Over the past few weeks, Activision Blizzard's stock has been creeping downward on analysts' growing suspicion that one of the company's most anticipated releases of 2009, Blizzard Entertainment's Starcraft II, would be delayed. Today, that suspicion became a reality, as the publisher announced as part of its April-June earnings report that Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty for the PC has been delayed to the first half of 2010.
Blizzard attributed the delay to a desire to release Starcraft II alongside the relaunch of its online networking service Battle.net. That said, the developer also confirmed that it planned to use the extra time to continue honing the game.
"Over the past couple of weeks, it has become clear that it will take longer than expected to prepare the new Battle.net for the launch of the game," the Irvine, CA-based developer said in a statement. "The upgraded Battle.net is an integral part of the StarCraft II experience and will be an essential part of all of our games moving forward. This extra development time will be critical to help us realize our vision for the service."
Blizzard has previously indicated that the newly redesigned Battle.net will factor heavily into the game maker's antipiracy initiative, often seen as the Achilles' heel of the PC gaming market. As such, Blizzard said in June that it would be doing away with local area network play, forcing all Starcraft II players to connect through the online portal, instead.
Though Starcraft II was initially announced as a single product, Blizzard announced at BlizzCon 2008 that the sci-fi real-time strategy title would be split into a trilogy. The first installment, Wings of Liberty, will focus on the human faction known as the Terrans. More specifically, it will seek to resolve the conflict between Jim Raynor and Kerrigan, which was the crux of the original Starcraft.
Notably, Starcraft II has yet to enter an open beta-testing phase, though the publisher has been accepting applications from volunteers through its Web site since May. Blizzard also noted today that it plans to provide more details on the beta test "in the future."