I don’t follow StarCraft 2 in-depth but in Korea the original StarCraft was a national obsession with pro gamers becoming celebrities, TV shows dedicated to the game and tons of merchandising. With Diablo 3’s release now a matter of weeks away, the Korean Times has put together an article which looks at how Blizzard’s reputation has changed over the years in Korea and how previous events could hamper sales of Diablo 3.
There’s no doubt Blizzard made some unpopular decisions with StarCraft 2, no LAN being the main one, and with Diablo 3’s always online requirement, it’s still a major issue for many. Reading through the article it’s apparent that there’s more to it than just game features not being included that could put players off. There is the perception by Korean gamers that Blizzard has become a “greedy corporation” following Blizzard’s claims against Korea e-Sports Association (KeSPA) over copyright infringements on Starcraft. There was also Blizzard’s struggle with the Korean rating board over the RMAH which went on for months.
Blizzard are of course correct and entitled to protect their IP, but when it comes to gaming communities and the promotion of a product, I think there has to be some give and take. With KeSPA utilising SC as their flagship game, they were also promoting Blizzard products so it’s a bit of grey area.
I think we’ll all agree that Blizzard is not the company it once was, it has had to mature quickly and become more corporate and that usually doesn’t sit well with gaming communities. Natural human instinct is to support the little guy and fight the corporate machine.
Whether Blizzard’s reputation in Korea has been tarnished so much that gamers will keep away from Diablo 3 is unlikely, but I’m sure there are some gamers who will not pick the game up in Korea based on recent events.