Surprising? Not exactly. Disappointing? Absolutely. After what seems like years (and actually was) of waiting for the StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm ‘expansion,’ industry analysts are now predicting that the launch won’t be arriving in 2012 after all. The predictions aren’t based on pessimism, but the amount of time that Blizzard tends to put into testing prior to public release.
StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm is obviously much more than a simple expansion, with the developers having promised a full game’s worth of content in each of the three versions. Despite the fact that the game was claimed to be 99% complete over a month ago, signs of an impending launch or even preliminary beta details have been scarce.
That’s causing some analysts to adjust previous expectations, most notably Cowan & Company analyst Doug Creutz. Activision Blizzard’s official earnings call will be taking place this Thursday, but interested parties are already being warned by Creutz that delays are likely to be announced:
“Typically, Blizzard puts its new titles into beta for 3-6 months before they are officially released. With only 5 months left in the year, while it is still possible that Swarm could make the fiscal year, we are now assuming it ships in FY13.”
Cowan & Company had previously projected two full Blizzard titles in 2012, and it seems they’ll still be half right. If you’re not going to make the expected release, why not miss it by months, right? Sadly, fans of Blizzard properties have become all too familiar with that way of thinking, but it’s hard to argue with the results. The most recent example, Diablo 3, had plenty of passionate fans up in arms over issues with both support and game design. Yet even with some fan uproar, the game still looks to exceed sales projections, according to Creutz.
The only real reason that Blizzard has to delay is a need to polish and fine-tune until they are satisfied. Of course, Diablo 3 showed that a quest for perfection more often proves fruitless. The development teams aren’t staffed by the same people, but keeping fans of StarCraft 2 waiting well over two years for an expansion – while teasing the story in numerous trailers and interviews – eventually seems more like torture than marketing.
StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm will be playable at Gamescom in August, with any release details still being withheld.
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