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Blizzard Entertainment

From Academic Kids

Blizzard Entertainment is a highly successful PC game developer and publisher. Since its release of Warcraft in 1994, it has been one of the most successful game development studios in the world. It is headquartered in Irvine, California.

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Blizzard Entertainment logo

Contents

Overview

Blizzard Entertainment was founded in February, 1991 as Silicon & Synapse by Mike Morhaime, Allen Adham and Frank Pearce. The company developed games like Rock & Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings (published by Interplay Productions). In 1994, the company briefly changed its name to Chaos Studios, before finally settling on Blizzard Entertainment after it was discovered that another company with the Chaos name already existed. That same year, they were acquired by distributor Davidson & Associates for under USD$10 million. Shortly thereafter, Blizzard shipped their breakthrough hit Warcraft.

Blizzard has changed hands several times since then: Davidson was acquired by a timeshare company called CUC International in 1996; CUC then merged with a hotel, real-estate, and car-rental franchiser called HFS Corporation to form Cendant Software, in 1997. In 1998 it became apparent that CUC had engaged in accounting fraud for years before the merger; Cendant's stock lost 80% of its value over the next six months in the ensuing widely discussed accounting scandal. The company sold its consumer software operations, including Blizzard, to French publisher Havas in 1998, the same year Havas was purchased by Vivendi. Blizzard is now part of the VU Games group of Vivendi Universal.

In 1996, Blizzard acquired Condor Games, which had been working on the game Diablo for Blizzard at the time. Condor was renamed to Blizzard North, and has since developed hit games Diablo, Diablo II, and its expansion pack Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Blizzard North is located in San Mateo, California.

Blizzard launched their online gaming service Battle.net in January of 1997 with the release of their action-RPG Diablo.

On May 16, 2005, Blizzard announced the acquisition of Swingin' Ape, a console game maker currently working on Starcraft: Ghost.

Titles

As of 2004, Blizzard is currently overseeing development on a stealth action game called StarCraft: Ghost, by Swingin' Ape.

Bnetd

A group of gamers reverse engineered the network protocol used by Battle.net and Blizzard games, and released a free, GNU General Public Licensed battle.net emulation package called bnetd. With bnetd, a gamer is not required to use the official battle.net servers to play Blizzard games.

In February of 2002, lawyers retained by Blizzard threatened legal action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act against the developers of bnetd. Blizzard games are designed to operate online exclusively with a set of Blizzard-controlled servers collectively known as "battle.net". Battle.net servers include a CD key check as a means of preventing software piracy.

Despite offers from the bnetd developers to integrate Blizzard's CD key checking system into bnetd, Blizzard claims that the public availability of any such software package facilitates piracy, and moved to have the bnetd project shut down under provisions of the DMCA. As this case is one of the first major test cases for the DMCA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation became involved, for a while negotiations were ongoing to resolve the case without a trial. The negotiations failed however, and Blizzard won the case on all counts: the defendants were ruled to have breached both StarCraft's End User License Agreement (EULA) and the Terms of Use of Battle.net. [1] (http://blizzard.com/press/041008.shtml)

FreeCraft

On June 20 2003, Blizzard obtained a cease and desist order against an open source clone of the Warcraft engine called Freecraft. This hobby project had the same gameplay and characters as Warcraft II, but came with different graphics and music. It was written from scratch and no Blizzard code was used.

As well as a similar name, Freecraft enabled gamers to use Warcraft II graphics, provided they had the Warcraft II CD. The programmers of the clone shut down their site without challenge. Soon after that the developers regrouped to continue the work by the name of Stratagus.

Ready At Dawn

In 2003, some of the members of Blizzard left to form a new development company, Ready At Dawn, with some ex-members of Naughty Dog.

Trivia

  • The phrase "There is no cow level" is a running joke started by the company's game designers stemming from repeated rumors on Battle.net that a "secret cow level" existed in Diablo. The phrase "There is no cow level" was a cheat code in the original Starcraft game. In Diablo 2, a cow level was made as a secret level.
  • In Blizzard's strategy games (the Starcraft and Warcraft series), clicking on a character repeatedly will invoke humorous sound bites, with the most famous being the Orc Grunt's "Stop poking me!"
  • In Blizzard's strategy games (the Starcraft and Warcraft series), clicking on a "critter" repeatedly about 20 times will make it explode with a big explosion.

See also

External links

The Bnetd case

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