Blizzard Squishes ‘World of StarCraft’ Mod

By Alec Meer on January 19th, 2011 at 12:15 pm.

So apparently it’s not cool to make StarCraft mods with the StarCraft modkit – or at least not if you call them ‘World of StarCraft.’ That name was just begging for trouble, let’s be honest. Duly, trouble happened, it happened fast and it happened hard. After becoming a brief internet sensation, the creator of the StarCraft 2 MMO mod we posted about yesterday woke up to a clutch of copyright infringement notices from Activision-Blizzard, via YouTube. Ouch.

So far, this means his work-in-progress videos have been pulled, and that’s all. The project hasn’t been forcibly shut down and its forum is still active, but it’s unclear for now if development will continue.

It’s incredibly important to note that, at this stage, we don’t know exactly why this has happened. Obviously people are going to want to leap to certain dramatic conclusions (i.e. ‘OMG they’re making their own World of StarCraft!’), but I’d be very, very wary of making such presumptions until we hear more. I’d be much more willing to bet this is a precautionary measure rather than some great revelation – after all, letting anything bear that name means Blizzard essentially couldn’t ever use it themselves, whether or not they have current plans to. It’s never nice to see megacorps wielding this kind of muscle instead of allowing fans to celebrate and promote their products, but it’s hardly unprecedented.

I’ve asked Blizzard for details. We’ll see what happens.

Here’s what lead modder Ryan got from YouTube a few hours ago:

ATTENTION
We have received copyright complaint(s) regarding material you posted, as follows:

from Activision Games Inc about World of Starcraft Pre-Alpha Trailer – CreationArtist25
Video ID: RU1dSXU_Bk0
from Activision Games Inc about World of Starcraft Character Selection Screen – CreationArtist25
Video ID: 37dp_5E5NvQ
from Activision Games Inc about Starcraft 2 ATB Battle System MOD – ‘POWER OVERWHELMING’ – CreationArtist25
Video ID: BTl7YWYFnP8
Please note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos you have uploaded. Please delete any videos for which you do not own the necessary rights, and refrain from uploading infringing videos.

Intellectual property law: not a lot of fun. I can’t find a specific World of StarCraft trademark filing from Blizzard, but their general StarCraft one seems pretty all-encompassing.

Again, I’m not surprised: using ‘World of StarCraft’ as a title was brave, to say the very least. However you may personally feel about copyright law (and there is an awful lot to hate about it), it is law. I’m guessing – and guessing only – that this is about the name and logo and whatnot rather than the project’s actual existence: ‘World of StarCraft’ is a phrase Blizzard will want to protect, whether because of something of they’re working on or just in case they ever do want to work on it. It’s understandable, to a point.

What I don’t like one bit is that the modders were informed in this rather brutal way. I’m sure a polite email from Blizzard asking if they could please change this and this and this would likely have achieved the same thing without freaking some poor bloke out.

So there’s also Ryan’s lengthy response over on his forum, a few extracts of which I’ll quote below. Not convinced he’s totally aware of why this has happened, but who knows.

You created a tool that allowed us to do anything with your assets. You encouraged us to use your assets and were eager to see what we might come up with. You had to have seen this coming?

I know it’s hard to trust someone you’ve never met to piggyback on your own legacy. The brilliance of StarCraft combined with the multiplayer focus of World of Warcraft. You might be a little worried about your lore being butchered… or even more-so worried about a guy with no supervision tainting the name of your company with poor product.

Let me assure you that I am in no way shape or form going to deliver anything less than complete perfection. I’ve been following your work since Warcraft. I’ve worked with every editor you’ve put out since I was 13 years old.

If you have a problem with what I am doing… or would like to talk about it. I’m all ears. But please don’t send me some messenger with a cease and desist letter.

In a separate post, he sets out his current thinking on the mod’s future:

“If Blizzard/Activision doesn’t want this to happen then it won’t. This game HAS to be pumped through the veins of battle.net to work. I hope and pray that we can come to an understanding here. If they want the name changed then I’ll change it.”

Yes, well.

Again, we’ve asked Blizzard for a statement. More soon, maybe.

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186 Comments »

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  1. The Hammer says:

    ‘POWER OVERWHELMING’

    Yep, that’s Activision’s lawyers, alright…

    Poor show.

    • omicron1 says:

      Is the “ATB battle system MOD” part of the WoS mod? Or is Activision simply blindly attacking everything this guy has done with Starcraft 2 in an attempt to bury him and remove him from the public eye?

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I see it as their* Blitzkrieg. Same delusional insanity. Same overwhelming power at first, running over everything, trying to control everything, …and in the end the same too few people for too much stuff to hold, being run over by just about the whole rest of the world.
      (* where “their” is the media Mafia)

  2. Premium User Badge

    Ging says:

    It was destined to happen as soon as he chose to give it that particular name, though a mod with that name was also destined too.

  3. Urael says:

    It’s very hard not to think the chap involved is an idiot. Under precisely what circumstances did he think this would be tolerated? Fair enough, mod the game but don’t instigate large scale projects using their own IP.

    No sympathy here.

    • Jsnuk says:

      You sir, are a monster.

    • Zaboomafoozarg says:

      We don’t want Your Kind here. Get out.

    • Tinker says:

      How about the circumstances in which he’s creating the game using Starcraft assets provided to him by the company who’s “copyright” he’s infringing, using a an editor provided for him by the company who’s “copyright” he’s infringing, designed to play similar to a game created by said company, on a game owned by said company. There is no “World of Starcraft” so he’s not ripping that off. If I make any starcraft mod and use Starcraft ANYWHERE in the title am I infringing on their copyright.

      I understand where Blizzard is coming from, but maybe they should speak to the people in their community before wigging out and throwing a legal temper tantrum. A nicely worded desist e-mail written from anyone with any power that is dated could have asked him to change the title and protected their rights just as well without all the hub-bub legal posturing towards one of their fans.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      It’s not about being “tolerated”. It’s about the fact that if you back down every time a criminal/bully threatens you, you’ll soon be left with nothing. This is just as much true for the media Mafia. They think they can just enforce their perverse delusional rules upon the world, even though they are a tiny tiny group of people. And their delusions only become true, if you give in to them! So you don’t give in, even if it costs your life! Sparta style!

      The creator just wasn’t very smart about making himself non-attackable. But then again, maybe he was, since it was clear that YouTube would have no spine*, and that really, illegally taking down a few videos wouldn’t change a thing.
      I mean how could they possibly stop him, if the mod homepage showed not relation to any actual humans and the hoster was some offshore server or proxy?

      Oh well, in a few years, the insanity will have been fallen apart. You can only say “there is no wall” while banging your head against it all the time for so long, before you die from skull fracture and internal bleeding, or are put away in a insanity asylum.

      The only thing lacking from a certain analogy between the media Mafia and another group of bullies, is some brown shirts or hats with skulls and crossbones.
      (* Just as IBM and other big companies had no spine and worked for the Nazis back then.)

    • Urael says:

      Jsnuk: Thank you. You’re too kind.

      Zaboomafoozarg: No. Make me.

      Tinker: I’m not sure what idealistic dreamworld you inhabit where game publishers are lovely respectful liberal people but in terms of cold hard reality what Blizzard did was fairly gentle.

      BAReFOOt. For the sake of us all, seek professional help. Let’s not drag another of your paranoid conspiracies into this.

  4. Ian says:

    “Let me assure you that I am in no way shape or form going to deliver anything less than complete perfection. I’ve been following your work since Warcraft. I’ve worked with every editor you’ve put out since I was 13 years old.”

    Is he intentionally being…. well… like THAT or does he just come across as a bit of a bell-end?

    But anyway, he’s right that Blizz must have seen this sort of thing coming and I agree that they could have gone about this in a much less clinical fashion. Though he too must have seen THIS coming.

