According to their official announcement, Blizzard Entertainment will hold “the 'I <3 StarCraft' event — a token of our appreciation for all our passionate fans around the globe — taking place on March 25 live in Korea, the capital of StarCraft.” Additionally, the event will include a press conference, restarting the rumor mill about a StarCraft HD remaster from last year. Here are seven points to keep in mind regarding speculation about Starcraft HD.
1. Is StarCraft HD Remaster coming or is it just wishful thinking?
When asked for a response, Blizzard Korea officially refused to comment on the issue, saying it cannot confirm nor deny the existence of the remaster. However, players and sources in the esports industry have started to circulate snippets of specific information about the remaster since last August. Because of this, it appears that Starcraft HD is confirmed within the industry despite the lack of an official announcement from the company.
Considering the company’s track record of completely scrapping projects before making official reveals, media outlets had no other choice but to wait to hear confirmation directly from Blizzard. Even last year, many media outlets covered the story about the remaster without disclosing sources, making the news not much more than rumors.
Many fans expected that the remaster would be announced at the last BlizzCon but were left disappointed as no sign of the classic RTS was found. Recently, though, it was confirmed that President and CEO Mike Morhaime will visit Korea for the I
2. What will Mike Morhaime reveal at the event?
Earlier this week, Blizzard Korea invited media outlets to a press conference where reporters will have a chance to talk to the president and CEO of the company before the main event begins.
Since it’s a media conference open to reporters prior to an official event, many experts anticipate hearing news about the StarCraft remaster. In fact, Morhaime has visited Korea several times in the past but never held a press conference when the event in question is only applicable to players. In other words, there will be an important announcement.
3. What will change in StarCraft HD?
The most obvious and drastic change would be the resolution. Released in 1998, the original StarCraft runs at a resolution of 640x480. Chances are good that the remaster will bump it up to 720p at the least and maybe even 1080p. According to inside sources, other aspects like visuals, balance, and UI won’t deviate much from the original game.
Popular games like BioShock and The Last of Us have gone through remastering while keeping all of the in-game elements intact, except for resolution upscale and select textures. Even though the old system may seem outdated judging by modern gaming standards, meddling with fundamental systems or mechanisms could have a negative impact on the game’s identity.
That said, the improvements listed above are not confirmed by Blizzard, which means that no one will know for certain until people hear it from the company itself. Sadly, the information about remaster changes is nothing but speculation.
4. How will Battle.net evolve?
StarCraft still uses the old Battle.net system. It’s expected that the remastered version of the game will incorporate the current Battle.net 2.0 launcher.
Blizzard has previously said that it will continue to service Battle.net 1.0 as long as the company is in existence. Realistically speaking, the old Battle.net is almost an obsolete system and can’t keep up with modern network speeds. To compensate for this issue, players often resort to various latency change plugins.
Moving to Battle.net 2.0 will have many upsides including the ease of account management, faster network speed, diverse payment options, and possible cross promotions (event items, products, and Battle.net balance).
5. What about the previous owners and PC bang payment plans?
It goes without saying that people who already own the game and those who registered the game to their accounts should get the remastered version for free, as other developers traditionally gave out remasters at no cost to previous owners.
It’s the same with PC bang payment options. StarCraft is a nearly 20-year-old game, but it remained on the top ten most played games in PC bang gaming charts without an exception. Evidently, people are still passionate about the game and consistently account for 4-5% of the total PC bang gaming share. PC bang owners are required to use genuine copies of StarCraft to connect to Battle.net. Common sense dictates that business owners should also get a free upgrade to the HD remaster along with new features thanks to Battle.net 2.0.
However, there’s a possibility that Blizzard may implement a different payment plan. Business owners must buy time cards to get access to premium perks and many Blizzard games like World of Warcraft. If for some reason the company decides to include the remastered StarCraft as one of the games that require time cards, Blizzard can open up yet another revenue stream.
On average, a PC bang market share of 4-5% is expected to yield about 2 to 4 billion won monthly(roughly 1.7 to 3.5 million US dollars). If Blizzard decides to include the remastered StarCraft in the time card system, it will net close to 30 to 50 billion won yearly(approximately 26 to 44 million US dollars).
Naturally, PC bang owners won’t be thrilled about having to buy more time for the remastered StarCraft. Those who already bought the original StarCraft will fiercely oppose the idea. All eyes are on Blizzard to see which route the company will take.
*Editor’s Note: PC bang payment plans apply to Korean regions only.
6. When will Starcraft HD be released?
If the release date is far off in the future, there’s little reason to set the current status of the StarCraft Anthology on Battle.net Shop to “temporarily sold out.” Call it a hunch, but I believe the development of StarCraft HD is nearly complete, and the team is waiting to find the right time to announce the release schedule. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the game’s release date as early as March and April or May and June at the latest. As a matter of fact, Blizzard already has massive marketing plans starting between May and June.
Unfortunately, the Legend Match will not be played with the remastered version of StarCraft.
7. What does the remaster mean for StarCraft leagues?
With the 2012 OnGameNet Starleague, official StarCraft leagues have closed their curtains. That isn’t to say that former pro players and fans stopped consuming StarCraft content, as that still takes place in the form of streaming. Perhaps someone answered their prayers because Afreeca Starleague, ASL Team Battle, and SPOTV’s recent SSL Classic have been organized and announced. Remastered or not, StarCraft leagues are here to stay as long as there’s a demand.
Although no official announcement about StarCraft HD has been made, visuals, balance, and UI aspects will apparently be faithful to the original. It still remains to be seen whether the remaster will be able to bring back the glory days of StarCraft or even come close to the splash that the original game made.
Even if the remaster won’t bring as many changes as expected, what is certain is that the news of StarCraft HD will be a boon for esports leagues — no matter how big or small its actual impact is going to be.