StarCraft is game series which should have disappeared a many times if you’ve listened to the pundits over the years. StarCraft’s demise has been predicted ever since 1999, following Brood War’s release in the year prior.
Yet, today saw a full stage and well over 20,000 tuning in on Twitch.tv for the Dreamhack grand final for StarCraft 2. For a European tournament, those numbers are impressive considering the game has apparently been on the brink of obscurity for a number of years now.
Very recently, the GSL (Global StarCraft league) broadcasted Brood War, a game in its 18th year to be met with over 10,000 people watching for league games and almost 15,000 for the final, which aired at 5am EST. That was for the English broadcast. Reports indicate the Korean broadcast had over 80,000 viewers which is rather staggering for a game almost as old as myself. Admittedly, I can no longer find where I read that but it would make sense, considering Artosis, one of the casters at the event, Tweeted out a picture of a packed out studio. And the fact that StarCraft has been dominated by Korean players and supporters.
Not to get too ahead of ourselves, the popularity of StarCraft II has declined from where it was 3-4 years ago, when I last followed the game. The number of people visiting the StarCraft Subreddit seemingly halved from 2013 to 2014, as did viewing figures however the stats for the 2014 Blizzcon finals eclipsed 140,000. Its general popularity seems to have declined while still maintaining high viewing figures for its major tournaments.
What makes StarCraft’s continued survival ever-more impressive is that it is pretty much the only RTS holding a place at major e-sporting events, and the only one to compete with titans League of Legends and Dota 2. MOBAs have risen up and dominated e-sports for a number of years now and have perhaps threatened StarCraft’s place there but it’s still standing. So while fewer people seem to be talking about it, the old timer can still keep up with the young guns of e-sports today and net in good viewers. Where StarCraft goes from here is anybody’s guess. People will continue to predict its death and that might happen, however we could still see StarCraft in 5-10 years time, especially given Brood War’s legacy.
However, to predict StarCraft’s demise now may not be too ridiculous. Blizzard has just released the final expansion for StarCraft II and it’s unlikely that will have the legs Brood War had due to it having to compete with MOBAs. How Blizzard approach StarCraft in the coming years will be vital to the game’s future. A third addition to the franchise could see a boost in popularity however time will tell. For now, all we can do is admire how StarCraft is still going and continue to predict its downfall.