At the end of July, Blizzard revealed the details of its 1.5.0 Arcade patch for StarCraft II, hailing "sweeping changes to the Battle.net experience". The patch, it said, would contain no balance tweaks and very few bug fixes; instead, it represented a huge overhaul of the graphical user interface and changes to the system for delivering further patches.
The new streaming-based patch system, as used in World of Warcraft and Diablo III, was to reduce wait times in StarCraft II. The shiny new interface included in the patch was meant to make navigating much more intuitive, with a new Arcade feature used to separate out and showcase the unique custom maps created in the game's map editor. This would shine a much-deserved spotlight on those creators who put months of work into making the best mods in StarCraft II.
Such was the plan, but the reality of patch 1.5.0 has been rather different. Since landing on August 1, 1.5.0 has been plagued with technical issues that left many unable to play StarCraft II at all.
The patch's troubles ranged from inconveniences, such as needing 10GB of free space on your hard drive to complete the install, to total game failure, including the game launcher becoming stuck in an infinite loop of crash-launch.
Those players who avoided problems with installing the patch itself may well have faced worse problems inside their game. In-game issues included having your interface language changed, a bug that could only be repaired by locating a text file in your install folder and manually changing back the language (if you have this problem, see the official support pages for a fix).
Players who went straight into their normal stream of ladder games may have escaped all those problems only to find that after playing a few games they were often not gaining or losing small amounts of points but in some cases losing hundreds of ladder points for winning matches. Those who skipped the ladder and instead played custom games were saved from the agony of seeing their hard earned ladder points disappear, but may have encountered other issues with their custom games.
Approximately half of all custom games currently seem to be using up-to-date game balance, while the other half uses balance from around the time the game was released. This change makes it a completely different game - and one that is fundamentally imbalanced. Units cost different amounts, some tech trees differ slightly, abilities that have been removed are back and new ones are gone.
This patch has numerous game breaking-issues that affect almost the entire player base, with more bugs being reported all the time. Some of the hardest hit are the Mac users, as it seems the current update has removed support for older versions of OSX. Though Blizzard has acknowledged many of these faults and have said it is working on fixes, many fans feel patch failure on this magnitude is totally unacceptable.
Although Patch 1.5.0 may make everything look a little prettier, and might even be great in the long run, it has been an abject failure so far. With recent Diablo III balance and patching issues and now this, Blizzard is developing a reputation for poor quality control on its updates. How long will the die-hard fans associated with Blizzard games put up with this?
Have you been experiencing any of these issues? What are your thoughts on Blizzards latest patching failures? Comments below, please.