    I don’t know what to think of the whole thing, really.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Bozzley says:

    I’d play Star of CraftWorld.

  6. Jonathan says:

    He lost my respect right around here: “Let me assure you that I am in no way shape or form going to deliver anything less than complete perfection. I’ve been following your work since Warcraft. I’ve worked with every editor you’ve put out since I was 13 years old.”

    Actually, he lost my respect with his petulant “You had to have seen this coming?” but that part struck me as a particularly poor argument.

    • rocketman71 says:

      Well, you lost my respect with this comment. And Blizzard, with StarCraft 2.

      Respect is a flimsy thing.

    • Eclipse says:

      Yeah he’s indubitably a real pro developer, you know, he played a lot of warcraft.

      What I admire is at least the level of dedication and passion for Blizzard products.
      I’m a game developer myself, and I find modding quite restrictive. Also the software house that actually made the game basically owns your stuff when you don’t even use custom models

    • Derek Smart says:

      uhm ,no, he DOES have a point. If they didn’t want people making stuff out of the kit they provided, why did they provide it in the first place?

      This is just heavyhanded bullshit; but my guess is that they probably have a Starcraft MMO in the works.

    • icdragon says:

      I respect you all the more for standing up for what you believe in.
      Good on you, chap(s)!

  7. Archonsod says:

    Probably they did see it coming. Hence why they had cease and desist templates on standby

    • opel says:

      Yeah, the main reason they made the galaxy editor was to give their lawyers something to do.

      If they didn’t like the name “World of Starcraft” they could have added it to their censor. They already block plenty of words from existing anywhere in a map. For instance, you can’t have a variable named “white” because that’s clearly racist. We don’t want any variables to get their feelings hurt.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      White is clearly not racist. It is the most-multicultural thing ever as white is all colours combined (so spaketh the cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark side of the Moon).

      Obvious Blizzard are warmongers, since they do not like colours intermingling.

    • GoodPatton says:

      @UW: If this mod became direct competition with WoW, than yes in-fact, this is about protecting IPs and protecting stock.

      I think most people will agree that this is a pretty silly cease and desist, but I also think most people can see where and why it comes from.

      Like Alec says, whether or not you like copyright and intellectual property laws, they stand for a reason. More and more it’s apparent that ActiBlizzard feigns interest in community creativity and is truly only interested in profiting from that community.

  8. Longrat says:

    Copyright laws and all, bulldozing some poor bloke who would’ve obviously not made any profit out of this and done it solely out of admiration and inspiration from you is an incredibly asshole-ish thing to do. Not very surprised at this, now that blizzard has become an EVIL MEGACORPORATION now that it fused its soul with the black diamond that is ACTIVISION.

    Can’t help but be reminded of how Tim Buckley, the egomaniacal talentless asshat that makes that one webcomic sent his dad’s lawyer at some poor kid because he made some fan art of his comics. No proportion at all between the circumstance and consequence.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Bulldozing? They took down a few Youtube videos, I’d hardly call that bulldozing. They didn’t sue him, they didn’t even CnD him, they used a DMCA takedown notice, which is the legal equivalent of a mild slap on the wrist.

      It’s basic brand confusion. People are historically stupid and will not realise that this is a mod, particularly when you name it something so official and it’s clearly using recognisable Blizzard assets. He was incredibly naive to name it in such a way and will have no trouble continuing the mod under a different name, but by the sounds of his reply, he’d rather stomp his feet and make a fuss. Shame really, seems like a talented guy who should have known better.

    • DrazharLn says:

      I agree with Mr Biscuit. Blizzard could have been nicer by contacting the creator directly, but really they’re just protecting their brand and their trademark. They have a legal obligation, even, to protect their trademark.

    • Pie21 says:

      Agree with TB (unfortunate abbreviation). Obviously they will take issue with someone releasing trailers for something so Blizzard-sounding. The very least he could do was put the word “MOD” in the title somewhere.

      If Blizzard were serious about shutting him down, he’d be receiving a lot more letters regarding things other than YouTube videos.

    • Wulf says:

      I don’t agree. I think that’s having no faith in people whatsoever. I think that the vast majority will realise that this is a mod if it’s mentioned that it is a mod. I don’t think that anyone could possibly confuse this with an official brand from Blizzard. This was done because of the possibility yes, but that possibility is infinitesimal. We’re not living in a sane world, we’re living in one dominated on unethical and overbearing IP law – which I think is getting worryingly Orwellian in its approach.

      There were mods that used Half-Life in their name but did Valve go nuts? By TotalBiscuit’s logic, the Concerned comic should’ve been pulled for brand confusion, lest people think that it’s an official comic from Valve. Then you have stuff like Black Mesa, which Valve have been totally okay with. This is absolute proof that just because the IP laws exist, it doesn’t mean that you have to use them to be a prick. I think that Valve’s example is the one to follow. Not Blizzard’s.

      And let’s please not excuse Blizzard from unethical acts just because they’re good at social engineering and you’ve been hacked to feel all gooey inside whenever you see their name. Blizzard is built upon unethical acts and this is something that many people know but few bother to actually say. To be honest, it’d be a happy day for me if Blizzard buggered off to the consoles and started making exclusive games for them. Perhaps then you’d all suddenly switch your allegiance around and actually pull the veil off yer eyes. :P

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It would certainly be a different situation if the lawyers had motorboated him instead.

    • Maykael says:

      I think there wouldn’t have been any fuss about this if this takedown notice would’ve be accompanied by a letter from Blizzard (not some detached lawyer) stating the reasons. It’s a bit disappointing that Blizz chose to act this way. I understand it’s a business and that money is the ultimate point etc., but being nice to your customers goes a long way (look at Valve).

    • Premium User Badge

      UW says:

      From a business perspective, I think this is less about protecting assets and IPs than people seem to suggest. This guy wants to release an MMORPG in a similar vein to WoW for free. Depending on how it turned out, this could end up in direct competition with WoW for a player’s attention. Losing them money, but using their own assets. A name like World of Starcraft is only going to attract WoW players even more.

      Anyone who plays WoW is constantly paying Activision, so if they can sabotage a well-made MMO in anyway, it would probably make sense. I’m sure a mod as far removed from SC2 as this is not something they anticipated.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Sup Wulf. Let me tell you this from experience, being the purveyer of a fairly large WoW Youtube channel.

      WoW is full of fucking idiots who cannot and/or refuse to read. Among the various things that have happened over the past month including a large group of people which supposedly had a few parents in it as well, complaining about a video I made about a fake achievement, which was blatantly and obviously fake in every respect, yet they still believed it anyway, to the point where they ‘complained ot Youtube’ about being mislead. No, the vast majority would not realise it wasn’t official.

      “Don’t excuse Blizzard from unethical acts just because they’re good at social engineering and you’ve been hacked to feel all gooey inside whenever you see their name.”

      Oh actually never mind, you’re actually just being an idiot. Silly me. A tip for future debates. You won’t find a bigger critic of Blizzard but the thing about being a critic is, you’re supposed to be objective, as opposed to crazy. Crazy would be say… claiming that anyone who defends Blizzard on any decision has been “hacked” by Blizzard, brainwashed in some way. What are you… 12?

    • Flint says:

      Naw, he’s just been all socially engineered and hacked to feel all gooey inside by ArenaNet.

    • The Hammer says:

      Is “Blizzard are social engineers” your go at “Alarm Clock Britain,” Wulf?

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Hey! Asking if 12 is what people are is my schtick!

      I use it when people use ‘gay’ as a casual insult.

      It’s social terraforming on a minute and almost totally ineffectual scale.

    • Jeremy says:

      I’m actually shocked that we’re at a point where defending property has become unethical.

