Dues And DOTAs: Valve And Blizzard Reach Agreement

By Nathan Grayson on May 11th, 2012 at 11:00 pm.

Welp, this image is useless now.

Well, that was close. When last we checked in on Blizzard and Valve’s legal frontlines, the two were arming up for all-out war over the DOTA name. Blizzard was adamant that it owned the “Ancients” part of “Defense of the Ancients,” and therefore, Valve had no right to trademark “DOTA” for use in DOTA 2. Happily, however, neither side will be drafting up a legal defense (of the Ancients), as the PC gaming empires have called off their cold war. Hands have been shaken and babies kissed. So then, let’s have a look at the terms.

In a statement received by RPS, the two ultra-developers explained that Valve will keep using “DOTA” in a commercial capacity while Blizzard has full right to apply it in relation to community maps and other non-commercial things of the like. But what of Blizzard DOTA, which seems to have evolved a coin slot somewhere down the line? Blizzard’s Rob Pardo explained:

“Both Blizzard and Valve recognize that, at the end of the day, players just want to be able to play the games they’re looking forward to, so we’re happy to come to an agreement that helps both of us stay focused on that. As part of this agreement, we’re going to be changing the name of Blizzard DOTA to Blizzard All-Stars, which ultimately better reflects the design of our game. We look forward to going into more detail on that at a later date.”

Which is kind of a far cry from Blizzard’s previous stance, but Blizzard and Valve have stated – on no uncertain terms – that they “do not plan to discuss the terms of the agreement beyond today’s announcement.” So what happened in the hotly contested rap battle between Chris Metzen and Erik Wolpaw stays in the hotly contested rap battle between Chris Metzen and Erik Wolpaw.

Really, though, for folks who just want to play games, this outcome couldn’t be much better. Everyone seems happy, nothing’s on hold, the community’s not at risk – it’s good news all around. And seeing as there was no real practical need for this scuffle anyway (a little thing called League of Legends has managed marginal success without dropping the “DOTA” bomb), I’m glad that PC gaming’s two most titanic anchors have ceased their clash. Time for merriment.

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97 Comments »

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  1. MonolithicTentacledAbomination says:

    Rumor is they settled this dispute by a best of three in Demigod.

    • Eclipse says:

      Valve asked for Ricochet or Deathmatch Classic, but Blizzard wanted a fair ground

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        Thermal Ions says:

        So what, they battled it out on a merry-go-round, or at a duck-shoot?

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      El_MUERkO says:

      I loved Demigod :(

      • Lord Byte says:

        It WAS good, sadly let down by a bad start, bad support, and not fulfilling their promise of extra content. (They eventually released an extra hero, but it was long after the game had sunk far below the waves. Too little, too late).

      • Bensam123 says:

        Yeah, I did too. It’s sad that DOTA style games don’t take the gameplay and develop it a bit. They almost ALL use the same exact cloned map from the original dota with slightly ultered items on it. No one has tried adding more to gameplay like base upgrades that demigod has or unit upgrade. They all concentrate solely on the heroes and it has made the gameplay quite sterile IMO. The bases really don’t even matter. You could just do what HoN is doing and have a middle mode, have everyone go and duke it out.

        I’m guessing it has more to do with being afraid to change the game play and the rabid reaction of their respective communities then anything though. I really don’t care that much for standard DotA gameplay without base assets that you can change.

        • LazyLemming says:

          While it took them a while, LoL has released Dominion which was a fairly refreshing (If imbalanced as hell) change. There’s also been some talk of another new game mode being worked on.

    • pakoito says:

      Best of “first one able to host 3 games in a row without NAT problems”?

      • miywg says:

        I’m 99% sure that ‘All-Stars’ is not the first use of the name in relation to a tower defence mod.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JSV1ei6OjY

        • JackShandy says:

          Oh my god, that one got me.

          • Spengbab says:

            Holy christ, they’ve found our weakness – youtube links, which we automatically click on without checking the statusbar

            Run, RPS is no longer safe

          • Valvarexart says:

            Damn you, spambot, damn you!

