I was vaguely interested in giving Diablo 3 a try, but Blizzard are still asking £45 for it. These action RPGs are something I approach pretty casually – I’m not going to play solidly for weeks finding the optimum DPS builds for different classes, I’m just happy to charge through the game once or twice on Regular difficulty. So I’m not willing to commit that much cash. I went for Torchlight 2 instead, for a mere £15 on steam.

While I was rummaging around the Battle.net site, however, I was reminded of the selection of Blizzard’s other games you can buy and download there. There are their two other major current titles, of course, WoW and Starcraft 2. Also you can also buy some older titles: Warcraft 3, Diablo 2 and Starcraft, plus expansion packs. Of that set I think these days I’d most enjoy replaying Warcraft 3, which had one of the best story-driven campaigns I’ve seen in a realtime strategy.

Also if you already own an old CD copy of any of those, you can enter the CD-key and it registers with battle.net, letting you download the game at leisure. A useful backup feature then. I stumbled across an extra bonus though: since Starcraft is now packaged with its expansion as a single Anthology item, when I entered the key for just the vanilla game, Battle.net decided I now own the anthology!

Sadly though you can’t go further back into Blizzard’s history. I’d have thought that, say, bundling the first two warcraft games together for a few quid would gain a bit of interest. The first suffers from an early, frustrating interface but the second is a much slicker example of mid-90s RTS. Also the early games establish the world later used by the MMO, and the battles that occur make up Wow’s immediate past. So for example, if you’ve been questing in the ruins of Stromgarde, you can go back to Warcraft 2 and see how it got ruined in the first place.

Some might enjoy the original Diablo also. Its spell system predates the current trend for finely tuned Talent Trees and as I recall your character was stuck at a movement speed of “steady march”. which was annoying as hell when chasing fleeing enemies. Still it managed to feel quite dark and forboding, as you descended through a massive complex of creepy crypts, ever further underground.

It’s the usual argument in favour of making oldies available – sure they’re not going to generate enormous revenue, but the costs won’t be much, either. Fix whatever compatibility issues you need for modern windows (iirc the only one of these to predate win95 is the original Warcraft), wrap up in a battle.net installer. Sounds like a month’s work for a couple of eager interns to me. (he says, knowing nothing about programming). Then sit back and enjoy the run of impulse nostalgia buys from people who, ahem, already have like 24 unplayed oldies sat on their GOG.com shelf…