    • Torgen says:

      Good Lord, people, where is your common sense in this? Biscuit has it totally right. This mod would be using Blizzard’s own servers to operate, with a name directly invoking their largest franchise, and you people want to demonize Blizzard over this. If you had any understanding of copyright law at all, you’d realize that to preserve copyright and trademark, you must defend EVERY instance of infringement that comes to your attention. Ask the former owners of the words “aspirin” and “linoleum” what happens if you do not.

      Any company of Blizzard’s size, no matter what industry they are in, has an entire copyright department that is devoted to preserving the company’s ownership rights to their own products. I’d wager that no one on the gaming side of the company was even aware of the Youtube takedown letters until the nerdrage storm hit the Internet.

      Given the intelligence of the average gamer, it is entirely logical to assume that Blizzard tech support would be inundated with service tickets regarding this mod, as well as negatively affecting their most valuable property. The mod author obviously is lacking in common sense, in the first place naming his mod what he did, and secondly thinking that he was going to be allowed to use Blizzard server assets for free to run a MMO. The server resources needed dwarf that needed for Starcraft matches, and could possibly adversely affect the gaming experience for Starcraft players. Would you have Blizzard buy extra server capacity to accommodate this kid?

      This whole episode is typical disregard of the actual realities of the business of computer entertainment and is similar to the mindset of people who DDoS Minecraft.net over Notch daring take a vacation.

  9. HeavyStorm says:

    While some producers foster modders, like Valve has done over and over through the years, Activision Blizzard is being a bitch. Let’s us remember the DOTA2 incident.

    And my guess is: Activision is the problem. The old Blizz would’ve embraced the mod and who knows? Maybe offered help.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ging says:

      Pretty sure even the old Blizz would have taken issue with the use of “World of Starcraft”.

    • rocketman71 says:

      Pretty sure the old blizz would have asked to please change the name instead of sending a cease & desist.

    • MrMud says:

      So what would have happened if a modder came out and promoted his Half-Life: Episode 3 mod?

    • Wulf says:

      Fact: Blizzard likes to kick modders in the nuts.

      Check out World of Warcraft. I was once pointed at an entertaining timeline of patches that were released solely due to mods that Blizzard disagreed with, how the community cleverly adapted to these changes, accepting them and making variations, only to be kicked by Blizzard while they were down. Months and months of work being destroyed by the uncaring corporate entity.

      But that’s Blizzard for you. They don’t exist to foster mods or be nice. They exist to make money. The thing is is that I understand that all companies exist to make money, but some do so by actually convincing me that they’re worth my money by being the most marvelous people ever. Some are actually very good at doing this. Blizzard just uses social engineering to hook people on drugs.

      I think in a generation or two, the tactics Blizzard uses are going to be laid bare, and possibly even be made illegal on unethical grounds. :p This is just something I’m glad I see right through, really. What they do has never worked on me, I’ve always seen through it – and sometimes I wonder if that’s because the way in which my brain is broken makes it much more difficult to addict me to something.

      But yes. Why be nice when you’re a master of social engineering? Blizzard motto right there.

    • Longrat says:

      @MrMud
      Hardly the same thing. There’s a difference between taking concepts from a name and actually stealing a name that’s assuredly intended on being used in the future. It’s like the difference between calling a game “Deus Ex 3: Human Revolution” and “Deus Ex: Reloaded”

      I’m certain valve would probably not throw a fit if someone would make a mod named “Half Life: Full Life Consequence”

    • mda says:

      A more comparable ‘what if’ would be if someone made a mod called “Left 4 Half-Life” … or “Left 4 Counter-Strike” … or Alien 4 Dead……… or……………….. Half-Portal…… lol.

      You are posting comments too quickly – no i’m not.

    • opel says:

      You’re John Freeman, and its a good day to do what has to be done by you and help your brother to defeat the enemys.

    • Longrat says:

      @mda
      To which I respond with: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lFkXFqHc9E&feature=player_embedded
      If valve weren’t upset at someone making not a “nod” to the games but a full demake of the game, and took it with stride, why can’t blizzard?

      Like I said, their black diamond infused soul has stopped caring about the little man.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      Will there be Monsters and Aliens?

    • Rich says:

      “Check out World of Warcraft. I was once pointed at an entertaining timeline of patches that were released solely due to mods that Blizzard disagreed with, how the community cleverly adapted to these changes, accepting them and making variations, only to be kicked by Blizzard while they were down. Months and months of work being destroyed by the uncaring corporate entity.”

      How game changing were these mods? Blizzard has to protect the integrity of their game, since a lot of people play and continue to pay for it. You should be able to mod a single-player game all you want, or even regular multi-player games, but a modded MMO might effect everyone.

    • Starky says:

      Ignore Wulf, seriously the guy is a massive tool who just plain makes shit up to bash Blizzard (and glorify guild wars) in every thread he can.

      Blizzard have done some of what he says, patched things to remove certain mods abilities to access certain things, like automating parts of the game, automatically clicking things (preventing auto/afk fishing for example), or stringing in game macro’s together into near hack level scripts (1 button hunter automation used by bots).

      On the other hand they’ve taken the best idea’s from the modding community (and sometimes with permission, even though they legally don’t need to ask at all) integrated the better features of mods into the default game/UI. usually simpler easier options, that both allow the original mod to still have an audience, and allow players who’d never install an addon the cool features of said mod.

      they are CONSTANTLY adding new functions and expanding the API for modders. The modding (macro and UI) forums for Wow (I no long play btw, I quit just after Wrath) were probably the only place where you could reliably get a Blizzard (blue) response for issues and bugs.

      Blizzard did a LOT of things wrong with WoW, and made some highly questionable design choices that frankly ruined the fun of the game for many, many players – but their Mod/UI addon support and work was nothing short of amazing, and blows every single other MMO developer out of the water by a large frigging mile.
      Seriously, not a single other MMO offers half the addon support that WoW did/does – Warhammer online sort of did, but it was pretty shitty, and half hearted. So Did age of Conan, which was even worse…
      Though the only one that I care about that doesn’t is EVE, which has by far the shittiest AI of almost any game I’ve ever played – second maybe only to dwarf fortress, but I only played half an hour of that (EVE is a great game, but seriously the UI is awful).

  10. Tei says:

    This is like Notch suing the dudes of World of Minecraft.
    But Notch is “one of us”, while these execs has lost contact with reality.

    Powerful people love to have Yes Men people around, and think are always right, and on the right. Is not new.

    • Pie21 says:

      One of us??? Notch hasn’t updated Minecraft in AT LEAST 15 minutes! I gave him SERIOUS CASH and I am ENTITLED by INTERNATIONAL LAW and UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS to MORE BLOCK TYPES! NOW!!!

      I’m so glad those days are over.

    • Ovno says:

      One of us
      One of us
      One of us
      One of us
      One of us
      One of us
      One of us
      One of us
      One of us
      One of us
      One of us

    • General Hidalgo says:

      You best be trollin’. Notch and his team of useless employees won’t even approve a halfway decent server mod for release.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      Is it SUPPOSED to be STICK DUDES?

    • Rich says:

      “You best be trollin’. Notch and his team of useless employees won’t even approve a halfway decent server mod for release.”

      Pot, meet Kettle. Kettle, this is Pot.

    • Premium User Badge

      frymaster says:

      or, from their point of view, “we aren’t going to approve of a third party distributing our server software”

      “mod” generally means a bunch of stuff that gets activated on an existing engine. What Bukkit (and to a lesser extent hmod, though legally they are the same) does is they’ve altered the server software and are re-hosting it. The from-the-hip response to that is always going to be “no”, since it’s against the conditions of use of the server software.

      Personally I’m still going to use things like that until there’s a mod API, at which point it depends how good the API is :P But that’s because I want goodies NOW!, not because I have any intrinsic right to them. Mojang is well within their rights and my expectations, here.