          • mentor07825 says:

            Hahahahaha!!! Oh my god, that’s genius! Spam bots are becoming more intelligent :P

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            Sarigs says:

            Crap sticks got me too.,,,but he seemed so non-spambotish :-/

          • MondSemmel says:

            It got me, too! And it even took me a few moments to process the fact that the opened site wasn’t YouTube…

          • sybrid says:

            Well, now that they’ve invented fake youtube links I’m afraid to click anything ever again on the interwebs. We might as well just burn the whole thing down and start over.

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          lowprices says:

          Agh… they got me. In spite of all the warnings, I went there, and uncovered something evil. Now I’m too weak to move, and the spambots are on the move. Avenge my death commenters. Avenge… my… dea…

          • JackShandy says:

            Damn it, Lowprices, don’t give out on me!

            Wait.

            That’s… a very spam-bot style of name…

          • El_Emmental says:

            He’s one of them, leg your way out gentlemen !

            … beware RPS readers, soon the spambots will take over the puns, and all will be lost, forever.

    • RF says:

      Posting this in the top comment for visibility.

      This lawsuit was NOT about Blizzard getting the name DotA. It was about Valve getting it. Blizzard was trying to secure the right of the community to use the name without fear of lawsuits, since DotA should be classed as a public property, as it is a trademark of the community, not of any particular company.

      The fact that Valve KINDA sorta won this is worrisome.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        NO. NO. NO.

        It’s fine if you don’t like Valve or think they dipped their hand into the wrong cookie jar. That’s fine. But to MAKE SHIT UP, which is EXACTLY what you’re doing, is inexcusable.

        Valve requested a TM’d of “DOTA” for their game,. DOTA2. They requested for “DOTA” and only “DOTA”.

        Blizzard got butthurt that they never bothered to TM it before and probably also worried that Valve TMing it could cause issues with their upcoming DOTA SC2 expansion. So Blizzard then went around and started strong-arming the DOTA community, by taking over DOTA -Allstars and issuing C&D’s so they could show (years later) that they were enforcing what, they said, should be their TM to begin with, even though they actually had no TM to enforce.

        Blizzard sued to not only stop from having the DOTA TM being given to Valve, but also requested that they, Blizzard, be given exclusive TM rights to “DOTA”, “DotA”, “Dota”, and “Defense of the Ancients”.

        You can parse who is the bad guy all you want, (pro tip: neither of them is the bad guy, they’re both looking out for the interest of their company and their games) but don’t spread blatant lies to try and prove your point.

        • RF says:

          Your point is? Mine still stands. The fact EITHER of them won it is worrisome.

          EDIT: Also, you might like to look into the case a bit more. You’re completely wrong.

      • Savagetech says:

        DotA isn’t a trademark of the community. The name “DotA” was created by the original map designer, Eul. People created imbalanced bootlegs of the game, but Eul’s was the only version that meant anything in terms of progressing the development of the game. These hangers-on were flashes in the pan, since any novelty they offered was surpassed by what Eul brought to the table when he released a new version. From someone who was playing the game back then, I can tell you that Eul’s version was the definitive version of “DotA” until he stopped developing it, after WC3: Frozen Throne came out.

        Eul didn’t hand the map down to anyone so there was a public race to use the new tools of Frozen Throne to become the unofficial successor to DotA. A designer named Guinsoo created a version called “DotA: Allstars” that slowly beat back the competition to become the definitive DotA of the time. I don’t recall exactly when, but the map became write-protected during Guinsoo’s development. This cut down on the half-rate clones that ran rampant in Eul’s day when nobody knew how to encrypt maps. Guinsoo eventually passed the map directly to Icefrog, who developed it until leaving to work for Valve and develop DotA2.

        You’re right that DotA isn’t the trademark of a company, but COMPLETELY wrong that it’s the trademark of a community. The only people who could conceivably lay claim to the name DotA from any moral standpoint are Eul, Guinsoo, and Icefrog; the three guys who worked their asses off over countless versions of the map to popularize, innovate, and perfect the game.

