Apr. 19th, 2011

hellfire99x: (Default)
So today, as I was browsing through the TeamLiquid website and finding random articles, I came across a few comments about how Starcraft 2 isn't faring as well as Starcraft and Brood War in South Korea. I started Googling around a bit, and eventually came across a very informative article.

http://www.next-gen.biz/features/the-battle-for-starcraft-ii

The story goes something like this: In 1998, a small developer named Blizzard released Starcraft. It was a very popular game for its time, and helped shape Blizzard into what it is today. However, the game's popularity exploded in South Korea -- out of 10 million copies sold worldwide, 5 million of those were sold in South Korea. South Koreans are the most competitive Starcraft players in the world, and non-players (or non-competitive players) enjoyed watching them play... so the Korean e-Sports Authority (KeSPA) was formed with blessings from the government, and among other things they regulate television networks in South Korea which are dedicated entirely to e-sports. Three such networks are MBC Game, GOM TV, and OnGameNet.

So, where does Blizzard fit into all of this in terms of Starcraft and Brood War? Well, they developed the games, and when players or sponsors bought a copy of the game, Blizzard got money for it -- in terms of broadcasting and e-sports leagues, Blizzard was pretty much left in the dark.

Fast-forward to today. Blizzard's seen many changes over the years -- it was picked up by Vivendi a while back, which later merged with Activision. The company Activision-Blizzard as it exists today is quite a lot more power- and money-hungry than it used to be. As such, when it came to Starcraft 2, they decided to shake things up a bit -- they wanted control over Starcraft 2 in the Korean market, including broadcasting, marketing, ad revenues, etc. They didn't simply want a slice of the pie; they wanted the whole pie. Plus, they want to expand the e-sports phenomenon to a global scale, far beyond the humble beginnings in South Korea.

Thus, when it came time to "negotiate" the demands, there really wasn't a whole lot to be negotiated. Blizzard wanted the level of control over Starcraft 2 broadcasting that KeSPA had with Starcraft and Brood War broadcasting. KeSPA disagreed -- after all, they helped create the whole industry in South Korea. Eventually, Blizzard came to an agreement with only one of KeSPA's networks -- GOM TV. This, of course, left KeSPA as a whole out in the dark, as well as MBC Game, OnGameNet, and many other networks. To seal the deal, GOM TV had given the other networks a deadline to cease their now-illegal broadcasts.

As a result, it seems a lot of South Koreans have an aversion to Starcraft 2. Who can blame them? Reading up about this type of stuff from Blizzard in recent years has given me a bit of an aversion to them, myself.

It's sad, really. I wish the South Korean government had come down hard on Activision-Blizzard's power-grab: "Hey, this is our country, and we already have an existing infrastructure in place. Use it and/or come to a power-sharing agreement, or Starcraft 2 will be banned from our market." Imagine how quickly Activision-Blizzard would've changed their tune.

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