Why should StarCraft 2 expansions cost 60 bucks?

Simply because they can get away with it. 
 
That wasn't joke, but let's elaborate on that a bit. Blizzard said that the expansions will be out no early than a year after Wings of Liberty/Heart of the Swarm. Ok, we know Blizzard - no way this will be true. My personal guess is that both of them (HotS and Legacy of the Void) will take at least two years to make. I would guess that Legacy of the Void will take two years at maximum, but Heart of the Swarm at least two years. 
 

Heart of the Swarm 

 
Dustin Browder and Chris Sigaty said in 14th edition of BlizzCast, that they will be making not only balance and bug fixing patches, but also content patches for the game. And that there is one really huge content patch in the works and will be released later this year. Of course that not everyone on StarCraft 2 development team will work only on content patches, but those will take a lot of people and a lot of time and testing. And Wings of Liberty needs a lot of balance patches. 
 
So I wouldn't put my money on a really heavy development of Heart of the Swarm in this second half of 2010. Preproduction yes, beginning of production yes, but nothing heavy. 2011 will be the heavy duty year for Heart of the Swarm. Internal testing and public beta will take place in first half of 2012 and it will be probably released in the second half of 2012. That's two and half years. 
 
2 and a half years is a plenty of time to hype this expansion like hell. After that, it won't be approached as expansion, but as whole new full retail release. And there goes your sixty bucks. It will be talked as full retail release, it will be promoted as one and at the end of the day, you will be convinced. There goes you sixty. 
 

Legacy of the Void 

 
After the release of Heart of the Swarm in second half of 2012, the real serious work on this third expansion will be taking place in 2013. And I'm confident that Blizzard can manage to finish and release this one in 2014. No doubt about it. Again, enough time to hype this one as full retail release that is worth you hard earned sixty bucks.  
 
But that's not all. They will make you to buy Heart of the Swarm. They have to. So you will buy it and than only crazy gamer wouldn't buy the last one. The story will end in Legacy of the Void, everything will conclude and there will be of course new units, maps and so on. So you will have to have this one. 
  

That's 180 bucks, thank you 

 
Epic campaings of same length, new units, new maps, new features, conclusion of story and best of all - only by owning all three will you have the "complete" and final StarCraft 2 with everything in it. And don't forget that those two expansions will keep developers busy for at least 4 years, so it just can't cost 30 bucks. Try count Call of Duty titles in the last 4 years. See? 
 

One last thought

 
It just crossed my mind and there might be something about it - you probably know, that in some countries (Russia, Latin America etc.) StarCraft 2 multiplayer is "sold" via subscriptions, like MMO games. StarCraft 2 itself is a bit cheaper and than you pay some low amount of money every month to play the game over Battle.net. Of course you can buy a bit more expensive version of SC2 with unlimited free Battle.net. But you know - maybe, just maybe it will be 60 bucks, so Battle.net doesn't have to be subscription service with monthly fees. So maybe those full prices can be looked at as some kind of compensation. Or maybe not. 
 
Either way you have plenty of time to save the remaining 120 bucks for those two expansions.
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Posted by Overwatch

Simply because they can get away with it. 
 
That wasn't joke, but let's elaborate on that a bit. Blizzard said that the expansions will be out no early than a year after Wings of Liberty/Heart of the Swarm. Ok, we know Blizzard - no way this will be true. My personal guess is that both of them (HotS and Legacy of the Void) will take at least two years to make. I would guess that Legacy of the Void will take two years at maximum, but Heart of the Swarm at least two years. 
 

Heart of the Swarm 

 
Dustin Browder and Chris Sigaty said in 14th edition of BlizzCast, that they will be making not only balance and bug fixing patches, but also content patches for the game. And that there is one really huge content patch in the works and will be released later this year. Of course that not everyone on StarCraft 2 development team will work only on content patches, but those will take a lot of people and a lot of time and testing. And Wings of Liberty needs a lot of balance patches. 
 