        Even though DotA wasn’t the trademark of a company, Valve still has a perfectly reasonable claim to the name. Why? Because Eul and Icefrog both work for Valve. But what of poor Guinsoo? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care, considering he’s been working on a little game called “League of Legends” for 3+ years now.

        If your favorite musician releases an album and invites the fans to remix the songs, the names and original songs are still the property of that musician. If they sign to a record label and decide to give the rights to those songs to the label, it means fuck all that the community remixed them. Same situation here. Community trademark my ass.

        • El_Emmental says:

          I just wish we had an encyclopedia containing that kind of history.

          (and sorry but Wikipedia is the last place who’s going to host such information, they really can’t do something by themselves)

        • dmoe says:

          Best post in this article. A lot of “what if’s” being thrown around and this clears it up perfectly.

  2. Demiath says:

    As someone who really wants both of these curiously well-liked corporate entities to reveal their true, dark nature I find this settlement to be a disappointment.

    • Funso Banjo says:

      “curiously well-liked corporate entities”?

      Blizzard-Activision is the one corporation many of us would say that has managed to challenge EA for the most hated developer/publisher trophy. Right now, Activision-Blizzard is handily in the lead, though EA is always in hot pursuit.

      • darkath says:

        Funnily enough, while EA is the most hated game-company of all times, John Ricitiello don’t get much personal criticism. On other hand, Activision-Blizzard do OK reputation-wise, but Bobby Kotick is often portrayed as the most evil man in the game industry.

        :p

      • Kryopsis says:

        Blizzard is an independent part of Activision-Blizzard and is a separate entity from Activision.

        • somini says:

          I believe it’s the same situation as Bioware in regards to EA. Not sure though.

          • Phantoon says:

            Right, and like Bioware, Blizzard is owned by its parent company. Blizzard was bought out by Vivendi before Vivendi merged with Activision.

          • jioqjsd says:

            If you still need a variety of equipment for the games you like trouble! You need it! Universal VBOX HD-360 Video Converter Box! Designed to work with any gaming console or video device. http://c7r.de/D473

        • alundra says:

          Don’t live in denial, it’s not healthy.

          • Kryopsis says:

            Don’t live in ignorance, you’re making a fool of yourself.

            Before Activision-Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment developed and published its games but the distribution was done through Vivendi Universal Games. Under Activision-Blizzard, the company still develops and publishes its games, however the distribution is handled by Activision-Blizzard, a subsidiary of Vivendi. The two parts of the company are independent of each-other. Open blizzard.com, scroll down and compare the lines against those on callofduty.com.

          • AgamemnonV2 says:

            @Kryopsis

            No no, stop being logical. What would the gaming world be like if people were still ignorant and ill-informed about a four-year-old issue? Although I truly doubt they’re completely ignorant–more likely one of those “company vs” loons who would love nothing more than a reason to hate Blizzard because the word “Activision” is included in the same name as the publishing company. I mean even good ol’ Wikipedia lists that Blizzard Entertainment is still its own independent studio, so even the stupids who use WIkipedia for all of their arguments would have learned this by now.

          • RF says:

            Kryposis, that was true up to a certain point, but now Activision sits over Blizzard and has managers “managing them”. They also traded a lot of employees with Blizzard (hence the 600 layoffs, which were mostly staff members that were doing duplicate work) etc etc.

            My source is a bunch of news articles from last year that are really hard to find and I should’ve probably saved them.

        • Torticoli says:

          If you ever played World of Warcraft, before and after the merger, you’ll know that Blizzard is not, in fact, independent anymore and that their game design decisions are directly influenced by Activision’s policies. Which, as we know, mainly consist in “screw gamers, make money”.

          That’s not to say that they’re not legally and technically “independent”, they could be, I don’t know, but as far as game design and marketing decisions go, they’re following Activision’s guidelines.

          • Torticoli says:

            That’s not to say that they’re not legally and technically “independent”, they could be, I don’t know, but as far as game design and marketing decisions go, they’re following Activision’s guidelines.

    • Casimir Effect says:

      I’m pretty sure they each picked 10 interns and held a Battle Royale scenario on an island somewhere. Seems Valve one else we’d be seeing DOTA2 renamed to the Ravenholm Globetrotters or something

    • Mordsung says:

      Corporations are not dark and evil, they are amoral organizations built in the pursuit of profits.

