After 19 years, StarCraft has gone free-to-play


Ahead of this summer’s remaster

StarCraftoriginally released on March 31, 1998. It’s tough to write about a game that’s nearly 20 years old without it sounding like an obituary. StarCraft‘s legacy is probably already set in stone; at the very least it’s a benchmark real-time strategy game and a title that contributed heavily to the popularization of online competitive play. This isn’t an obituary though because StarCraftstill isn’t dead.

Today, StarCraftwent free-to-play. This isn’t the “free-to-play (but we’ll get you with microtransactions)” as is the trend nowadays. This is an honest-to-goodness free version of StarCraftand the Brood Warexpansion. Go get it if you want it.

Although it’s a nice gesture from Blizzard, it’s still more of a marketing effort than anything else. Giving away the old StarCraftsets the stage for the StarCraftremaster that’s coming later this summer. Residual sales have almost certainly dried up at this point and making it free seems like the best way to get people talking about a 19-year-old game.

Blizzard’s putting more effort into this than just letting it out into the wild. The developer is also releasing its first patch for StarCraftin more than eight years. Among other things, an Observer mode has been added. Here are the full patch notes:


  • Added windowed fullscreen or windowed mode; Alt+Enter switches between
  • Added UTF-8 support
  • Added cursor clamping in-game while windowed; unclamped in menus
  • Added Popular Maps to streamline finding games or game types
  • Added options to display actions per minute
  • Added Observer mode
  • Added opponent information when joining a game lobby
  • Added autosaving for replays
  • Added an option to display game time
  • Added UPnP support
  • Updated to a new OpenGL backend
  • Improved gameplay responsiveness during multiplayer by increasing turn rate to match LAN speeds over
  • Improved UI layout in sections
  • Improved behavior of available lobbies within the ‘Join Game’ section
  • Improved compatibility with Windows 7, 8.1, and 10
  • Improved anticheat capabilities
  • Improved installation and patching performance
  • Mac Beta now available for 10.11 and up

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed palette issues to correct rainbow water, 80s Kerrigan face in the loading screen, and other graphic glitches
  • Fixed problems with LAN game discovery
  • Fixed IME support and other text artifacts in menus
  • LAN and Legacy fixes

Known Issues:

  • The profile section is currently unavailable
  • Some chat commands are still being updated to play nice in the updated chat system
  • Friends location is being improperly displayed
  • Password games will often return bad password trying to join

StarCraft 1.18 Release: 18 April 2:00 PM PDT[]