At one of many StarCraft II launch press events held in South Korea recently, Blizzard announced that all active World of Warcraft subscribers in that country will receive StarCraft II free of charge.

Chris Sigaty describes the gesture as “a way of giving something back to such a supportive and skilled community of players.”

Due to the peculiarities of Korean gaming it also makes financial sense.

By default – and given the popularity of net cafe gaming there - StarCraft II will be released in Korea in both retail and free-to-download, pay-to-play (microtransaction) forms. By tying StarCraft II “subscriptions” to players’ World of Warcraft subscriptions, everybody wins – particularly as Blizzard’s behemoth MMO faces stiff competition from locally developed alternatives there.

Given that microtransaction gaming is extremely uncommon in the West, it’s unlikely the formula will ever make it to these shores.