      Not immoral, amoral. Morality, good or bad, does not factor into their decisions, only profit.

      The only difference between a well liked company and a hated company is that the two disagree on the profitability of brand loyalty.

      • mouton says:

        While I do agree with you, it is not entirely precise. While corporations themselves are amoral, they are not blind to how things are perceived by the public and can choose different courses of action. If they choose to “do evil”, they cannot be surprised there is a backlash and hatred. So yes, morality does factor into their decisions, as long as their public perception has any influence on them. Oh, and Valve is a privately-owned anarcho-syndicalist commune, so they aren’t exactly typical.

      • Vorphalack says:

        What kind of shoddy definition of immoral does not include greed?

        • Deano2099 says:

          You can make tons of money without hurting other people. In fact you can make tons of money while providing fair wages, job security and decent working conditions to your employees. You tend to find that, if you do that, you get the better employees, thus ultimately making you more money too.

          • Vorphalack says:

            I am aware of that, but anyone who believes that all corporations are run ethically is a self deluding maniac.

      • Premium User Badge

        Malibu Stacey says:

        Corporations are not dark and evil, they are amoral organizations built in the pursuit of profits.

        Sweeping generalisation is sweeping and generalising. You could sort of apply that to any publicly listed company beholden to a share price and thus shareholders expecting dividends but private companies are often nothing like what you describe.

      • MSJ says:

        You mean corporations are like the fae? This explains Shadowrun, maybe.

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        Lamb Chop says:

        When it comes to being a part of our economic system and therefore society, amoral is immoral. A rock is amoral. An amoral corporation is immoral.

        “There’s a baby drowning in the water next to you, sir.” “Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t make judgments on that kind of thing.”

      • AgamemnonV2 says:

        Nice try, Gordon Gecko.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        “Morality, good or bad, does not factor into their decisions, only profit.”

        I seriously hope you never run a company.

        So, I can work my employees to the bone with long shifts, no holidays, no vacation time, and barely pay them above minimum wage. Behold! I have maximized short term profits!

        Then all my employees begin to leave and I have to start training tons of new, inexperienced employees, quality begins to slide, and customer satisfaction dips and I lose profits in the long run. Oh noes!

        Pro Tip: Treating employes well and caring about their well being can help lead to a successful and highly motivated workforce that will actually want to help you succeed, rather than just barely care enough to collect a paycheck.

        Here’s some advice from a pro:

        “At the end of the day, it is about the people who work for you,” Michael T. Dan said in a talk Thursday at the University of Richmond. “They deliver the services to your customers. It’s their morale that counts. The shareholder value will follow. It always does, and it always has in my business career.”
        […]
        In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with Senior Associate Dean Richard Coughlan, Dan told students, faculty and other guests about his leadership role in the lengthy and sometimes controversial process that transformed Brink’s from a $100 million subsidiary of The Pittston Co., a conglomerate that had interests in mining and freight, into a standalone global business focused on security with more than $3 billion in revenue in 2010.

        http://www2.timesdispatch.com/business/business/2011/nov/18/tdbiz01-outgoing-brinks-ceo-speaks-on-transformati-ar-1467394/

        • lijenstina says:

          Yeah, I agree. Time frame is essential. Maximizing short term profit could ruin the company in the long run similar to a democracy where elected officials and political parties tend to adopt policies to have some “results” for the next election cycle not for the next 20 or 30 years down the line (like underfunding public education to balance the budget etc.)

          That’s why, for instance, people dismiss speculative capital which does tend to maximize short term investment gains and quickly go elsewhere without barring the consequences for the possible bad decisions that the company will face in the mid and long term.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        In practice, the difference between “amoral” and “evil” is slim to nonexistent.

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      Malibu Stacey says:

      There’s always one in every thread. RPS commenter are not disappoint.

  3. Jim9137 says:

    This land is my land, this land is not your land…

  4. SiHy_ says:

    Does anyone else think Blizzard All-Stars sounds like a basketball team?