So I wouldn't put my money on a really heavy development of Heart of the Swarm in this second half of 2010. Preproduction yes, beginning of production yes, but nothing heavy. 2011 will be the heavy duty year for Heart of the Swarm. Internal testing and public beta will take place in first half of 2012 and it will be probably released in the second half of 2012. That's two and half years. 
 
2 and a half years is a plenty of time to hype this expansion like hell. After that, it won't be approached as expansion, but as whole new full retail release. And there goes your sixty bucks. It will be talked as full retail release, it will be promoted as one and at the end of the day, you will be convinced. There goes you sixty. 
 

Legacy of the Void 

 
After the release of Heart of the Swarm in second half of 2012, the real serious work on this third expansion will be taking place in 2013. And I'm confident that Blizzard can manage to finish and release this one in 2014. No doubt about it. Again, enough time to hype this one as full retail release that is worth you hard earned sixty bucks.  
 
But that's not all. They will make you to buy Heart of the Swarm. They have to. So you will buy it and than only crazy gamer wouldn't buy the last one. The story will end in Legacy of the Void, everything will conclude and there will be of course new units, maps and so on. So you will have to have this one. 
  

That's 180 bucks, thank you 

 
Epic campaings of same length, new units, new maps, new features, conclusion of story and best of all - only by owning all three will you have the "complete" and final StarCraft 2 with everything in it. And don't forget that those two expansions will keep developers busy for at least 4 years, so it just can't cost 30 bucks. Try count Call of Duty titles in the last 4 years. See? 
 

One last thought

 
It just crossed my mind and there might be something about it - you probably know, that in some countries (Russia, Latin America etc.) StarCraft 2 multiplayer is "sold" via subscriptions, like MMO games. StarCraft 2 itself is a bit cheaper and than you pay some low amount of money every month to play the game over Battle.net. Of course you can buy a bit more expensive version of SC2 with unlimited free Battle.net. But you know - maybe, just maybe it will be 60 bucks, so Battle.net doesn't have to be subscription service with monthly fees. So maybe those full prices can be looked at as some kind of compensation. Or maybe not. 
 
Either way you have plenty of time to save the remaining 120 bucks for those two expansions.
Posted by Hitchenson

I doubt it's going to take that long for them to release two expansions. After all, the main game, code etc. is done now, they're merely building upon the top of it. 
 

Posted by JeffGoldblum

I'm guessing they will be $40 at the most.

Posted by hedfone

the next one wont come out for another six years so, no worries

Posted by Overwatch
@Hitchenson said:
" I doubt it's going to take that long for them to release two expansions. After all, the main game, code etc. is done now, they're merely building upon the top of it. 
 
"
Yeah I know, but they also said that both expansions will be radically different in their singleplayer parts - gameplay of those "meta games" will be really different, not just another Jimmy running around Hyperion buying tech. So it will take some time for them until they can find a way to do it right.
Posted by Semition
@JeffGoldblum said:
" I'm guessing they will be $40 at the most. "
If they require Wings of Liberty then that's probably true.  But if it has a system like Guild Wars where each campaign is standalone and gives access to the multilayer, then I can see it being $60.
Posted by Rehehelly

I couldn't care less if they're all £40 each new, I can see myself having has good a time as I am now with wings of liberty, plus I can foresee Heart of the Swarm taking one and a half years to 2 years and i'll easily recoup £40 by then. 
 
Blizzard can have my money!

Posted by KaosAngel

...hopefully they put in the chat channels and region free zone by then.   >.>

Posted by apoptosis61

cause sheeps will buy it

Posted by Overwatch
@KaosAngel said:
" ...hopefully they put in the chat channels and region free zone by then.   >.> "
I don't think that it will be ever region free, but I would love to have LAN support. Hope they will add it after they sell a lot of copies of the last expansions. If it ain't there because of piracy, they could add it in future. Fingers crossed!
Posted by ComradeKritstov
Posted by KaosAngel
@Overwatch: All of this came down to Koreans not paying royalty fees to Blizzard for the past 8 years.  Kinda sad if you really think about it.  -_-
Posted by Overwatch
@ComradeKritstov said:
" They said awhile back that they would be priced as expansions, who knows if they have changed their minds since then. 
 
http://www.starcraft-source.com/article/news/view/?id=261 "
Oh, thank you for that link, how could I missed that info? But I still doubt it will be priced 30 or 40 bucks. We'll see.
Edited by Tabarnaco

$120 for one game is still expensive, and that's being really optimistic. It will probably be somewhere around $150. And if one has to own the first game to play the other races' campaigns, then it's even worse, because we won't even have the choice to pay less and get the content we want.
Then there's that shit with Premium multi player content.
 
