If you’ve ever been interested in playing Blizzard’s superb Real-Time-Strategy (RTS) game Starcraft 2, but you’ve always found the prospect too intimidating to pony up the dough, then fret no more; you can now play it for free.

No, this isn’t a cruel prank.

Head over to the developer’s website, Battle.net, and you can play the SCII: Starter Edition for free. As the packages title would suggest, you don’t get the full fat version of Starcraft 2, with every ounce of content available to paying customers. Instead, you gain access to the following:

  • The first four missions of the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty single-player campaign
  • The first two Challenges: Tactical Command and Covert Ops.
  • Access to the Terran race in Custom Games and Single-Player vs. AI.
  • Access to the four custom maps

This means that while you won’t be able to play ranked matches against other players in the multiplayer, you will be able to beat the hell out of your friends – provided they own either a copy of the full game or the Starter Edition. If your mate owns the Heart Of The Storm expansion, you can play with that expansions extra units to bring your RTS skills completely up to speed.

In a way, Blizzard offering a free version of Starcraft 2 makes sense. In recent years, the audience for eSports has ballooned to the hundreds of millions and industry pundits say that figure is only likely to increase in the future.

Right now, Blizzard has three eSports IPs in the market – World Of Warcraft,  Hearthstone and Starcraft – with a fourth up in the air – Heroes Of The Storm. Out those four franchises in the market, the only game that wasn’t free in some shape or form was Starcraft 2. That is, up until now…