Blizzard Allows Release Of Fan-Game It Initially Tried To Shut Down, Reaps Rewards It Should Have Had All Along
from the derp dept
We’ve dinged Blizzard quite a bit in these pages for acting overly protectionist of its intellectual property in the past. And that dinging has been well deserved, with Blizzard doing things like trying to twist copyright law as a way to combat cheat software within its multiplayer games, to use intellectual property as an excuse to shut down a World of Warcraft vanilla fan-server, and has otherwise not always acted in human or awesome ways towards its own fans.
But sometimes, with much kicking and screaming and the insistence of making many a mistake along the way, even a company like Blizzard can manage to do what game companies like DoubleFine have already done: loosen the leash on its own IP and reap the rewards. StarCraft Universe is a fan-made mod that consists of a full new game in a genre that Blizzard had never taken the StarCraft universe into.
StarCraft Universe takes place in an alternate timeline where Kerrigan got torn chitinous dreadlock-from-weird spider spine at the end of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. After that, it didn’t take long for the Hybrids to bring down the Protoss as well. It’s up to a few remaining survivors to, you know, not die.
“We wanted to combine the third person action RPG elements of World of WarCraft, the combat mechanics of Diablo, and the starship mechanics ofFTL with the StarCraft setting,” Upheaval wrote. “We wanted the game to be completely voice acted with a unique story, custom art assets, and a fresh musical score.”
You can see the trailer for the game here and you’ll see that it looks pretty slick for a fan-made construction. Fully voiced characters and an original score, combined with gameplay elements familiar to fans of World of Warcraft and FTL. Using the StarCraft IP and some homebrew elements, this is a whole new world and a whole new experience for StarCraft fans, who are amongst the most passionate.
And if any of this feels familiar to you, it’s because the project had originally begun in 2011 before Blizzard smacked it down.
Just a reminder: this is the mod that got announced in 2011 as World of StarCraft, ran afoul of Blizzard’s lawyers, caused hella controversy,relaunched with a new name, got Blizzard’s approval, and went on Kickstarter to ultimately rake in $84,918.
Rather than simply whipping out the intellectual property hammer and dealing a deathblow, Blizzard ended up communicating with the Upheaval team and allowing it to eventually move forward. It even allowed the group to run a Kickstarter campaign for it, along with an ongoing IndieGoGo page where gamers can donate to the developers of what is an otherwise free-to-play game.
The result? Well, loads of comments on all kinds of articles can be generally summed up as saying, “This looks cool! I have to go buy StarCraft 2!” Which is what should have been allowed to happen five years ago, if Blizzard had had the foresight to leash its lawyers instead of its fans. But better late than never, as they say, and Blizzard is fully on board with this now, with SC Universe appearing in the StarCraft Arcade store. Good will, more paying customers, and an expanded game universe, all for the cost of not being overly protectionist of intellectual property. Lesson learned, Blizzard?