  11. rocketman71 says:

    Shocking!!!!. Or not really seeing how crippled SC2 was released.

    When will people realize that this is not Blizzard anymore?. This is Kotickzard, and the new rules apply.

    • Rich says:

      When Blizzard actually lose the autonomy they’ve clearly managed to retain. Sheesh, there is no conspiracy, 9/11 happened the way everyone says, and we definitely landed on the moon in the ’60s.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    Hold on, why do they need to issue copyright infringement notices?
    Isn’t there something in the EULA stating that everything made with the tools included with Starcraft is the property of Blizzard / Activision?
    Interestingly, if this is indeed the case, have they just dropped a legal faux pas, admitting that material created with the editor may in fact be the intellectual property of the creator?
    Oooooooo.
    My head hurts.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Pretty sure content made in the editor is the property of the creator, minus whatever assets belong to blizzard or other modders.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      EULAs are legally dubious things at best.

    • jalf says:

      No, they’re just saying “We don’t want some filthy unwashed modder to impersonate us. Don’t use our IP to make games that people might mistake as being made *by* us.”

      When some fan goes “Hey, Starcraft was great, and WoW was great, I wonder if Blizzard has any plans to combine them into a World of Starcraft”, Blizzard doesn’t want them to discover some, by Blizzards’ standards, poorly made mod and think that it is in any way an official product.

  13. Daniel Carvalho says:

    I saw this coming. In fact, I thought Blizzard was going to react fast, and they did.

    I think this has very little to do with the name, and more to do with the mod itself. Any mod built on StarCraft II technology is going to bare the StarCraft name somewhere.

    What sold me on the idea that Blizzard was going to react quickly was how uncannily similar the author got the mod to function and look so much like World of Warcraft. Blizzard is worried about competition. Yes, Blizzard could make a much more polished game, but fans might gripe about features and gameplay mechanics missing from the retail game that the mod presented. Because it is quite possible the mod could have some ideas even better than what Blizzard come up with. Which would create future conflict for Blizzard.

    It’s too close to home, and could cause competitive strains. But I don’t really agree with the position Blizzard has taken, especially their execution in “handling” the matter. But this isn’t the Blizzard from yesteryear. They’re a big corporation amalgamated with Activision, whom (I think) lost its heart shortly after World of Warcraft.

    I do think the mod author missed an opportunity though, to call the game something like:

    Universe of Starcraft.

    Or something else within the sci-fi theme.

    • MrMud says:

      wow… (no pun intended)

      This is so utterly crazy I can hardly comprehend it.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      You have provided literally nothing to substantiate what is little more than a wacko conspiracy theory.

    • Daniel Carvalho says:

      Hahaha. You’ve got to read what I said I little closer. At face value, it does sound crazy. I’m not proposing that the mod author can make the game better than Blizzard, but conceptually, the ideas in the game, and the striking similarity of gameplay, can very easily be an issue. Honestly, graphically, it’s running on a newer engine than WOW, and gameplay-wise, even in its early stage of development, is almost exactly like WOW.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Hmm nope, still crazy, sorry.

    • Mac says:

      Another candidate for the bus with the padded walls and square wheels …

    • Daniel Carvalho says:

      You telling me you can’t see any possible conflict?! Like say the mod author came up with an ability for a race or class in the game to say, I don’t know, devour an enemy unit in 10 seconds or something. And then when Blizzard comes up with the same idea on their own (which is highly likely), that that wouldn’t look suspicious to players. Blizzard could be accused of ripping off ideas, or, the mod may ruin the fresh surprise of Blizzard showing something like that first in one of their titles.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      There is no possible conflict because he can’t release an MMO. What about this is difficult to understand? WoW runs on thousands upon thousands of servers with an incredibly complex and difficult to maintain architecture. It is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to create an MMO this way. There is no competition because this is not an MMO and never will be.The maximum player size a Battle.net map can support is, if I remember correctly, either 14 or 16. Explain again how this is somehow ‘competing’ with WoW.

    • Duffin says:

      ‘World of Starcraft’ is absolutely a name they want to protect. The name alone is worth millions, even if they never work on it they could sell it for a massive sum.

    • Daniel Carvalho says:

      @TotalBiscuit Yeah, as I thought, you totally don’t get what I’m talking about. I probably should have used a word other than, “competition”, but I thought the extensive elaborations would clear things up for you.

      I’m not talking about two games fighting neck-and-neck competitively in the marketplace. You missed the point.

      It is the possible overlap of ideas, concepts and elements that the games may share. Regardless of whether it is a MMO or not.

      And last I checked, I normally don’t play with everyone on a server in WoW, even though they may be around (adding background life), but a handful of friends at a time. And in the smaller maps World of Starcraft might offer, that works out just fine.

  14. Teddy Leach says:

    I saw that one coming.

    I think it’s more the concept of the thing, rather than the name. I agree: I’m not convinced he knows 100% why this has happened.

  15. Wulf says:

    Had to happen due to the unethical and overbearing nature of IP law.

    Not so much of a shame though.

    The bigger shame was the loss of Chrono Resurrection (Chrono Trigger remake/sequel). That still makes me feel a little sad whenever I think about it.

  16. gulag says:

    Just hire the guy. Game over.

  17. Hoaxfish says:

    Next up: Little Big Planet 2 closes down any levels which make reference to Little, Big, or Planetary things.

    I’d avoid any Planet of the Big Little things if anyone was thinking of heading that way.

    Also, those attempting to do Everything on the PS3 will soon be receiving C&D letters.

    I guess they’re probably making sure they don’t get another DotA scenario.

  18. DeanLearner says:

    Change the name and all will be ok. Planet of Sun Construction!

    If Activision has shareholders, they have to protect their assets and this includes trademarks/names.

    • Wulf says:

      Well, they don’t necessarily have to, do they? A few nice words at a shareholders meeting could possibly convince them that a C&D letter would do far more harm to their brand than something like this would.

      Blargh, this is why I prefer Valve’s approach to how a company is run.

      Valve don’t exercise legal fappery every time someone creates a mod or some content with Half-Life or Team Fortress in it, and this has happened many, many times. They could have, but they don’t. A lot of that is to do with that they don’t have shareholders.

      I think the moral of the story is to treat any company that has shareholders like the most vile and unscrupulous enemy one could have.

    • Jae Armstrong says:

      No, they HAVE to. Failure to “take all steps necessary to protect the copyright in the Work”, results in the loss of that copyright. If they hadn’t shut this guy down now, they might have lost all rights to the Starcraft IP. The “World of Starcraft” name would have been commercially untouchable at the very least.

    • Walsh says:

      You are close. Trademarks must be defended or they fall into common use, the biggest example is Xerox bringing their trademark back from the brink of oblivion. You’ll notice no documentation says xerox a document, they all say photocopy etc.

      Copyright is automatically protected.

    • Archonsod says:

      The other problem they could face by letting it go ahead is if they ever did do a World of Starcraft MMO they’d be opening themselves to charges of plagiarism.

  19. Dozer says:

    What a shame.

  20. jon_hill987 says:

    They are just bitter because they didn’t trademark DOTA before Valve.

    • Wulf says:

      And just you watch, Valve are going to be totally cool about that, they’re going to use that trademark but they’re not going to kill a single mod that uses ‘DOTA’.

      It bugs me that anyone would consider Blizzard’s actions to be acceptable, shareholders or no. It just goes to prove what I say about them being masters of social engineering, really. It’s what they do. They don’t make games, they make metagames out of people which they play.

    • Flappybat says:

      After reading about this I can’t find how Valve have any legitimate claim to the name of DOTA. The guy they hired didn’t create the mod, he wasn’t even one of the first developers.

  21. Dodoman says:

    They can name it StarWorld or something.

