A significant soundbyte from the Valencia eSports Congress may have lasting implications on the future of StarCraft II. Blizzard lead designer of StarCraft II, Dustin Browder, dropped a quote saying that Blizzard is, "looking at free to play as an option for the multiplayer." Considering the game is one of the largest, most popular eSports games in the world, a free-to-play multiplayer option could have a huge impact.
Browder elaborated on the potential business model of a free-to-play StarCraft II, and why it's still just an idea:
"We don’t know how we would monetise it. While it might be good fun for me to play against someone with only half the units available to them, that’s not going to be an enjoyable experience for them."
Considering that Blizzard is on the cusp of releasing the first StarCraft II expansion, Brood Wa -- err, Heart of the Swarm, maybe there's a potential option. Release a free-to-play StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty without any of the Battle.net ranking systems and flourishes. Maybe allow folk to buy into month long leagues, or to add other features. Building hype for the expansions could be the best investment.
Honestly, this news isn't too surprising, because every company that provides online multiplayer should be at least considering some sort of free-to-play right now. That's not to say all online games should be free-to-play, as that just won't work for everybody, but it's still a decision that should be evaluated. Hopefully Blizzard will elaborate on this issue in the coming months.