The Devil Plays Protoss: The Marketplace

BY Andrew Miesner / November 2, 2011

The Devil Plays Protoss: The Marketplace

by Jacqueline Geller

Any opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of compLexity Gaming or its parent company.

Blizzcon 2011

During BlizzCon, Blizzard announced a number of map mod changes that will be added with Heart of the Swarm. There are a number of exciting changes for custom game and map makers in the upcoming SC2 expansion including a cinematic editor and a system to create and import custom units and doodads using 3DS Max. If you know anything about making custom doodads and units in SC2, while it is not impossible, it is a complicated mess of a process. Blizzard is trying to make the custom game and map making process easier for those individuals with the passion to do it. While all of these nifty tools and changes are fine and dandy, Blizzard recognizes the fact that both custom maps and custom games need a bit of help. None of the proposed changes are set in stone, but BlizzCon attendees did get a sneak peak at what HotS could bring for custom map makers. The first way that Blizzard will be encouraging custom games is by having a button right on the main page to encourage players to check out custom games. In the top left-hand corner where players currently chose between “Single Player” and “Multi Player,” players will choose between “Starcraft” and “The Arcade” in HotS.

What is the Arcade, you ask? It will be a place for players to browse custom games and play them. The best way to describe the system is to compare it to Reddit. There will be a featured game as well as four different columns to promote other games based on release date, rating and popularity. There will be columns such as “What’s Hot” where games that are played often with high ratings will be featured. With the Arcade, Blizzard hopes to encourage players to check out custom games. A variety of different games will appear on the Arcade page, and a number of game creators will have the opportunity to have their games played.

“Blizzard plans to develop the Arcade into the Marketplace.”

Blizzard plans to develop the Arcade into the Marketplace. While the Marketplace should have similar functionality of the Arcade, it gives game creators the option to charge for their maps. The details of how it will exactly work are not announced, the plan is to let game creators pick the price of the game. Whether or not Blizzard will be worked into the payment plan is unclear, but it could be a nice way to make a bit of extra cash off a one-time-buy game like SC2. With micro transactions being a great way for a video game company to make money, a piece of the pie could be good motivation to get the Marketplace online

The Arcade has the potential to bring more attention to the hundreds of custom games available through SC2. I have played a good number of custom SC2 1v1 melee maps, but as far as custom games are concerned, I’ve played less than a dozen. When I have played them, it’s with friends either at the local LAN centre. I’ve never just opened SC2 to play a custom game by myself, but I could see the more visible Arcade encouraging me to play more customs. It’s a great way to promote new custom content, and unlike the current system which really only promotes the most popular maps and games, the Arcade will have systems in place to promote other maps and games as well.

“The Arcade”

I am excited for the Arcade, but I think the Marketplace will be better in theory than in practice. The idea of allowing map creators to charge for their maps is great, but I am unsure how many players will be willing to pay for games. After buying HotS, unless a custom game has really, really great feedback, what are the chances that you’d be willing to purchase it? I’ve had an iPhone for two years and can count on one hand the number of apps that I’ve purchased. I think my relationship with the Marketplace will be much like the app store. While I may purchase four or five games if I’ve heard amazing things about them, I’m not about to start throwing cash at HotS custom games. As far as I know, there is no “test drive” option which makes it a harder sell, too. I’d be more willing to invest in a game that I’ve tried once or twice.

Blizzard thinks that the Marketplace will encourage map creators to work in teams, polishing up their products to sell them, but the DotAs of the world are few and far between. That’s what the ultimate goal would be for any custom game creator: DotA. It inspired a popular genre of video games. There will be hundreds of individuals may try to make the next big custom game but few who will be making the next big custom game.

The good news for gamers is that there should be fantastic custom games being made and published during HotS. The bad news is that these games may come with a price tag. As with any concept for a new game, both the Arcade and the Marketplace may change or never be fully developed. The Arcade should be released soon as a functioning component of HotS, which should be released soon.


About the Author – Jacqueline Geller

After years of playing World of Warcraft, a friend introduced Jacqueline to Starcraft early last year. Jacqueline’s relationship with Starcraft started out slowly: a handful of casual dates, a little bit of flirting but nothing serious. She took her relationship with the game to the next level after BlizzCon 2010 where she experienced eSports magic first-hand and realized that Starcraft was the one. Despite being a mediocre player, she has been clambering the ladder at a glacial pace and has spent more time watching Starcraft online than she’d like to admit. In March, Jacqueline made the leap from eSports fan to eSports professional when she was hired by the Handsome Nerd as their Art Director, combining her design skills with her love of Starcraft. Since its start in April, Jacqueline has been a contributing writer for the North American Star League, writing coverage for Division 1. Offline, Jacqueline is a bookworm, a runner, a freeride snowboarder and has a Human Ecology degree with a Clothing and Textiles major.

View Jacqueline’s profile here.
Visit @jacquelinesg on Twitter