  22. HBogard says:

    Hilarious:
    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/104653-Blizzard-Valve-Shouldnt-Trademark-DotA

    This action from a company that was condemning Valve for “stealing” an IP’s name from its community? Good show.

    • Wulf says:

      Funny, isn’t it?

      And like I said above, Valve is going to be very protective of modders that use DOTA, they’re actually going to nurture them rather than shut them down, as is Valve’s wont.

      Blizzard? Well… we would’ve said bye to any unofficial mod carrying the DOTA name if Blizzard had snapped up that as a copyright/trademark.

      It’s just making them burn up inside about all the cease and desist letters they can’t send now. :P

    • tungstenHead says:

      Actually, Blizzard being miffed about Valve trademarking DOTA and this fellow using World of Starcraft are matters of the exact same structure. You’re just looking at it from the wrong angles.

      DOTA belongs to the mod community because it was generated by that community and it should be free to be used by anyone in the community without any consternation or worry of any sort over potential trademark violations because *the community made it*. Valve’s trademarking of the name “DOTA 2″ interferes with that. Blizzard (outside party) voices this position.

      World of Starcraft is a portmanteau of existing Blizzard franchises and, reasonably speaking, it should belong to Blizzard because *Blizzard made it* (more or less). This fellow’s “World of Starcraft” mod interferes with that.

      In both cases, I think that Blizzard is properly cognisant of who the trademark should belong to: the group that originally made the trademark. I understand the arguable ownership of DOTA belonging to Icefrog, but there are so many permutations of DOTA that it’s a stronger argument that it belongs to the community.

      It is not sensible to condemn Blizzard for the end result that they seek to achieve here and it is not fair to condemn a corporation for being impersonal because, hey! Corporations ain’t peeps. Would it be more polite to be less impersonal? Sure! But I don’t think you can argue that people must be warm and kind in every matter on the face of the Earth. Sometimes, business has got to be business. It’s Blizzard’s prerogative to attend to this matter in the manner that they wish. But it is completely and utterly inarguable to say that Blizzard has done something truly wrong. At the very least, this is a grey area. Calling the takedown notices “mean” or “not nice” or “a bit of a shame” is fair, but don’t call it “wrong”, because it isn’t.

  23. fenriz says:

    …and he would have been beheaded if it were for me, guilty of assuming that a MMO of starcraft should be nothing but yet another wowarcraft clone.

  24. bjohndooh says:

    This looks kinda like DMCA abuse to me.
    At least I don’t believe there’s anything about the video itself that makes it any more copyright infringing than plenty of other Starcraft 2 videos on youtube.
    If the title itself is really their objection I think this was handled about as poorly as it could be, but I really expect no better from Activision at this point.

    • Wulf says:

      I completely and utterly agree with you.

      Frankly, I’m glad there are a few people around here that aren’t hacked. It’s actually good to see people standing up and saying that this is wrong on unethical and potentially even illegal grounds. I mean, I was bored by the concept of this, it makes me twitchy and irritable, but does that mean I want to see it obliterated?

      Hell no. Unlike the vast gaming majority, I’m not that petty. I can stomach something I don’t like existing, and even that others might actually find some enjoyment in it. And as much as it bothers me, I’d still have preferred to see the mod continue than have Blizzard send their lawyers chasing after it. (Possibly only to fap afterwards, like some kind of lawyer-porn.)

      Things that I strongly dislike and even hate should exist providing that they’re not unethical and not causing harm to people. Of course, there’s the question as to whether World of Warcraft is unethical by it’s very nature – but a modder couldn’t possibly utilise social engineering like Blizzard has, so I can’t see it being particularly evil. :P

      (And this is just my lefty side speaking, here. You know, the old ‘even if I don’t subjectively like what you do, I’ll still support your right to be and do on ethical grounds’. It kind of proves what I’ve said about a worrying amount of gamers apparently seeming to veer to the extreme right.)

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Ermm, it can still exist, it just has to change it’s name. This is mountain out of molehile material resulting directly from the fact that Activision are within 1000 miles of it. Real potential to cause brand confusion, a few Youtube takedown notices (again, these are VERY minor and incredibly easy to do, sent 5 of my own last week for people stealing my videos and reuploading em with links to trojans), just rename the thing and there will no longer be an issue. The modder freaking out and going on this fanboi rage as well as the gaming community’s propensitiy to blow all things out of proportion has lead to this discussion going on way longer than it should.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Biscuit speaks the truth. It wasn’t your lefty side speaking Wulf, you just didn’t read the article properly.

    • Ian says:

      I like that Wulf thinks being a reasonable, intelligent, perceptive person largely consists of saying anybody who has a different opinion’s brain has been hacked.

    • Urael says:

      Ha, yes. It’s somewhat ironic that that kind of dismissive put-down labelling is a tactic that evolved from the Right wing of politics, not the Left, and seems to totally contradict his ‘respect of your right to have a conflicting opinion’.

      As ever with Wulf the light is on but the hamster is long since dead.

  25. Nevarion says:

    Where worlds collide… Reminds me of a high profile banker visiting a public school for a discussion. They parted ways with him stating, that ‘they live in different worlds’. Either side had valid, logical and causally determined arguments for THEIR point of view on the state of, well, the world as is.

    In the end it comes down to your own core values.

  26. Dreamhacker says:

    Intellectual property law: Not a lot of room for innovation.

  27. Pijama says:

    Once again…

    Folks, BUSINESSMEN =! DEVELOPERS.

    The guy was stupid, could have named that mod anything else, but no, he preferred to give ammo to the lawyers. So what?

    Hell, things considered, ActiBlizzard’s own legal department probably did the job alone without contacting any of the developers. Exactly what their investors expect them to do!

  28. Premium User Badge

    Napalm Sushi says:

    I dearly hope that our descendants are able look back on the term “intellectual property” the same way we look back on terms like “impressment” and “divine right”.

  29. Flappybat says:

    It’s not a cease and desist so the mod itself has not been challenged legally, only the videos have been requested to be taken down.

    I think this is actually just an automatic response from their lawyers to the combination of the name World of Starcraft with the use of Starcraft visuals. I doubt they even noticed it was a mod.

  30. Premium User Badge

    Eric says:

    Like some of the other folks here, I lose interest right around the point where he gets all “don’t you send some lackey with a cease and desist to ME, don’t you know who I am?”

    He’s the one who should have “seen this coming.” I hope he gets to just change the name and keep working on something he enjoys, but to pretend their action wasn’t almost inevitable is kind of hilarious. It would have been genuinely shocking to see their legal team NOT react to this.

  31. pkt-zer0 says:

    Has it even been confirmed at this point that it’s actually Blizzard who made the copyright infringement claim? YouTube does little verification on that front – darksydephil got his account shut down based on copyright infringement notices that were all completely frivolous.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      The wording of the notice implies that the infringement claims came “from Activision Games Inc”. Unless Youtube allows abuse by impersonators, I’d say we can assume it was them.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      “Unless Youtube allows abuse by impersonators, I’d say we can assume it was them.”

      They do allow that, that’s what I’m saying. If you look around the official Capcom or Ubisoft forums, you’ll be able to find a couple of threads where they’re questioned about such infringement claims, and say they’ve had nothing to do with it.

      Here’s one guy having had his YT account shut down despite getting an explicit “okay” from Capcom: http://www.capcom-unity.com/ask_capcom/go/thread/view/7371/25070489/My_YouTube_account_closed_due_to_Final_Fight_copyright.

    • Archonsod says:

      That doesn’t mean they were impersonators. The people on official forums for any large corporation are generally the bottom ladder of the customer relations department. IP protection et al is usually in the legal department, and in the case of most large businesses they simply hire a legal firm to do the protection for them. The odds on communication between the two unless the word “lawsuit” is involved is incredibly slim.

