According to Blizzard's executive vice president of game design Rob Pardo, the StarCraft II Marketplace will launch on the revamped Battle.net service once the game officially ships in 2010. Pardo said that the Marketplace would not be included with the retail game until after launch to prevent further delays.
Eurogamer reports that the idea behind the Marketplace is to provide both free and "premium" maps for users to purchase and download; it's also a means for creators to generate a little revenue on the side, as a portion of the sale will go directly into their pockets.
"It's something we've had in development for a little while. It really predates even the new Battle.net vision, if you go back to some of the success that the company's had with WarCraft III," Blizzard's Greg Canessa told Shacknews during BlizzCon 2009. "The mod community was huge. It was a huge part of the success of WarCraft III. [Defense of the Ancients] and other mods have been the reason why that game is still popular today."
Both Pardo and Canessa draw up comparisons with Day of Defeat and Counter-Strike, explaining that creators with larger budgets could possibly extend the shelf-life of StarCraft II's multiplayer aspect. Apparently, Blizzard also wants to steal amateur game designers away from other PC platforms including Steam.
Pardo added that while there may be plenty of free maps available on the Marketplace as well, the popular freebies could possibly be injected with matchmaking or achievements by Blizzard.