OMG Box art!
In case the title itself wasn’t descriptive enough to you, allow me to elaborate:
For as cheap as $5 from Gamestop, you too can have a Starcraft 2 beta key! If you haven’t snagged one from the Facebook page, Twitter, or other psuedo-random selection but are a die-hard Starcraft fan, this might be the route for you.
To my knowledge, this is the first time Blizzard has ever used this model to distribute beta keys. It seems to be jumpstarting their sales; as of the time of this writing, the regular version is the #1 seller in video games (and the collector’s edition is #3) on Amazon.com. Its a great system that has been used a lot in the past few years, and its great to see Blizzard on the gravy-train while giving customers what they want.
On the flip side, if the purpose of the beta is to actually test the game for bugs and balance to prepare it for release, selecting testers by a buy-in program may not seem like the optimal way to find people. Performance in other games, like sending invites to anyone on a Starcraft or Warcraft III ladder, or even top WoW players, seems like the best way to find the people who will find minute issues with your game. In the future, I think we will likely see a system like this more streamlined with universal Battle.net profiles.
Much how the very long WoW beta built up hype for the game, it seems pretty clear that this has become the marketing stage of the beta. The ability to essentially buy into playing the game early allows players who are excited about the game to play it now without the promise of a finished product.
How many copies did you buy?