One can hardly justify the cost of the game with the cost of Battle.net. Steam's free, Windows Live's free, why should Blizzard get a special treatment? They're just greedy as hell, they have plenty of cash to pay for their servers and then build a thousand pools filled with $100 bills.

Posted by guiseppe

I don't think they'd have a 2 year waiting period for each expansion. That sounds insane to me, but then again we're talking about Blizzard. Even if it will be 2 years between each, $180 isn't a whole lot of money spent over 4 years.

Posted by CaptainObvious

I think you guys are a bit exaggerating. They can make WoW expansions on time, so I assume they can do the same with Starcraft II.

Posted by august
@CaptainObvious said:
" I think you guys are a bit exaggerating. They can make WoW expansions on time, so I assume they can do the same with Starcraft II. "
Yeah, I agree. They've already got the engine up and running, all the plot planned out, etc.
Posted by Overwatch
@CaptainObvious said:
" I think you guys are a bit exaggerating. They can make WoW expansions on time, so I assume they can do the same with Starcraft II. "
Didn't they told everyone that they want to release one expansion for WoW every year? Let me see - Burning Crusade January 2007, Wrath of the Lich King November 2008, Cataclysm probably end of 2010. That doesn't seem like one year gap between expansions. And I really don't belive, that they are able to release Heart of the Swarm next year.
Posted by VisariLoyalist

I agree that they shouldn't be 60 bucks, maybe 40 bucks since all you're getting is new campaigns while the online is the same. Honestly I think you'll see a lot of people skip the expansions because they came for only one reason which is the online. Which makes me think that from a business perspective maybe they should have a subscription for the online of starcraft 2 even though I know noone wants that.

Posted by Malchom

Nice blog!
 
I find myself to be fairly optomistic about the release times for these expansions. Comparing these expansions to WoW expansions is wrong to me... An MMO like WoW is a lot more complex on several different levels than an RTS like Starcraft if you compare player per instance, scale, maps, content, synchronization etc... Making gameplay changes and adding areas to an MMO is a lot more complicated than making a new map or unit in Starcraft. I know it's a simplistic way of seeing this but I build games and software myself so it makes sens to me...
 
Like some said before me on your thread, the basic framework for the game is done. If you attended last year's Blizzcon, the pannel on the map creator for this game showed that it is exhaustive and you can do a very huge shit load of different things with it that doesn't require heavy code rewriting.  The only thing I see taking more time than they expect is changing the mechanics between missions (unless they've prepared tools for that as well). On a positive note, setbacks mean they change stuff, and change is often a consequence of making new stuff, so if they delay then we can theorize it's because they are making cool new features!
 
All in all, I wouldn't be surprise if they take a bit more time to produce than they anticipated but I'm pretty sure these expansions will be here shortly, before the end of 2013 in my mind!
  

Posted by ch13696

Aren't we all forgetting that Activision is also running this? It's going to be $60. I have money on this. So what I'm going to do is be a real PC gamer and wait for the price to drop down to $50. I don't care if it takes years. It's the principal.

Posted by Overwatch
@Malchom: Unfortunately I haven't been on last year's BlizzCon, but I watched every video and read almost everything about it. I remember what they were talking about the map editor and other stuff. But like I said before, they said that both expansions will be radicaly different from each other. And I don't think they have figured aout much of Heart of the Swarm yet. Storywise yes, of course. 
 
I know MMO is much more complex beast compared to singleplayer RTS, but hey, this is Blizzard. And that is the bottom line :). One look on their develepment times and you know you can't trust them with their early releasy intentions :). 
 
