Call down the thunder: StarCraft is now free

Blizzard’s seminal 1998 strategy game StarCraft [official site] and its expansion, Brood War, are now free for all and sundry. The game that birthed modern digital sports! The game that launched a thousand zerg rushes! The game that still has the best tanks in all RTSland! Blizzard have updated StarCraft a touch to play nicer with modern computers but mostly it’s still just StarCraft (“just StarCraft” she says!). The real overhaul is coming later this summer in the not-free StarCraft Remastered. But for now, free StarCraft for all is just dandy, ta.

You can grab StarCraft free for Windows here and for Mac here. Or grab ’em later. They’re free indefinitely, not for a short window. Playing online requires you to sign up for a account but the singleplayer and LAN play don’t even need that.

The 1.18 patch notes mention changes like adding windowed fullscreen mode and an Observer mode while improving networking, the anticheat, and compatibility with new versions of Windows. Poking my head into the sorts of musty dens where grizzled StarCrafters swig rotgut and gob into spacespitoons, I do hear a bit of grumbling about others issues left unfixed. Hey, it’s only 19 years old – give ’em time!

StarCraft Remastered, the versions Blizzard will charge for, are coming this summer with new high-res art, remastered audio, support for modern resolutions (and widescreen!), and so on. Have a peek in this announcement trailer from March:


  1. DrollRemark says:

    19 years, good God! I remember buying Starcraft (and Worms Armageddon) on a lunch break at school and excitedly bringing it back to class, knowing I’d have to wait hours before being able to get home and play it. I had almost no idea what the game was about but was deeply, nerdily entranced by the sci-fi aesthetic.

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      Qazinsky says:

      Heh, this comment brings back memories of how I used to buy games back before I just started buying them online. First there was family trips to the slightly bigger (but still small) city of Västerås (yes, Westeros is real, and it’s in Sweden)where they actually sold computer games, choosing one game based on the box art, usually from some kind of sale box. Then reading the manual in the car on the way home.

      A few years later, I travelled there by train every day to school. I did my game shopping after school so it was only a train ride worth of waiting and possibly up to an hour of waiting for the train if I missed it. When Troikas new game, Arcanum came out, I had anticipated that for quite some time. So of course the train was cancelled. Don’t know exactly how long the waiting to find that out took or the replacement bus ride, but probably around three hours of waiting. At least it came with a thick manual.

      Sorry for going a bit offtopic here, back to your Starcrafting.

  2. fuggles says:

    Somewhere there is a fair and just universe where total annihilation remastered is announced as even now it’s overlooked due to StarCraft.

    Anyway fair play to blizzard, now get back to Blackthorn 2!

  3. Chentzilla says:

    Do you even check what you post? It’s a 3,1 Mb download which installs agent without even asking me!

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Those links are to the StarCraft installers. Yes, I have downloaded and installed it. Yes, the installer mentions No, as far as I can see it hasn’t installed Blizzard’s big desktop client doodad on my PC.

      • Kingseeker Camargo says:

        You didn’t answer whether or not you even check what you post, though. WAY TO SIDESTEP THE QUESTION WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO HIDE ETC.

      • Chentzilla says:

        The first thing it has shown to me was “Updating client”.

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    phuzz says:

    So, as someone who somehow missed out on Starcraft (and the Warcrafts)* when they came out, is it worth me downloading this and giving the single player a go?
    Also, dear whoever still owns the C&C franchise, how about releasing a version of Red Alert 2 that runs on modern machines?

    * Somehow the only Blizzard game I’ve ever played is BattleChess

    • chackosan says:

      The single-player campaign is quite majestic, and it only gets better with Brood War. So yes.

    • Ben Damage says:

      I’m not sure this has RA2, but it’s still bloody awesome. Runs beautifully and makes great use of the screen.

      I think someone is working on Tiberian Sun within this community, though I could be wrong.

      • trollomat says:

        Can you replay the full campaign with this or is it only multiplayer/skirmish mode?

    • Frank says:

      The campaign is pretty great. But if you aren’t okay with old graphics and whatnot, maybe wait for the remaster instead.

    • Asurmen says:

      I assume you mean RA2 with widescreen support? Because it runs on modern machines for me.

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        phuzz says:

        Widescreen support would be nice, but it runs super fast for me, and crashes after about five minutes :(
        I will check out openRA though and see how well that works.

  5. ColonelFlanders says:

    You gotta hand it to Blizzard. Sometimes they make mistakes but they are always doing cool shit like this. Diablo 2 got patches last year, StarCraft this year, along with being FREE. It’s nice to see companies revisiting their old titles and keeping them up to date and playable. Keep on doing this Blizz, I like.

  6. unraveler says:

    Am I the only one who actually want more WC3 Remastered?

    Don’t get me wrong, StarCraft and Diablo 2 were fun, but in term of visuality – they are both mostly hand draw animated (mixed with some little 3D polygons), so bringing them to the modern era means sharping some pixels here and there, and you get HD remastered.
    However, with WC3 and its full 3D models – it’s gonna be much more interesting (Like the Resident Evil Remastered).

    • 1Derby says:

      WC3: Yes to this! I lost more hours than I can count to StarCraft, but to play WC3 again…. STOP POKING ME!!!!!

    • trollomat says:

      I have a strong urge to replay WC3 for some time now, but frankly I am too lazy to look for my old CDs. Is it possible to get it digitally somewhere for a couple of bucks?

      • Nauallis says:

        You can buy it directly from blizzard, through a blizz account. Was like $15-$20 last I looked, which was several years ago.

      • benkc says:

        In the unlikely event that you have your CD-key written down somewhere, you can input that into your account and get a digital version that way.

  7. peterako1989 says:

    Is anyone getting “the application has encountered an unexpected error” error? I do. Trying To run this on a netbook BTW(its all I can do ATM).

    • pauleyc says:

      I haven’t encountered this error myself but several people in the Ars Technica comments remarked that they were getting OpenGL errors with integrated Intel graphics (which would be probably applicable in the case of most netbooks), something related to bad/outdated drivers where no newer versions exist.

      • peterako1989 says:

        Ah, the joys of owning intel intergraded graphics. Its not the first time. There’s a multitude of games I cant run that are within the specs of my netbook.

  8. TheRavenholmPost says:

    Does anyone know if the map editor comes along with it ?

  9. Nauallis says:

    Call down the thunder? What does that even mean? Start the ominous booming?

  10. Rainshine says:

    Blizzard is unfairly depreciating the resale value of my $20 purchase from last millennium.

  11. haldolium says:

    Damn I forgot how horrible unit pathfinding was in 1998.