are more effective than others. If you don't use these builds then you're asking to get steamrolled.
You might say: "This is a beta!" Indeed it is, but the bones of the game are there. Blizzard isn't going to change any of the basic game play characteristics now. They're just looking to fine tune the balance.
You might say: "You're forgetting all about the single player game!" This is true. The short teasers of the single play story do look amazing. Is the story $50 amazing? I'm leaning towards no.
This series of small complaints pile up to a bigger issue. The fun and novelty of the game wear off fast. Its great fun for your first dozen battles. Then the "correct" builds start to become your bread and butter. You get mad when someone wins with "cheese" tactics. Eventually when you think about playing, you realize it's more stressful than fun.
I adore StarCraft and wish I had a solution to bring casual gamers like myself into the fold. But I'm not sure it can be done with SC2. Ironically, If it weren't for the beta, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to test drive StarCraft and realize it wasn't for me. I'm not worried about the game's success, it will be hugely successful without my dollars. I'm worried about future games and weather I'm still the target audience.