      In fact it’s highly likely to be the same here. Activision are far more likely to hire an IP specialised legal firm to act on their behalf rather than actually have IP specialised lawyers on their own payroll.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      “The people on official forums for any large corporation are generally the bottom ladder of the customer relations department.”

      I’m not sure how that implies that YouTube actually checks the validity of these claims. Also, Sven in the above example would be “Corporate Officer and Vice-president of Strategic Planning & Business Development “, that should be good enough.

  32. killmachine says:

    my personal opinion is that the mod just looked too good. yesterday, when i saw the short video the first time i remembered when i first played world of warcraft. everything from warcraft 3 was there but it was from thirdperson and just bigger and more awsome. i thought the exact same thing when i saw the video from the starcraft mod. damn those “mechanical walker thingis” (i dont know the names) look cool in third person. its so huge and cool and stuff.

    i think people get a too good of a glimpse for the apparently upcoming starcraft mmo (apparently not project titan, but who knows for sure?) and might not as interested in it when some guy creates it with modding tools in starcraft2.

    i also think that for blizzard or every company in generel all PR is good PR. thats the first phase of the hype. its really good marketing. maybe that modding guy is a blizzard employee. who knows. :)

  33. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Shame. On. Them.

  34. TotalBiscuit says:

    It’s sad that even here, on a well respected and higher-brow (most of the time) PC gaming site, people still don’t read the fucking article before hammering their keyboards in impotent rage.

    • Azradesh says:

      I have long since given up expecting it.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      Blizz zealots are the Order, Blizz haters are the Scoia’tael, I’m Geralt of Rivia having sex with two nurses at once in the middle of the warzone.

  35. 1stGear says:

    It’s probably worth repeating every few comments that Blizzard has done nothing about actually shutting this guy’s work down, just his YouTube videos. But, hey, please continue ranting about Blizzard doesn’t support its modding community and how Bobby Kotick is leading us to a 1984-esque dystopia.

  36. zergrush says:

    Wow.

    Don’t know if I should be amused or scared by the level of tinfoilhatness on this thread.

    • Azradesh says:

      I’ve just given up on people. It apears that stupidity is the norm, even here.

    • Maykael says:

      Oh, chill out! Just a few people fighting on a subject matter they have strong feelings about. Anger makes you less rational. This will blow over soon enough.:)

  37. DrGonzo says:

    Well, from a cynical point of view. The creator knew this would happen, it would get covered by various news sites creating a lot of publicity. He then changes the name and has a lot of free hype for his mod.

  38. Freud says:

    I am creating my own World of Starcraft using twigs and pine cones. Try and stop me if you can, Activision!

  39. 1stGear says:

    I’m reminding of a blog post George R.R. Martin made regarding his stance on fan-fiction: http://grrm.livejournal.com/151914.html The most salient bit is about halfway down the page.

    “Most of us laboring in the genres of science fiction and fantasy (but perhaps not Diana Gabaldon, who comes from outside SF and thus may not be familiar with the case I am about to cite) had a lesson in the dangers of permitting fan fiction a couple of decades back, courtesy of Marion Zimmer Bradley. MZB had been an author who not only allowed fan fiction based on her Darkover series, but actively encouraged it… even read and critiqued the stories of her fans. All was happiness and joy, until one day she encountered in one such fan story an idea similar to one she was using in her current Darkover novel-in-progress. MZB wrote to the fan, explained the situation, even offered a token payment and an acknowledgement in the book. The fan replied that she wanted full co-authorship of said book, and half the money, or she would sue. MZB scrapped the novel instead, rather than risk a lawsuit. She also stopped encouraging and reading fan fiction, and wrote an account of this incident for the SFWA FORUM to warn other writers of the potential pitfalls of same.”

    Intellectual property exists for a reason and creators have a right to defend their creations. All too often, “fans” lose sight of the fact they can and will be huge dicks to the people they adore.

  40. omicron1 says:

    We aren’t saying we’re working on it, but we have a copyright claim on that name.

    Alternate take: Sure, you can use the editor to build whatever you want! … as long as it’s not something WE want to make.

    Incidentally, how exactly is it legal to claim copyright violation on these videos? Activision wouldn’t have much to go by if this was decided by a sane court.

  41. Premium User Badge

    thesundaybest says:

    If you are not seen to be protecting your copyright, you can lose the right to defend it later on. This is how the law works. If that seems ridiculous then blame the law, not the rights holders.

    I’m not saying rights holders are always acting in a just manner. But we’re reached a point where anyone protecting their copyright is seen to be acting in a OH NO HORRIBLE MONSTERS kind of way.

  42. BobsLawnService says:

    What are the chances that this was an automated process that fired off the DMCA notice to Youtube? Have a few spiders scouring YouTube for potential copyright infringement that fire off takedown requests automatically? It would save shedloads of cash and be the intelligent thing to do. It would also not be personal.

    Having said that I fully respect ActiBlizzard’s rights to protect their IP or potential future IP based on current trademarks. This isn’t just about one lone modder with a victim complex, it is about possible future investment and sales worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The indignity of one modder (Albeit a talented one.) and a few outraged freetards really means nothing in the greater scheme of things compared to that.

    • Wulf says:

      Right, because a mod is the greatest threat to future investment ever conceived. I just… hate that argument, it has to be fallacious on some level, it simply must be. How can a mod harm an IP in any conceivable way? Where is the undeniable, ratified, rock solid proof that a mod would result in a lessened IP and despondent investors? How would a mod that’s not marketed harm brand recognition? If a mod author isn’t seeking financial income from a trademark, then do they need to enforce it? Where do we stop? How is this that much different than what Tim Langdell was doing, isn’t that just one step further in that direction? Isn’t it worth overlooking mods until they try to make money off of their efforts? Does the law necessitate that everything that sounds similar to an existing trademark (such as World of Starcraft) be crushed in order to protect existing trademarks? Doesn’t that mean that Tim Langdell was in the right?

      It’s fine to go around insulting people with terms like ‘freetard’ (thanks for that), but you’re not making a lot of sense. No one that supports decisions like these ever does. You speak the words, but you don’t seem to understand the words. You and others say that it’s for investors, for brand recognition, trademark protection, and for similar things, and that’s fine. But why? Where does this information come from? If you’re just repeating something you heard elsewhere without any hands-on experience then you’re just spreading misinformation. And perhaps that’s what the problem is – and that if Blizzard took a hands off approach they’d find that no one would be harmed anyway, not their brands, not investors, or anything of the sort.

      What I find scary is that people repeat information without actually challenging the information they’re fed with. I don’t have all the information, no. But if you’re expecting me to accept knowledge, then you’re going to have to explain to me why it’s acceptable. And no amount of buzz-words or hand-wavey explanations is going to do that. I want a logical, clear explanation as to why it was absolutely necessary for Blizzard to issue a cease & desist at a mod like this one.

      I don’t think it’s wrong to want to question information. One would imagine that’s the difference between a human and a robot or a computer. A robot is programmed. A human slowly absorbs information but knows how to ask questions, so that they can verify the validity of the information they’re being fed. A computer can’t do that. I worry sometimes that some humans are too much like computers, and that they don’t bother to actually ensure that the information they’re fed, and the information that they’re repeating is wholly, entirely valid. Sometimes I worry that Garbage In Garbage Out applies to some humans as much as it does to machines.

    • Voidy says:

      This might just be the most likely scenario. Takedown notices are easy to compose and send and many companies use bots for this purpose.

    • Archonsod says:

      “How can a mod harm an IP in any conceivable way?”

      Why does it have to? Actard own the IP, if they decide they don’t want you to use it because you have a silly haircut it’s their right to do that.

      Generally any smart modder should already be accepting the risk that the IP owners can shut them down at any point. If they’re unhappy about that, they shouldn’t be modding in the first place. Whatever happened to the time when you just stuck the C&D demand up for everyone to laugh at and moved on without whining?

