As promised earlier this month at BlizzCon, the classic RTS StarCraft 2 is now free to play. To celebrate the big change, Blizzard dropped a trio of tweets today aimed at Electronic Arts and its much-publicized troubles with Star Wars Battlefront 2.
Number of hours it takes to earn the full StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Campaign: 0November 14, 2017
Number of pay-to-win mechanics in StarCraft II: 0Free to Play - Now Live! pic.twitter.com/a02OYUCYZUNovember 14, 2017
While the marketing campaign was probably planned some time ago, they pretty clearly allude to a report from earlier this week that it will take up to 40 hours of gameplay to unlock top-tier hero characters like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars Battlefront 2. That sparked a backlash against EA that was literally unprecedented: One reply to a complaint about the game quickly became the most-downvoted comment on Reddit. (That sucker is now up to 682,000 downvotes, by the way.) The reaction was furious enough to cause a dramatic reduction in hero cost, even before the game is in full release, but the entire Battlefront 2 'economy' remains controversial.
The video is funny in spots, and on its own may have stood well as a just-savage-enough bit of marketing, a little like Sony's game-sharing dig (opens in new tab) at Microsoft from a few years back. But three tweets in succession hammering the same point is a little surprising when there's an element of pot-and-kettle to the whole thing.
The free-to-play implementation of StarCraft 2 is generous, but cost is becoming a serious issue in Hearthstone—we recently estimated that maintaining a full collection of cards has grown to nearly $1000 per year. Meanwhile, Overwatch, as this Rolling Stone report states, is often cited as the "catalyst" for the suddenly-common practice of including loot boxes in non-free-to-play games. Blizzard doesn't think it should be part of that conversation (opens in new tab), but it is.
None of which is to say that EA hasn't well and truly botched the launch of Star Wars Battlefront 2, but stones and glass houses, right?
StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty is available for free now at starcraft2.com (opens in new tab). Those who already own it can grab the Zerg campaign, Heart of the Swarm, in its place, until December 8.