Created by: Chris Metzen and James Phinney
Developed by: Blizzard Entertainment
Genre: Sci-Fi Real Time Strategy
Players: 1 – 8 (though each need their own PC)
<upon repeated clicking>: “Explain this odd behavior…” “Stop poking me” “What do I look like, an Orc?” “This is not Warcraft in space!” “It’s much more sophisticated!” “I know it’s not 3D!”
— Artanis (Protoss Hero, StarCraft)
Widely regarded as one of the finest RTS games ever, StarCraft has held up incredibly well in the near-20 years since its release. While many people originally thought that this was simply Warcraft in Space (hence the protestations of the Protoss Hero, Artanis – and which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing) it quickly became clear how StarCraft caused the genre to evolve. For one of the first times, if not the first time, there were three factions to choose from in the game: the Terrans (Woo! Go Humanity!), the insect-like Zerg, and the psionic Protoss. And not only were there three different races, they were all unique with completely different playing strategies. Add to that an in-depth and well-written storyline, and an open mod community (StarCraft was one of the main avenues to popularize Tower Defense games, for instance. And Defense of the Ancients was originally based on a StarCraft map), and you have yourself one kickass PC game.
Why It’s Must-Play: While its sales alone – it is one of the top-selling PC games of all time – would be enough to warrant further inspection, what really puts it over the top is the fact that an entire country became obsessed with the game. And I mean obsessed. It has kind of become the de facto national sport of South Korea. Take a gander at this. And as we don’t want an entire nation to zerg-rush us, we had to include StarCraft here.
Platforms: PC, Mac and, somewhat oddly, N64
Expansions: StarCraft: Brood War (official); Insurrection and Retribution (authorized but not really official)
Sequels and Spinoffs: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty (2010); StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (forthcoming relatively soon. Maybe.); StarCraft II: Adventures of the Protoss And We Can’t Believe We Got You To Buy One Sequel Three Times <name not finalized> (forthcoming… eventually).
In Other Media: A series of novels, action figures, board and role-playing games.
Notable Merchandise: Think Geek has a Proton Pylon USB Charger. Of course.
Estimated Total Sales: Upwards of 20 million units.
Did You Know? 120,000 people gathered to watch a 2005 StarCraft championship live in South Korea. Also, google “zerg rush”, and then thank StarCraft for the effect that follows.