A dozen years after changing the face of strategy gaming, the much-anticipated sequel to StarCraft has finally been dated.
Blizzard announced Monday that StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty would be hitting stores worldwide on July 27 of this year.
"We've been looking forward to revisiting the StarCraft universe for many years, and we're excited that the time for that is almost here," said Mike Morhaime, Blizzard CEO and cofounder.
"Thanks to our beta testers, we're making great progress on the final stages of development, and we'll be ready to welcome players all over the world to StarCraft II and the new Battle.net in just a few months."
It's big news for gamers, who have made no secret of their desire to get their hands on it. Keys granting access to the sequel's beta-test phase were such a hot ticket, they eventually hit auction sites like eBay for a good $300 a pop.
But it's also big news for Activision-Blizzard. Most expected the game to ship closer to the lucrative holiday period rather than the typically slow summer months. By releasing the game at the end of July, the company has ensured very little competition from similar brands. And that could mean some seriously monster sales.
The game's standard edition will retail for $59.99, though die-hard fans can plunk down $99 for a Collector's Edition that includes an artbook, soundtrack, behind-the-scene DVD and a flash drive containing the entire original StarCraft along with its expansion, Brood War.
Big numbers are certainly nothing new to StarCraft: according to Blizzard, the original has sold over 11 million units worldwide. The game has become a national pastime in Korea, proving popular enough to have spawned two television stations dedicated to showing competitive play.
Amazingly, it's not Blizzard's biggest property. That honor goes to World of Warcraft, which will receive its third expansion, Cataclysm, later this calendar year. Blizzard is also working on Diablo III, the third game in their hit role-playing series. It's currently planned for release in 2011.
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