Time for a study in game mythology:
The statement ‘Dead game’ in relation to Starcraft Two pops up quite often, usually to refer to the number of twitch viewers and actual players being low/decreased. But how accurate is that statement really, has the Starcraft Two scene ever ‘died’?
Well I suppose that largely depends on how you would clarify a dead game. I’ve most often heard it bandied about when referring to multiplayer games that simply don’t have the sustainable player base. It is certainly true that when compared to games like World of Warcraft, League of Legends and more recently Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds, Starcraft Two has a small player/viewer base. When compared to games like WoW or Overwatch it isn’t anywhere near to Blizzard Entertainments most popular game either. Does this mean it is dead or dying as a scene, I would argue that it doesn’t.
To try and convince those of you that are sceptical, I’m going to look at a few different aspects of the Starcraft Two: Legacy of the Void scene. Lets start with game modes.
Historically the biggest problem with Starcraft Two was the soul crushing ladder system. Combine this with the steep learning curve and non existent margin for error and you have a system that will simultaneously limit your player base and actively discourage a portion of your fans.
The campaigns by comparison have always been enjoyable, with units you can modify, well loved and iconic characters and a more laid back experience they were on to a winner. But what to do when you’ve beaten the campaign, achievement hunting will only get you so far and the ladder system isn’t enjoyable for you? That’s the rub, until the latest expansion there wasn’t anything unless you really liked the arcade. Well that’s not true any more.
Fans of the campaign style format have been rewarded with CO-OP commanders. Essentially a multiplayer campaign map; you can sink hours into this mode. This has given returning players something other than ladder to enjoy about the game and low wait times for a map suggest it is extremely popular. Blizzard have also released Archon mode, a game style in which two players command a single base, this is also fun and has the potential to be mayhem.
The effect this has had along with some of Blizzards older initiatives like ‘Spawning’ is a focus on playing with friends that the game lacked for a long time. Now with active EXP boosts for playing with your friends and new game modes to explore the problem of the game being a crushing single-player experience would seem largely to have been solved. I can’t speak to figures around player base retention but the changes in Legacy of the Void gave the game a different outlook whilst retaining the keen competition of the single-player ladder.