One of the most popular games and esports of all time is now completely free.
Blizzard Entertainment has just updated StarCraft, its 19-year-old real-time sci-fi strategy classic, to make it a free download. You can get StarCraft and the Brood War expansion without paying anything by clicking here for the PC and here for the Mac (the download will automatically start if you hit those links). Blizzard has not released any of the classic Warcraft RTS games for free.
This move is a precursor to the release of StarCraft: Remastered, which is an updated version of the game and the expansion due out in the next couple of months. Blizzard recently completed a trilogy of releases for StarCraft II, and now it is making an effort to revitalize a franchise that was once the most important game in the competitive-gaming scene around the world.
By releasing the original StarCraft for free, Blizzard is also telegraphing some of what it wants to do with the remaster and with the series as a whole. StarCraft: Remastered is not the first updated classic in the world of games. Publishers do this all the time. Examples include the recently released Voodoo Vince, Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, and PlayStation 4’s God of War III Remastered. What is different, however, is that most other publishers don’t give away the original version of the game for free.
That discrepancy is worth noting because it signifies that Blizzard isn’t worried that the audience for StarCraft: Remastered will get what they want by playing the original again. This is despite the company promising to keep all of the gameplay from StarCraft exactly the same in the Remastered release. And the reason this doesn’t worry Blizzard is because the updated HD visuals and re-recorded audio (both welcome improvements) aren’t the reason most people will show up for the remake — instead, fans will show up for the promised “modern online features.”
The thing that will make StarCraft: Remastered worth purchasing is that it will work through the Blizzard app and a lot of people will play it. This means you’ll have an easier time finding a match with someone who matches your skill level, and you can also see when your friends are online playing. These are crucial features for one of the best head-to-head competitive games ever, and the free version cannot match with its more rudimentary online support.
So go enjoy yourself some free StarCraft, and then Blizzard will see you in a few weeks when you’re ready to buy the game all over again.