Gamers everywhere are outraged as the United States government bans Starcraft II (SC2), the much-anticipated sequel to Starcraft. One of the most beloved real time strategy games of all time, Starcraft has had extreme success since its original release in 1998. Since then, gamers have been awaiting Starcraft II, which was scheduled to release on July 27, 2010. However, given the current economic crisis, Washington decided that it would be improper to allow the release of what could possibly be a World of Warcraft (WoW) killer. World of Warcraft, is of course, the most popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) in the world.
Blizzard Entertainment is known for producing the highest quality games, and is considered the only company that can release a game that might destroy the World of Warcraft. Oddly enough, they are also the creator of WoW, which leads to some interesting economic questions. Since Blizzard will be raking in money for either SC2 or WoW, why is it a big deal that they are potentially killing one of their games with the release of another? In short, it comes down to subscription fees. With 11.5 million players paying $15/month to play, the World of Warcraft has a stronger economy than most countries in the actual world, and that’s before you get into micro-payments. Starcraft II will not have subscription fees (in the United States).
The number of subscribers to WoW grows over time since there is nothing else that even remotely competes with it. Thus far, there has been no MMO that has come close to challenging WoW’s complete dominance over the market, and that is a good thing for the economy. You see, many websites are dedicated to WoW, either by providing news, strategies to defeat bosses or players, or selling in game items (illegal, but profitable). If WoW were to die, so would all these websites. This would result in the unemployment of many Americans and the collapse of the Chinese economy, which gets much of its GDP from selling gold to players.
You might think that this isn’t a problem, because SC2 is not an MMO and thus wouldn’t take away WoW’s subscriber base. Of course, you would be wrong. The demographic for both games is the same, mostly fat, balding men between the ages of 20 and 50. Most of them are also tired of WoW after five years, but they currently have no better option. SC2 will provide them with the escape they are all looking for.
Which brings us back to the beginning. Despite the government’s flaws, they are very good at deeming things to be “too big to fail”, and WoW is the first game to ever achieve this designation. A chief advisor to the president had this to say,
We know it’s ridiculous that a video game has gotten this powerful, but it’s a simple numbers game. World of Warcraft generates more money than Rhode Island and Iowa combined, and thus cannot be allowed to die. As Starcraft II will cause irreparable damage to the World of Warcraft, we have deemed it to be in the best interests of the country to postpone the release of Starcraft II indefinitely.