Many-a-PC gamers' summer plans were ruined this afternoon, when Blizzard Entertainment announced the long-awaited launch date for its real-time strategy game, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. The first installment in the three-part sequel will launch worldwide--China excepted--on July 27 for the PC and Mac and will retail for $60 in the US. The game will also be available in a deluxe $100 Collector's Edition that will include a 176-page art book and a flash drive preloaded with the original Starcraft and its Brood War expansion.
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty will focus on the human Terran faction with a 29-mission single-player campaign. However, the multiplayer component will also let gamers wage interstellar real-time strategy warfare as the hivelike Zerg and technologically advanced Protoss factions. Two sequels focusing on those factions--Legacy of the Void and Heart of the Swarm--are also in development.
Eager gamers who preorder the RTS via GameStop will be able to join the ongoing Starcraft II beta. Keep in mind, though, orders cannot be canceled once GameStop sends out the beta key.
Starcraft II is the first new stand-alone game from Blizzard Entertainment since 2004's World of Warcraft, which has dominated the subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing market. Wall Street analysts are bullish on the RTS's potential sales, with Pacific Crest Securities' Evan Wilson predicting the game will sell over 6 million copies. Wedbush's Michael Pachter believes that combined with the launch of the latest WOW expansion, Cataclysm, Blizzard could see game sales of 12 million units this year.