And btw. thank you, glad you enjoyed it.
Posted by SJSchmidt93

HotS will probably be this time next year and LoTV this time the next year.
 
I hope.

Posted by Feanor

Warcraft 3 was 60 bucks, and Frozen Throne was 40. I wouldn't worry.

Posted by Overwatch
@Feanor said:
" Warcraft 3 was 60 bucks, and Frozen Throne was 40. I wouldn't worry. "
Yeah, but that was a long time ago. Things have changed since then. Gaming industry changed since 2003.
Edited by empfeix
@Semition said:

" @JeffGoldblum said:

" I'm guessing they will be $40 at the most. "
If they require Wings of Liberty then that's probably true.  But if it has a system like Guild Wars where each campaign is standalone and gives access to the multilayer, then I can see it being $60. "
I assume they will take this approach just like Relic has been doing for a long time now.  Release expansions as stand alone copies that do not need the original.  Because of this I'd bet on full price since they would be giving you all the multiplayer content.  Kinda sucks for people who will buy all three though. 
 
You know what though, now that I think about it.  They know demand is high for this game, if they release as a traditional expansion they may be better off sales wise instead.  Ok wait.... since the next game will have multiplayer additions I doubt blizz would allow someone just buy that copy and get all the new MP features and skip buying wings of liberty. 
 
Ok im convinced that they will release them as expansions thus increasing profits and making people buy all copies to get the latest MP content.  Then profiting on the tried tested and true battle chest for the next decade :P (although I wouldn't bet against full price 60 dollar expansions)
Posted by Feanor
@Overwatch: WoW expansions were 40 bucks
Posted by Overwatch
@Feanor said:
" @Overwatch: WoW expansions were 40 bucks "
Ok, got me :). Can't say anything about that.
Posted by empfeix
@Overwatch said:
" @Feanor said:
" @Overwatch: WoW expansions were 40 bucks "
Ok, got me :). Can't say anything about that. "
They would rather sell it cheaper to get users to keep playing.  This is a no brainer when you pay to play the developer just wants you in there paying your monthly fee.  More money long term that way, this isnt really a good example.  Battle.net is free and as of right now they are making no extra money off users who buy the game.
Posted by threeve
@Overwatch:
 As long as we're making predictions:
 
I think the OP is dead wrong on all counts.  Expansions won't cost $60 and the first one will in fact be released next summer.  There will be no public beta unless new units appear which, of course is a possibility. 
I base this on Blizzard's history which you are doing as well, though your memory is short.  You assume that since it took 12 years to get a sequel it will in turn take a long time to get an expansion.   
Looking back a few years:  

Warcraft 2 - Dec. 1995, Beyond the Dark Portal - April 1996
Starcraft - released Feb. 1998,  Brood War - released Dec. 1998 
Diablo II - June 2000, Lord of Destruction - June 2001
Warcraft III - July 2002, Frozen Throne - July 2003 
 
I realize that in general development schedules have gotten longer, but I don't think that WoW is an applicable example for this.  It's a different animal altogether.
 
So again, I expect the zerg campaign to release in a year's time for let's say $40.  And as an aside let me comment I've never payed $60 for a video game, even right after release.  Even Xbox games can be had for $50 brand new if you know where to look within days of release.  Buying video games new is probably even worse than buying cars new.  They start losing value even before you unwrap them.  In fact I will probably have to buy a retail copy of Starcraft just so I don't have to pay full price for the digital copy.  Such is life.


 

 
Posted by empfeix
@threeve: thanks for that chart - very encouraging and interesting to see the past timelines.
Posted by Overwatch
@threeve: Good theory, but I have to disagree. My memory isn't so short. I remember those games and I played them when they were released. But you definetly can't take development times of those games into this. Dev times have gotten mad longer. Really only Blizzard game you should compare this to is WoW expansions, because of their complexity and probalby similar dev time. They are present expansion, unline Brood War, Beyond the Dark Portal or Lord of Destruction.  
 
