After Blizzard made StarCraft free ahead of August's launch of the fancied-up StarCraft Remastered [official site], they had said they planned to add Remastered's new matchmaking and ladder to the free version too. (Yes, StarCraft had no matchmaking - oooh the olden days!) Blizzard have changed their minds. Matchmaking will not be added to the free old version after all, as it supports cross-version play with Remastered and Blizzard say they worried it'd end up being abused by griefers. That's a bummer but hey, it is a free game.
One Blizzardeer had said back in March that matchmaking would be available to all StarCrafters after Remaster's launch. Nope!
"We did plan to make Matchmaking and Ladder a feature for both StarCraft: Remastered and the StarCraft Anthology," Blizzard senior producer Pete Stilwell said in a recent forum post. "That position became untenable over the months of creating, researching, and testing how the system would be used in practical application."
He see that Blizzard believe not connecting matchmaking between free and paid games "is the best way to preserve the integrity of the play experience." He explained, "We want to encourage a healthy, competitive ecosystem for StarCraft, and this measure will limit griefing of new and lower-level players."
Players on the free and Remastered versions will still be able to play together through lobbies - the classic StarCraft way. Stilwell's phrasing slightly hurts my head here:
"We believe the Matchmaker is a significant addition to the Brood War competitive scene, but that the old ways of finding a matchup with specific game settings is still of great value to this game's culture.
"We hope our efforts will lead to a larger playerbase because of the new features, but over time they will learn to love the game even more for the traditions that are being carried forward."
The lack of matchmaking and limitations of lobbies did shape StarCraft's culture, true, though I'm not sure it was all for good.
But hey, the old StarCraft Anthology is free (installer is this-a-way). If you do want matchmaking, the Remastered version will cost you £12.99 when it hits in August. It also brings remade graphics, support for modern resolutions, and other such modernisations.