Starcraft release now late January

Beta likely to be sacrificed as company gives Starcraft one last push out the door.

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Blizzard Entertainment announced on Wednesday that its role-playing strategy title Starcraft would not make its December release date and would instead likely make its way to retailers by late January.

Today the company said that even though the decision to delay the title's release was made this past Monday, the development team was asking itself up until yesterday if just maybe it could get the title to duplication in time to meet a Christmas release date.

"We were not trying to keep people in the dark, and up until yesterday we still felt we had a chance to get it out…but there isn't an exact science to developing games," Blizzard's Bill Roper said. The title is 90 percent complete, according to Roper.

The Starcraft team will concentrate on polishing the single-player campaigns and "playing with the AI." Roper said the title was already "a lot of fun, but we're dedicated to not sacrificing our product quality" merely to make a Q4 release.

The company can take heart that its previous title, Diablo, suffered no apparent loss in sales when it missed its targeted Christmas 1996 release. That title hit stores the first week in January 1997 and went on to become a massively successful title for Blizzard. Talk of Blizzard trying to pull another Diablo out of its hat and intentionally delaying the Starcraft release was calmly discounted by Roper.

"This wasn't a marketing decision…it was a decision driven by development and an intention to make the game better, nothing more," Roper said.

Roper said that while a beta test was still planned, it isn't definite. Roper said the development team was "focused on the product" and would be concentrating on bringing the product to market without incurring any additional delays. He said Blizzard "will try" to conduct the beta, but made no guarantees.

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