    • BobsLawnService says:

      Ok, Wulf, why should asking the mod author to change the name negatively affect him or the mod? If what are you saying is true and there is no value in the name “World of Starcraft” why doesn’t he just quietly change it to something else? Surely it won’t have any effect on him because it is worth nothing to anyone. Why not call it “My Experimental Starcraft MMO”?

      The fact is that if they ever want to trademark the title “World of Starcraft” having a mod with the same name released unopposed does open them up to future legal issues. What this joker is doing is the equivalent of Cybersquatting.

    • afarrell says:

      Again, it’s worth pointing out that it’s the Youtube rather than the mod that’s been targetted. And the Youtube provides a fairly clear potential danger:

      1. Years from now (or tomorrow), news leaks out that Blizzard is preparing World of Starcraft (before Blizzard have actually prepared any footage, as happened with Cataclysm)
      2. People search for “World of Starcraft”, find a lot of news stories – and a video!
      3. People watch the video, it looks like crap, they start bad mouthing WoS. Remember these don’t have to be people who keep up to date with World of Starcraft mods, or who even know what mods are – they looked up something they heard Blizzard was involved with, they saw something substandard, Blizzard’s rep has been damaged.

  43. Voidy says:

    World of Starcraft: half-assed attempt at trolling or inability to come up with an original title for a (supposedly) original mod? YOU DECIDE.

    Seriously. Ryan is an idiot, and TotalBiscuit quite thoroughly explains why. Wulf’s rabid attacks on Blizzard are an endless source of entertainment. Both commenters are must read.

    That’s all.

    • Wulf says:

      Yes, because the cool kids like to call anything that’s presented in a passionate way ‘rabid’ these days.

      Likewise – I could easily say how distasteful I find it when entirely faceless, spineless people chant about IP law in a rather terrifying way without ever finding that questionable. I hadn’t done that because I’m not petty. Shame I can’t say the same for my detractors.

      I love how the people on the opposite end of this argument will continuously resort to insults and smear attacks. That isn’t funny, really… just a little sad.

    • Azradesh says:

      Yes and anyone that disagrees with you has been “socially engineered” and/or “hacked”, right Wulf?

    • Voidy says:

      Hello, this is Activision Blizzard speaking. We would like to point out that we are not some greedy soulless corporate entity that revels in smothering creativity and hunting down our most dedicated modders. We’re just passionate about our IP.

  44. the_fanciest_of_pants says:

    Some very specious and un-researched opinions in here.

    For one, ActiBliz has absolutely no need to “Protect” its IP in this case; this is a mod, available SOLELY through their own systems, on their own platform. The claim that they have some legal obligation or risk involved here is absolute, utter bullshit.

    This poor chump doesn’t have a hope in hell of making money from anyone playing it, and he doesn’t stand a chance of copyrighting “World of starcraft” either. If I went into a Mcdonalds (for whatever reason), bought a pack of Chicken McNuggets and put some stickers on the box, could I then go and trademark my “Stickered Chicken Mcgnuggets”?

    This is bullying, and as far as Blizzards (post-warcraft 3) mod community goes, it’s nothing new.

    A lot of people are bringing up Valve in comparison, and that’s a valid point, even ignoring the recent DOTA2 shenanigans.

    You see, when a modder makes some great new functionality for WoW, often times blizzard will take notice and go “hey, that’s a great idea! Let’s build that into our game officially!”. They then proceed to make an in-house version that becomes standard to all WoW players. I am unaware of any instance (And I’ve tried to find one) of an Addon creator being credited, payed or hired as a result of their work.

    Valve is of course the complete opposite; the vast majority of their production staff are ex-modders themselves; The core, original team was composed of the creators of the original Team Fortress of course the Narbarcular Drop kids got picked up to make Portal and even recently the IGF student project winners and creators of Tag: The power of paint have been picked up (we’ve seen their mechanics in action in Portal 2 videos).

    You see when Valve spots a good idea, it looks to the people who created it, it doesn’t just cannibalize the idea and move on. They have this funny notion that someone who developed an interesting, novel or elegant solution or experience may have more to offer then simply the idea itself, which is easily stolen.

    And as a result, Valve’s games boast an enormous and vibrant modding community. To see what SC2 and WoW modders accomplish even with the scowling disapproval and shameless re-appropriation inflicted on them by Blizzard, I can’t help but groan for the potential for greatness that is being quashed.

    • Daniel Carvalho says:

      Finally, someone who sees it my way. Blizzard have got trademarks in place, and it is clearly a mod, building on Blizzard technology. There is no IP in threat here. It’s all about concepts, ideas, gameplay mechanics etc…

    • Wulf says:

      Thank you.

    • Heynes says:

      Frankly, it kind of surprises me how people like to bring Valve as their justification when clearly Valve is the far (and perhaps even only) outlier from industry practice- to suggest that all other developers to follow suit is being extremely naive and idealistic. And as stated below, even stated by MadTinkerer below, even they had to use legal efforts when a clear trademark was being violated.

    • 1stGear says:

      It’s probably worth repeating every few comments that Blizzard has done nothing about actually shutting this guy’s work down, just his YouTube videos. But, hey, please continue ranting about Blizzard doesn’t support its modding community and how Bobby Kotick is leading us to a 1984-esque dystopia.

    • Starky says:

      “Some very specious and un-researched opinions in here.”

      For someone with that opening statement you seem to be just as ignorant to the difference between copyright and trademark as many others posting utter crap.
      Blizzard doesn’t need to protect it’s IP, no, but it DOES have to protect its trademark – Starcraft, and probably “World of Starcraft” because if they don’t own that trademark already I’d be shocked – law REQUIRES Blizzard to protect it, or lose it.

      Blizzard do indeed take addon idea’s and make them official, redo them in the main UI- they’re not stealing though, they are redoing an idea using original code – which is and has been perfectly acceptable in software and game design since the start of it all. The vast majority of it is open source and copyright free anyway, which means right from the start the addon coders (especially on wowace) were giving ANYONE from any company or game to take their work and use it how they like.
      Also, Blizzards implementations are usually simple and generic, easy for the average user, and still allow a “market” for the dedicated addon with more features/customization.
      One of the best and earliest examples is probably scrolling combat text – it was added officially, yet the addon offered more options and customization and so was still used by almost everyone who know how to install and use an addon – yet the millions of people who never install or bother with addons for WoW suddenly got a cool option for displacing combat damage and feedback.

      Blizzard didn’t steal his code or idea (the idea existed long before the mod) but they clearly saw how popular the mod was, and decided that it should be part of the default functionality and this is a GOOD thing.

      I say this as someone who was fairly involved in the wowace community and who’s code contributed to several of the biggest mods that made it into the official game – again, mods that were open source, built in a open source language, for a API owned by blizzard. To which anything released to the public was on the understanding (and requirement) that you gave Blizzard all rights to use as they see if.
      Simply put, it was their field, and if you wanted to play ball on it you followed their rules.

      Blizzard didn’t steal mods, they rebuild UI addons, and that is a vast difference. Mods contain original work, stories, art, and assets – UI addons just modify existing Blizzard owned assets.
      You can also note that they never once stole any code or assets from any addon that got made official.

      Oh and by the way, there WAS official acknowledgement – there was a thread on the WoW Ui/Macro forums ages ago that congratulated the authors of the mods who got made official, which had blue posts in it too.
      I specifically remember Vaneras (i think that was his name) thanking us all for our hard work, and praising our continued efforts.

      The only people I can recall who were vocal and angry over what Blizzard did were a few complete douchebags who even the community hated – because they were the type who stole idea’s melded them into a couple of successful addons, and then tried to claim all ownership and started forum wars with anyone who did the same thing.
      Basically they tried to stop wowace conversions of their unoriginal addon collections, because they were the most popular and thus “owned” those idea.
      Anyone who was around wowace at the time probably remembers who I’m talking about.

