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Blizzard’s StarCraft Troubles in South Korea

What likely is the final chapter in a conflict between Blizzard Entertainment and the Korean e-Sport Association (KeSPA), Blizzard has censored StarCraft II, and received the desired Age 12 rating according to StarCraft: IncGamers.

We speculated that the initial 18+ age rating by the South Korean ratings board could be political and that KeSPA simply pulled some string at the ratings board to try and keep StarCraft II from being a hit in the country, taking over from the professional StarCraft I games they broadcast.

The reason they do that is because they have all the broadcast rights of StarCraft I in the country, making millions in profit every year, although reportedly do not pay royalties to Blizzard.

Blizzard has long tried to talk to them to sort out some sort of cooperation, but KeSPA has refused, and Blizzard broke off talks with the organisation about a month ago.

The content that got StarCraft II an adult rating in the first place was red blood, smoking and swearing. These are elements found in other Korean games, and it’s rumoured, and widely believed, KeSPA is behind the unusually strict rating of 18+.

Blizzard has changed the colour of the blood to black as well as cut the smoking and swearing, and is ready to be sold to the awaiting masses.

A Blizzard representative added:Star Craft 2 was originally made for young people to enjoy, we’re pleased with the decision. In the remaining development time before the game goes on sale. We’ll do our best to continue to perfect the game so that even more fans can enjoy it.This might seem harsh, but South Korea’s censorship laws are pretty steep. People tend to forget that one of the main reasons StarCraft I became so immensely popular in the country was because Blizzard was one of few developers who properly bowed to the country’s strict censorship laws back then, when everyone else ignored the youngsters’ budding interest for computer games.

Blizzard introduced a high quality strategic action game (not even dubbed) to a well connected youth group who back then had large unemployment figures, and the rest is history. Blizzard has not really made any more changes this time. On the contrary, they have now dubbed the game for the Koreans, as they know the game has potential.

It seems quite obvious now that the main reason why LAN play is not allowed in StarCraft II is to make sure Blizzard is not snuffed by profits made illegally on their games like KeSPA has done. This despite their extended LAN functionality being one of the prime reasons StarCraft I became big in the first place, and the decision being gruesomely unpopular in the west. There is just too much money in it, something that becomes very visible with the massive betting scandal that has hit the e-Sporting country.

The fact it’s widely pirated for play with LAN in China is likely also a reason for the change in direction.

Blizzard has done its best to keep StarCraft II’s system requirements as low as possible, made it available to as many people as possible (including Mac users) and has been predicted to sell many millions of units by launch and more over time (something that has been said in the past as well). Although usually delayed by a year or ten, Blizzard tends to deliver us all the goodies.

If you are interested to know more about StarCraft II, check out our hands-on testing of the game, including the main gameplay preview, our single player hands-on, the first beta preview and an insight into the new Battle.net.

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