Blizzard has announced that The Arcade is now free for everyone in Starcraft 2. For those of you unaware what The Arcade is, it is essentially a collection of mini-games and custom maps within Starcraft 2, but more importantly it is also the access to modding tools for people looking to create their own games. This is an exciting move for the franchise in my opinion, with Blizzard finally completely opening up what was one of the most entertaining parts of the original Starcraft – custom maps and mini-games.
The custom maps section of Blizzard games (not just Starcraft 1 and 2, but the Warcraft titles as well), have provided some of the most entertaining aspects of the game. In the case of Warcraft 3, the popular custom map DotA long sustained a multiplayer game that never gained much traction and kept the game relevant for much longer than it would have been without. DotA has itself since become its own independent game released on Steam last year.
Given the widespread successes that many of the custom games have had, and the fact that a very successful custom map can keep a game relevant for years after its release (like Warcraft 3), I find it surprising that Blizzard doesn’t just include the package as a free to use feature from the start. Perhaps this policy will change in the future, but for now, it is a good day for Starcraft 2 modders and gamers.