      All game developers do it, and Valve don’t hire everyone who they borrow an idea off, Bethesda don’t hire all the addon makers from oblivious who’s idea’s they used to make fallout 3 better. You’re deluding yourself if you think that is any way at all true. Valve might hire teams for whole projects, but they – like every single other creative endeavour ever, lift idea’s wholesale from any number of sources – and they liberally borrow things like UI design, gameplay ideas and such other interface issue from any number of games and sources.

  45. Jacques says:

    Surprised the chap’s website is still up, considering this bit in Blizzard’s legal FAQ.
    http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/legal-faq.html

    Can I register a domain names containing some portion of your product names such as “star-craft.com” or “war-craft.com?”
    No. We are concerned that such use could cause confusion for our customers who may assume that the domain is associated with Blizzard Entertainment®.

  46. GrinningD says:

    Just wanted to add – against all the Blizbashing and ‘how can they be so evils’ at the bleakness of the messages he received:

    It is not necessarily Blizzard who have set their lawyers on him, it is far more likely that the lawyers sent the slap and then told Blizzard they had done so and why.

    As TotalBiscuit points out far above, ‘this is just a slap on the wrist’ legally equatable with a traffic officer pulling you over to tell you that you have a broken tail light – you haven’t done anything strictly wrong but you do need to fix it.

    Of course if it’s the Activision part of the combine then I am sure that there is a flesh eating virus encoded into that email which will scour a 5 mile area around his house of anything living.

    It’s the only way to be sure.

    • Wulf says:

      Even if that’s true, they’re doing it wrong and it doesn’t mean it’s excusable.

      See: Valve.

      Not all legal teams have to be such overbearing dicks. To the contrary, if someone is helping to actually bolster your game (as mods for a game do), then perhaps it’s a good idea to lay the hell off. Valve understand this.

      Even if it is an automated message, this is still Blizzard’s legal team doing it wrong.

      Edit #1: Just to drive the point home – there are some New Vegas mods that have New Vegas in the name and solicit donations to continue work.

      Has Bethesda or Obsidian even thought of shutting them down? No. Bethesda might bore me sometimes with their games, but I’ve never thought of them as being responsible for the same sorts of entirely douche-ish acts that Blizzard are.

      And if Blizzard’s legal team are entirely responsible for this, autonomously, then perhaps it’s time for Blizzard to step in and tell them to calm down a bit.

    • Jacques says:

      Wulf, “New Vegas” isn’t trademarked, Starcraft is.

    • Wulf says:

      Fine. Fallout 3 then. The same thing happened for Fallout 3.

      Edit #1: Oblivion, too. At that. And likely Skyrim if it’s moddable.

    • Jacques says:

      Fallout 3 what? What was the exact mod title?

      Damnit, you’re not getting it! You’re free to make a mod for a game, just don’t be dumb enough to include a trademark within the mods name that implies ownership of the trademark.

      Simples.

    • Jeremy says:

      You know, I bet Bethesda would block any mod called “Fallout 5″ or “Elder Scrolls 6″ because those would be titles that could potentially be used in the future. Do you really think that Valve wouldn’t send their lawyers on a mod developer creating Half-Life 3 or Left4Dead 3? They’re protecting their future development projects. Just because the game isn’t out yet, doesn’t mean it won’t be. Blizzard is keeping their options open, and preserving the quality of their IPs.

  47. Wulf says:

    This is all bullshit, isn’t it? At the end of the day, it’s just bullshit.

    I find that the_fanciest_of_pants has it covered, and I completely agree with him. I agree with him because there are Fallout 3 mods which have ‘Fallout 3′ in the title, some of which even solicit donations. Zenimax has shareholders, and they own Bethesda. Has Zenimax or Bethesda tried to shut down any of these mods? No.

    In the older days of Bioware, there were similar things happening for Neverwinter Nights. And what happened? Some of the mods were included officially, and they were actually fully credited for in the patch notes. Mods happen. Only Blizzard doesn’t seem to realiise the worth of mods – other than something to harvest without ever crediting the people they harvested code and ideas from.

    Don’t expect rewards if you mod for Blizzard, expect C&D notices.

    Even if this is Blizzard’s legal department doing things wrong, it’s no excuse. This is not excusable on those grounds. It would be if there were lots of precedents for slapping down C&Ds on mods for games, where the mod utilises the IP of the game it’s modding, but there aren’t really, are there? This happens in every Gamebryo game. It wouldn’t be cool if Zenimax/Bethesda suddenly started doing this, would it? Because we trust them.

    Yet we can’t trust Blizzard, instead we have to think up excuses as to why this is okay. We have to be cheap apologists. What does this say about us and Blizzard?

    *Wulf puts on his flameproof suit, and goes to sit in the fallout shelter.*

    Edit #1: Quick addendum!

    If Blizzard’s approach is correct (and we should know it isn’t), then shouldn’t this have received a C&D order?

    • Archonsod says:

      Mods aren’t actually worth that much. I know the old argument that they somehow add value and attract sales, but until I see figures to substantiate that I’m going to discount it as a meaningful argument. In fact, the figures I have seen suggest it’s usually a small percentage of the user base that actually download mods (although these didn’t include games where modding was supported via the client in the same manner as SC II or Civ V).

      Furthermore, mods add a risk for the developer. See Hot Coffee for an example. There’s the IP risks too, not only from violation of your own IP but also third party. If you make a LotR mod and someone attached to Tolkien’s estate thinks you’re exploiting it to make money, whether by advertising, increased sales or whatever, then someone is going to end up in court, and it’s highly unlikely to be a modding group when there’s a multinational corporation they can sue instead.

      And there’s plenty of Mods which have been slapped down at some point, particularly when the larger companies get involved. And in this case they simply removed YouTube videos, it might be due to IP infringement; it could simply be they were worried about people typing in “World of Starcraft” on YouTube, seeing those videos and jumping to the wrong conclusion. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter, if you don’t want to risk being shut down make your own original work rather than use someone else’s.

    • Soon says:

      I don’t think it’s just having Starcraft in the mod title as there are probably lots, but the whole “World of Starcraft”. Since it sounds similar to their other game and could easily match the name of a game they were planning on releasing. It’d be similar to calling your Fallout 3 mod “Fallout 4″.

    • Jeremy says:

      Yeah, when something is clearly mimicking a couple of different IPs, it’s time to put a stop to that. They blocked some YouTube videos, not that big of a deal. The creator of the mod has 2 options at this point, put up a stink and get shut down, or just change the name to something else.

      They’re not stifling mod development, they’re stopping one individual from using a title that they could potentially use in the future. If you can’t see that (which you can’t, and neither can the mod creator), and have to turn Blizzard into some diabolical social engineering firm that stifles the joy of creative expression, well, then there’s not much else to say.

    • opel says:

      Hot Coffee wasn’t necessarily a mod. It required a mod to unlock it, but it was in the game files, hence the issue.

      People have modded naked girls with erect dicks into Oblivion, but Bethesda hasn’t suffered from it. Though I think they ended up having the same problem as Hot Coffee by having nipples in the game files.

  48. terry says:

    Bad! Bad Actiblizzard!

  49. bwion says:

    Whatever one thinks of Blizzard (I’m largely indifferent toward them) or of copyright law (I think it’s a good idea with an often-bad execution), can anyone really be surprised that this happened? ‘Fan who creates derivative work gets cease-and-desist-letter from creator/owner of the work he’s a fan of’ is one of the oldest stories on the internet.

    Either the modder is a complete idiot or he was deliberately trying to provoke this reaction from Blizzard. My money’s on the latter.

  50. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    This might just be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand does.

    Because this doesn’t make any sense, as has been pointed out multiple times here.