Goliaths are best suited for an anti-air role, especially against large-sized air units. In StarCraft: Brood War, Charon Boosters allows it to outrange even guardians. The goliath's ground attack is less impressive for its cost; compared to two or three marines that deal more damage, the goliath trades firepower for staying power. Goliaths are large, but only take up two slots in a dropship or other transport vessel. It is also suitable for medium ground support with marines and firebats against larger units. Goliaths with Charon Boosters can be used as mobile missile turrets in bases.
Groups of goliaths are used by terran players when the opponent focuses heavily on aerial units. Given their role as anti-air units, goliaths are effective against virtually all air units save for small-sized air units such as mutalisks, scourges, and observers, but when paired with marines, this becomes less of a problem. Goliaths are ideal for backing down capital ship fleets if in significant numbers.
The concept of the goliath had its origins in the canceled Blizzard game Shattered Nations. The game featured walkers which were relabeled as "goliaths" for StarCraft.
During the late StarCraft alpha however, they had a different appearance than in the later stages of development. They were capable of using their machine guns, a flame thrower and missiles against ground targets. It was decided that this was too much of an arsenal for one unit, so the flamethrower was developed into its own unit, the firebat.
Goliaths appeared and functioned much the same in the StarCraft beta as they did in StarCraft proper. However, their weaponry consisted of chainguns and scatter missiles instead of autocannons and Hellfire missiles.
The goliath was designed by Brian Sousa. A 3D model was made for the walker when Blizzard began experimenting with 3D modelling—it was actually the first model modeled as such. According to Samwise Didier, "it just looked kind of doink, from the game view. It was muddy, and when you rendered it out, everything looked like it was one or two pixels thick."