  5. kikito says:

    … And thus the resources not invested on lawyers can be used in other more productive units, like programmers.

    Lawyers are for 6-poolers.

  6. marcusfell says:

    So entertainment hard-counters pride?

    • eks says:

      It does seem strange. It can’t be the money, both these companies have lots of cash to throw around, especially at something which has the potential to ultimately gain them IP. Perhaps it’s about the PR? They know the communities surrounding these game would be “watching”, but then, when the hell has any major publisher ever cared about PR when their IP is on the line….

      • PodX140 says:

        Aye, I could see Valve MAYBE taking PR over IP, but blizzard? Blizzard the old, yes, but actiblizzard? Ehh…

      • El_Spartin says:

        It’s better PR for both companies to have an agreement like this, no one likes court cases and the results are more often than not, detrimental when it comes to trademarks and gaming.

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        jrodman says:

        Well; when you have relatively amicable parties willing to broker a deal, a fair amount to gain from a clear delineation, and a very murky IP scenario where there’s no likely victor you can bank on, that encourages everyone to just make a deal. Where this tends to fail is when the parties can’t find a good compromise or at least agreement. So really this result is probably more a product of there being a relatively easy sane split “both parties can use the term in different capacities”.

  7. DickSocrates says:

    Valve paid Blizzard. Money makes people suddenly feel nice towards each other.

    • Pasco says:

      Why would Valve need to pay? Blizzard realised they hadn’t got a leg to stand on and sheepishly agreed to Valve’s terms. This announcement just lets them save face.

      • The Dark One says:

        That’s basically it. The only time someone outside of Valve is going to use DOTA is in a non-commercial setting, basically like all the Team Fortress clones have functioned. They’re putting on a conciliatory face and shaking hands with Blizzard, even if Valve won every substantive bit of the argument.

  8. HaVoK308 says:

    They said: Look, we are both about to make a shit-ton of money so lets just sit back and watch our sheep graze as we count it. Can’t we be pals? Us rich folk gotta stick together.

  9. Kryopsis says:

    I am just as surprised as everyone else that the affair was settled so calmly. I half-expected Blizzard to emulate Zenimax. Nonetheless, it was sad to see two giants fight over a community-made production, not to mention both parties will be competing with Riot Games and their established user-base.

  10. Premium User Badge

    princec says:

    Fanny Schmellar.

  11. Grovy says:

    Can someone explain what the draw of these games is for competitive players please? I don’t get why people who traditionally valued the largely unchanging environment in games like counter strike, starcraft, quake etc and shunned levelup mechanics and over-diversification are now all about these games where they’re adding new characters weekly(?)

    Obviously there’s something to it I’m not seeing because hon and lol have drawn many players away from other games they were at the top of, but I just don’t get it :( maybe I’m getting old and all the kids are rolling their eyes right now

    • Hatsworth says:

      In the WC3 community of old, DotA was not respected as a competitive game. It was seen as a fun game, but not a serious one. Then again, I guess that’s how SC looked at WC3.

      Honestly, it’s just that they’re immensely popular, like CS was back in the day. Also Riot Games and Valve are throwing out huge cash purses. Even WoW had a competitive scene for a while. I don’t think any of these lords management games have persistent levels though?

    • pakoito says:

      Dota releases a couple heroes a couple of months, but there’s usually a stable map until said heroes are balanced and ironed out. HoN was doing the same until 2.0 screwed up everything. LoL was never designed to be competitive and not enough money will make them legit.

      Anyway the point is that the game is a fair match all the way around. Both teams have the same toolset available from the beginning to pick from their best strategy. I am not big on CS but I guess team composition (Rifle guy! Sniper guy! Two shotgun guys!) is important. Well, here it is even more. And that’s just pre-game. 110 tool choices, 5 bans and 5 picks, to create the strat you think it fits better for your players against theirs.

      In-game we have three phases. Early game is about NOT DYING, and you see players gathered in 1-2 trying just to squeeze the most gold out of the creeps, it’s all technical here getting every deny and lasthit while staying out of range from enemies’ spells. An early pickup can make a hero snowball better into midgame.

