It's looking more and more like Heart of the Swarm will hatch in 2013.
Once upon a time, there was an elite military operative named Sarah Kerrigan. Then she went all buggy, and her erstwhile boyfriend Jim Raynor tried to blow her up. But then there was a chance - just a sliver, mind you - that things could go differently. Narratively, that's how Blizzard has left us hanging since the end of campaign of Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, released all the way back in mid 2010. The concept of breaking up the story of the real-time strategy sequel into three distinct games rather than expansions hinged on delivering the next two iterations over the next two years. Here we are, two years later, and there's no Heart of the Swarm release date on our books. Doug Creutz - an analyst for financial firm Cowen & Company - doesn't think we'll get one in 2012, estimating 2013 at the earliest.
"Typically, Blizzard puts its new titles into beta for 3-6 months before they are officially released," he wrote in a report on Activision Blizzard this week. "With only 5 months left in the year, while it is still possible that Swarm could make the fiscal year, we are now assuming it ships in FY13."
Even though there's no public beta yet, Blizzard will be showing off multiplayer units from all three races - Terran, Protoss, Zerg - at the Gamescom festival in Germany this summer. That's a good sign that at least the designers are hard at work, but it could also be why there's been such a delay. The first Starcraft II iteration is so well-balanced that it has been adopted as a esport even more than its predecessor. I'm sure Blizzard wants to make absolutely sure the changes don't screw that up.
That's all fine, but for us non-pro strategy fans, I just want to continue the story. I don't want Heart of the Swarm to end up like Half-Life 3.