It isn’t that uncommon for software to stop receiving updates years after it has been launched. After all, even Microsoft just recently did that with Vista. That is even truer for games, whose lifespans are a lot shorter than operating systems. Unless you’re talking about StarCraft, which many loved and still love to play. While the game, which launched in 1998, formally stopped getting updates more than 8 years ago, Blizzard has restarted the development machine as it re-launches the real-time strategy game, this time for free.
When Blizzard announced that it would be giving the much-loved RTS franchise a 4K remaster, it also promised that it would make the original low-res version of the game absolutely for free, no strings attached. After a rather messy beta release, Blizzard is finally letting the floodgates swing open in full.
You have to give Blizzard credit for what it was able to accomplish, which also explains the weeks of delay. Making an early 2000s game work on modern hardware and operating systems is no walk in the park, as many early beta testers found out late March. Although it’s not as massive an undertaking as remastering artwork to 4K, making sure that the game doesn’t even crash is already an adventure in of itself.
So the original StarCraft, as well as its Brood War expansion, is available completely free. Alongside it is the 1.18 update that brings the game to the current century. The patch includes, among other things, support for windowed or windowed fullscreen modes, UTF-8 support, and cursor clamping, some things we take for granted in games these days but were virtually non-existent nearly two decades ago. There are also some completely modern trappings like Observer mode and autosaving for replays.
Blizzard instructs Windows users to run game in administrator mode when first applying the patch in order to keep Windows happy. In other related news, the 4K remaster seems to still be on track for release in summer. Blizzard is now teasing side-by-side samples of the low-res and 4K assets that your eyes will feast on when it does come.