You are right, WoW is really very different animal, but it is the closest thing Blizzard has released since WarCraft 3. Even Warcraft 3 was 8 years ago, whitch is very long time in this industry. So therefore I compared it to WoW expansion, totally realising the difference between them. 
 
I have to agree with you, buying videogames new is really expensive hobby. But I don't think it's just about short term value. When you look at Blizzard games, you have a very long term value in them. I really don't regret buying any Blizzard game for the full price. They just last really long. I'm still playing the Original StarCraft and Diablo 2 with my friends over LAN sometimes. 
 
So even if you would pay 60 bucks for Wings of Liberty now, another 60 in two years for Heart of the Swarm and another one or two years after that 60 for Legacy of the Void, I don't think that woul be waste of money. Blizzard games have a great value, even in long term. Of course you can wait for some kind of Battle Chest edition, if it comes out. 
 
But I really wouldn't be surprised if both those expansion will cost us 60 bucks. Yes, you can hear Blizzard talk of them as expansions here and there, but many times they don't approach them as expansions, but rather as full retail game. But I hear your arguments and your point and you may be right. We'll see. I would of course love them to price both expansions 40 bucks. Who wouldn't? Just don"t think it's going to happen.
Posted by AuthenticM

When they first announced Starcraft 2, they said it would be 3 chapters. The two subsequent games (Zerg and Protoss) would be full-price and would not require the first game to play, as they would not be expansions. They would all ship with the same multiplayer, making them cross-compatible.

Posted by empfeix
@AuthenticM said:
" When they first announced Starcraft 2, they said it would be 3 chapters. The two subsequent games (Zerg and Protoss) would be full-price and would not require the first game to play, as they would not be expansions. They would all ship with the same multiplayer, making them cross-compatible. "
Makes sense except then the two next games (zerg and protoss) would then have to ship with all the units from the terran game for multiplayer then?  Therefor the last game to be released will have all the units from the entire three games for multiplayer -- sweet deal for those who wait I guess. 
Posted by Overwatch
Posted by Jeust
@Semition said:
" @JeffGoldblum said:
" I'm guessing they will be $40 at the most. "
If they require Wings of Liberty then that's probably true.  But if it has a system like Guild Wars where each campaign is standalone and gives access to the multilayer, then I can see it being $60. "
It will be 60$.
Edited by ryanwho

No. This is the main game and multiplayer. The expansions build on the main game and I can't imagine they would lock anyone out of multiplayer so nothing multiplayer exclusive will be in the expansions. So they should cost less. Unless they're just complete jackasses, new multiplayer units will be patched in for everyone in conjunction with the expansions, otherwise the whole thing would be unbalanced. On the other hand, Blizzard likes calling them "whole games".

Posted by DrPockets000

Blizzard will do whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want because they know all of you will buy it anyway.

Posted by Icil

Every single business decision Blizzard ever makes is based on the question:

Will this increase the value of the company stock for my shareholders?
 
Activision banks on 'yes' by means of the yearly franchise. I think they'll get these release dates on the dot, and Activision will release the expansions as is if they don't make the deadline. They did it for WoW's last expansion.
 
I remember when Blizzard really loved delaying games to refine them. At this point in Blizzard's life, I don't think you'll see a delay in a future release ever again (and they'll release a non-expansion every year).

Posted by KaosAngel
@Icil said:
" At this point in Blizzard's life, I don't think you'll see a delay in a future release ever again (and they'll release a non-expansion every year). "
All they got is Diablo III and that future MMO coming up, I don't think they'll be pumping out yearly games.  At the worst I see is this: 
 
2011 - Diablo III 
2012 - SC2 Zerg 
2013 - New MMO 
2014 - ???
Posted by EpicSteve

Let's wait until Blizzard actually talks specifics about the other two games.

