Blizzard's real-time strategy game (RTS) StarCraft II will be going 100% free-to-play, later this month. The news was formally announced by Blizzard during the 2017 Blizzcon opening ceremonies. Previously, via the "StarCraft II: Starter Edition", players could enjoy public multiplayer matches for free, but this newly-announced shift is much larger and far-reaching by comparison.
Once the change goes into effect, the vast majority of StarCraft II's original release will be entirely free-to-play for everyone. Specifically, according to a Blizzard blog post, that includes the original Wings of Liberty single-player campaign, every co-op commander, and competitive multiplayer. If you buy or have previously bought the original Wings of Liberty campaign before November 14, then you will also have free access to the zerg-focused Heart of the Swarm campaign - so long as you logon between November 8th and December 8th to claim it.
If you're done with Wings of Liberty and want more single-player goodness, all of the other single-player campaigns (Heart of the Swarm, Legacy of the Void, and Nova Covert Ops) will be available to purchase individually for $14.99 or as a bundle for $39.99. If you have already bought any of those, then you'll soon be receiving an exclusive Ghost skin and three new portrait options.
Perhaps the most exciting change this introduces is 100% free access to ranked multiplayer matches. The Starter Edition didn't allow access to ranked games, but the new free-to-play edition will. In order to unlock ranked, competitive multiplayer, you have to earn it. Once you achieve 10 First Wins of the Day in Unranked or Versus A.I., you'll gain access. (Think of it as mandatory training.)
All of the current and upcoming co-op commanders will be free as well, as previously stated - although, those will only be available up to level five, with the exceptions of Raynor, Kerrigan, and Artanis, who are totally free and can be leveled indefinitely.
StarCraft II remains as one of the biggest, most successful, and most popular RTS games on the market. Blizzard is a household name for most PC gamers with StarCraft II, Diablo 3, World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch all topping "hours played" charts for millions of gamers both casually and competitively around the world. In the seven years since it released in 2010, StarCraft II has awarded over $11M in prizes to competitors.
StarCraft II officially goes free-to-play on Tuesday, November 14.