      Mid game is where all the meat is served. It’s a mix between individual player skill and team strategy: are we rolling an aggressive team? a passive one waiting for lategame? a fast one? crowd control and teamfights?. This is where the big plays start to shine, like 2in1 enemy pickups, near death scapes, skill combo, deception skills using map or even keepaway skills to AFKfarm.

      Lategame depends completely on midgame. We arrive to three possible scenarios. One where one team is superior from midgame and just steamrolls the other team. The same scenario but the team fucks up completely and the “worst” team sweeps because they drafted a better lategame hero. And one where it’s pretty much stalemate and someone makes one small supersupersupersupersupertiny mistake (being caught alone, starting teamfight early, completely missing a Kongor/Roshan kill) and the game is over.

      And all of this has the advantage that can be caught on camera better than a CS match, where the focus has to change from one player to the next because the aerial view doesn’t allow to show personal skills. In here, minimap shows where everyone is, what map vision each team has; and a skilled camera will catch most of the action showing the whole teamfight and even players’ highlights.

  12. Was Neurotic says:

    I’m 99% sure that ‘All-Stars’ is not the first use of the name in relation to a tower defence mod. Wasn’t it also an old-skool WC3 mod name too? I forget.

    • pakoito says:

      Warcraft 3 mod “Dota” changed his name to “Dota All-Stars” since Icefrog took the wheel up until today.

  13. alundra says:

    “the community’s not at risk”

    wtf?? what community was a risk?? Borderline sensationalism.

    The outcome clearly works in Valve favor, whatever agreement they reached, it must have been obvious for BlizzVision that it was a lost battle.

  14. veng_ says:

    You know, Blizzard just makes me sick. For starters they try to say in a press release that they deserve rights to the DOTA name for reasons like how they have put time into making DOTA better for the users. It’s a load of RUBBISH. I’ve been playing Warcraft 3 since it first came out untill now! And they have done NOTHING to fix DOTA, nor have they even so much as made any actual in game differences when they rarely manage to put in a patch. The only thing I’ve seen the patches even do is just to make it so everyone gets dis-connected!
    Blizzard are only speaking up about this because they wanted to be the ones to make all the money out of DOTA, despite the fact that the actual maker of DOTA has been around for years and they have not come to him once with anything.
    If anyone deserves a big pay out for creating and updating DOTA its Icefrog because hes constantly done updates to the dota map and hes even totally changed the way we as gamers perceive the very art of online gaming. Not to mention hes done this all for nothing in return.
    I just don’t understand why Blizzard and Valve even deserve to have a say in it at all. Let alone Blizzard, who are just money grubbing bastards and need to learn how to properly maintain their games. Rant over.

  15. Yosharian says:

    Ho ho ho, this is embarassing for Blizzard. I wonder what happened behind the scenes.

  16. UnravThreads says:

    To be honest, this court case shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

    Should it, Valve? No, it shouldn’t.

    • Pasco says:

      It was of course Blizzard that brought this issue to a head, so I’m not sure what blame you can lay at Valve’s door here?

  17. kwyjibo says:

    Dota should just be genericised, it already is in practice.

    Then we can just call the genre dota instead of this bullshit MOBA-thing.

    • marcusfell says:

      I actually prefer MOBA as a genre name, since Defense of the Ancients might not lend itself to sci-fi, etc.

  18. stupid_mcgee says:

    This is a very good outcome. The last thing this needed was to actually go to courts. Asides from just getting messy and very costly for both parties, the potential outcomes could have laid some rather problematic precedent.

    Glad to see common sense and a desire to make good games won out over corporate interest.

  19. Kamikaze_Tutor says:

    Next week: Sony sues Blizzard for the rights of the word “All-Stars”.

  20. chestbuster1987 says:

    Don’t you just love it how Blizzard seem to be running around in panic over Dota? They didn’t seem to care enough to offer the creators of Dota anything to work with (even though it was the most popular Warcraft 3 map). They just ignored the developers who practically kept Warcraft 3 alive through the years and now that another company made the obvious realization that Dota has potential, they’re scared they won’t get a cut, even though they have little to nothing to do with the product.