Posted by Icil
@KaosAngel said:
"All they got is Diablo III and that future MMO coming up, I don't think they'll be pumping out yearly games.  At the worst I see is this:  2011 - Diablo III 2012 - SC2 Zerg 2013 - New MMO 2014 - ???"
I will cynically assume the worst scenario =)
 
Also, is anyone else as convinced as I am that the new MMO is WoW2? I dunno, I just feel like they won't abandon something like WoW after Cataclysm.
Posted by Overwatch
@Icil said:
" I remember when Blizzard really loved delaying games to refine them. At this point in Blizzard's life, I don't think you'll see a delay in a future release ever again (and they'll release a non-expansion every year). "
I wouldn't be that harsh. Blizzard devs still take their time. StarCraft 2 was in development since Frozen Throne (2003) and this version of Diablo 3 is in development since 2005, if I remeber this correctly. That's 7 years on one game. What other studio does something like this? Not very many...
Edited by Icil
@Overwatch said:

"I wouldn't be that harsh. Blizzard devs still take their time. StarCraft 2 was in development since Frozen Throne (2003) and this version of Diablo 3 is in development since 2005, if I remeber this correctly. That's 7 years on one game. What other studio does something like this? Not very many... "

I pretty much agree with you. I really love Blizzard and its workers; I think the "culprits" I speak of are a very few select people in Activision (probably executives). I think that Blizzard's only way to respond to having really strict deadlines (while still producing great games) is to ask for a lot more time. I think this is why the new MMO isn't even announced (by name) yet. I'm betting that a release date for that game is already set, and Blizzard is just using a very ample amount of time to develop.
 
So while I don't think that Blizzard's games suck because of this. I think that they're worse off than if they had their freedom =(
 
In this post: very heavy speculation
 
Edit: I don't think my message was clear. I wanted to say basically that Activision gave Blizzard more development time as a sort of 'expected delay' so that the development cycle stays predictable. Activision, being business-savvy, doesn't like penciled release dates; it's just bad for business.
Posted by StarvingGamer

I look forward to spending $300 total on SCII over the next four years.  Can't wait to see what the Zerg special edition stuff is going to be.  Maybe a USB Overlord humidifier and a unique Ultralisk unit model?  Mini-Ultra for WoW also ^_^

Posted by Buscemi

Blizzard's expansions have always been like $30 where I live.

Posted by pwnasaurus

simple because they can.

Posted by Supermarius

It seems to me that if you are like Brad and play starcraft for the competitive multiplayer, then dont worry about the upcoming two expansions. Having or mot having them wont affect you at all.

Posted by Teran
@Overwatch:  Your do a good job presenting your thoughts but there are some flaws.
 
First, your assumption that each expansion will take two years to complete does not fit with Blizzard's previous work on expansions.  Starcraft 1 was released in early 1998, Starcraft 1: Broodwar was released in late 1998.  Diablo 1 was released in early 1997, and Diablo: Hellfire was released in late 1997.  Warcraft 2 was released in December 1995, and Warcraft 2: Beyond the Dark Portal was released April, 1996.  Diablo 2 was released in 2000, Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction was released in 2001.  Warcraft 3 was released in in 2002 and Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne was released in 2003.  World of Warcraft was released in June 2004, Burning Crusade was released in January 2007 (18 months after the original), Wrath of the Lich King was released November 2008 (~23 months after Burning Crusade).  Cataclysm is expected to be out this year so we may be looking at another ~18 months.
 
Blizzard's over all trend for non-mmorpg expansions is generally less than 12 months of time after the release of the original.  Their pricing model also has their expansions selling for less than the original version.
 
You make far too many assumptions in your post, but we share the same level of skepticism about where Blizzard seems to be going.
Posted by Overwatch
@Teran: Nice post and I definetly understand your arguments. But I don't think that we should be looking at development times for 10 years old expansion. Dev times and games in general were very different back then. Only public beta for StarCraft 2 itself was longer, than the whole development time of Brood War. You just can't compare this. 
 
I would love, absolutely LOVE to play Heart of the Swarm this time next year, but I don't relly think it's going to happen. 
 
And for the pricing - yeah, you are probably right, as I discovered after this blog post some quote from Rob Pardo, that those expansions will be very likely priced as expansions. So I am probably wrong about the pricing, but I still belive, that Hear of the Swarm won't be released next year. We"ll see.
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