Well this had to happen, but not in the way it actually did. Blizzard sought to stop Valve from trademarking the “DOTA” name, associated with a custom map for its highly successful Warcraft III franchise that eventually broke off from its parent game and is being developed by Valve as DOTA 2. Blizzard, till now, had no problems with this since Valve was not taking anything that was explicitly its own to use – considering that DOTA was fan-made and fan-enjoyed from start to finish. However, Blizzard does have a problem with Valve trying to trademark the DOTA name.
The gist is that Blizzard never owned or wanted to own the DOTA name. It merely exuded goodwill to its fans and wishes to let the name be open and free for anyone to use. It’s a lot like the name “chess”. If Zynga decided to suddenly trademark the name “Chess” for one of its absurd Facebook games, it would look odd and many people will call foul. That is exactly what Blizzard is doing:-
By attempting to register the mark DOTA Valve seeks to appropriate the more than seven years of goodwill that Blizzard has developed in the mark DOTA and in its Warcraft 3 computer game and take for itself a name that has come to signify the product of years of time and energy expended by Blizzard and by fans of Warcraft 3. Valve has no right to the registration it seeks. If such registration is issued, it not only will damage Blizzard, but also the legions of Blizzard fans that have worked for years with Blizzard and its products, including by causing consumers to falsely believe that Valve’s products are affiliated, sponsored or endorsed by Blizzard and are related or connected to Warcraft 3.
This surprising turn of events also had a tow of die-hard Valve fans calling foul on Blizz because Valve Cannot Do Anything Wrong®
Blizzcon, Blizzard’s annual convention showcasing their games franchises went into high gear yesterday over at the Anaheim Convention Center in California.
One of the highlights from yesterday’s keynote was that Blizzard announced that Diablo III will be available for free. Now before you jump up and down or question how the heck Blizzard can do that – there’s a catch.
The catch is that Diablo III will be available for free for those who have signed up for the World of Warcraft Annual Pass. Quoting from Battle.net blog post:
Players who make a 12-month subscription commitment to World of Warcraft through the WoW Annual Pass will receive the following epic rewards:
Diablo III FREE Download the digital version via Battle.net for free when the game launches early next year. This is the full game, not a trial edition.
Tyrael’s Charger WoW Flying Mount Ride for the Archangel of Justice on all current and future characters on a single World of Warcraft account. Tyrael’s Charger will arrive via in-game mail with the upcoming launch of patch 4.3.
Access to the Next WoW Expansion Beta Test Get a guaranteed spot in the beta test for the next World of Warcraft expansion (at a time to be announced in the future).
Seems like a pretty decent deal. But do remember – World of Warcraft is not free( fee is at $14.99 per month, the amount reduces if you pay for a higher period of time). And this deal isn’t for new customers – one of the prerequisites is that you need to have a fully registered member of World of Warcraft on or before October 18th.
Having said that, this is a very good deal for hardcore World of Warcraft fans and loyalists. Now whether they’ll have any time to spare for Diablo III and World of Warcraft remains to be seen.
Those interested can sign up for the Annual Pass over here.
Now, Blizzard took it one step further by actually filing a lawsuit against the developers of the hack. Three hackers from the Los Angeles district were accused of copyright infringement:-
Just days after the release of Starcraft II, Defendants already had developed, marketed, and distributed to the public a variety of hacks and cheats designed to modify (and in fact destroy) the Starcraft II online game experience. In fact, on the very day that Starcraft II was released, representatives of the hacks Web site advised members of the public that our staff is already planning new releases for this game’
When users of the Hacks download, install, and use the Hacks, they copy StarCraft II copyrighted content into their computer’s RAM in excess of the scope of their limited license, as set forth in the EULA and ToU, and create derivative works of StarCraft II
Not only is Blizzard accusing them of infringement, it’s also demanding payment for damages caused. Ouch, hackers.
Blizzard, oh Blizzard I have a love-hate relationship with you. If you were on Facebook, it’d be it’s complicatedbetween us. To seduce me, you make great games such as Diablo, Warcraft and the original Starcraft. Then you progress quite nicely into the comfort phase with Warcraft III and then you go insane and start marketing World of Warcraft and pretty much stop making those games that I loved.
Then you make Starcraft II and suddenly the world is a slightly better place.
But now, you’re thinking about making a movie on Starcraft? That too with fluorescent Protoss bashing up colorful Terrans with gooey Zergs involved? Calm down! I must confess that Avatar was not exactly the greatest movie I have seen. Prettiest, possibly but not the greatest. So you do realize that many of us have inhibitions with James Cameron directing a project on Starcraft.
That’s what Rob Pardo, EVP of Game Design at Blizzard was talking about to MTV Multiplayer:-
We’ve always had an interest in seeing our stuff on film or TV. It’s just tricky to find the right partners. We probably could have made a [‘StarCraft’] movie or something on TV years and years ago, but it’s really important to us that we find creative people that are really talented but also really excited about our properties. That’s always been the challenge for us. I think if Jim Cameron came to us tomorrow and said, ‘You want to make a ‘StarCraft’ movie?’ we’d probably sign that.
The universe of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs) is slowly, but inevitably, moving towards the free-to-play with microtransactions paradigm. With big players such as Atari and Codemasters publishing Dungeon and Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online with the free-to-play model, Blizzard has soon realized that the next big installment to their World of Warcraft (WoW) universe has to be free-to-play. Or, their next big MMO game. (World of Starcraft perhaps?)
I feel like they’re doing that to compete with other games that are on a similar subscriber level to what they were at. I imagine that when one of them went free to play it cannibalized some of the other subscribers. I can definitely imagine that being the case with World of Warcraft. If another game comes along and blows us away it may not make sense for us to have a subscription fee. Or even further down the line, when we have another MMO out.
As we can clearly make out, this is an idea that has been bouncing around their heads for sometime now, but they have yet to push it through. Hopefully, we might get to see a new MMO from Blizzivision (Blizzard + Activision) that does things right, is epic and is free to play!
While it is not certain as to what is the criteria for folks getting the beta download links, it is certain that beta invites are being sent out in batches. StarCraft Legacy also points to a new beta portal where beta testers can get information about the patches coming out and provide feedback on the game.
While you’re waiting for those invites, you might want to check out some interviews G4TV has posted with some core members of the StarCraft II team.
So are you amongst the lucky few who have got access to the beta ? How’s the experience been ? Do share your views in the comments section!
As I logged into Battle.Net page today, I noticed an interesting link in my profile which was missing till now:
Yes, that’s right! StarCraft II, one of the most anticipated games of the year will be entering the closed beta stage this month. To opt in for the beta you will need need to build up a beta profile containing your system specifications.
To build up a beta profile, however, you will need a Battle.net account and atleast one registered Blizzard game. While I made use of my Diablo II registration, if you don’t own any Blizzard game, but still are interested in signing up for the closed beta – fear not. Just sign up for World of Warcraft free trial. Following this, World of Warcraft will feature in your Battle.net account as a registered game, and you can proceed with signing up for the beta.
So what’re you waiting for! Go grab that Battle.net account and enlist for StarCraft II Beta!