Undoubtedly fans of World of Warcraft and StarCraft have always been curious what a StarCraft MMO would look like. One such fan and mod maker for StarCraft2 tried to answer that question this week. This LSB we investigate the drama, ideas and reality of the so called World of StarCraft.
Ryan Wizen, a mod maker for StarCraft 2, released footage of a mod called World of StarCraft on youtube. The video depicts the early stages of what a StarCraft MMO would look like if it was made in the wake of the World of Warcraft formula. Activision/Blizzard’s legal department sent Ryan an email and asked for it to be taken down along with siting copyright infringements and other legal issues.
What the Media is Saying
Brendan Drain over at Massively starts us off with, “Today brings some bad news for fans of the World of StarCraft mod and its development, as Activision has finally taken notice. The alpha trailer released on YouTube has been removed at the request of Activision, the reason being cited as copyright and intellectual property violations.” Leigh Alexander of Gamasutra writes, “It’s unclear yet whether Blizzard, which has a new large-scale MMO of its own in development, takes major issue with the project itself — raising speculation of possible overlap with actual Blizzard projects in development. It seems likely the problem is simply the name “World of StarCraft”, which rather overtly employs two of its brands: not just StarCraft, but its World of Warcraft too, and may violate the copyrights Blizzard has spanning both names.”
“There is, however, a silver lining in all of this. The popularity and quality of the mod caught the attention of Riot Games, the creators of League of Legends.” writes Larry Everett of Massively. Andy Chalk of The Escapist says, “Winzen was contacted by Riot Games, the developer behind League of Legends, and offered a shot with the studio. He said it’s not a “100 percent guaranteed thing” and that he’ll still have to make his way through the application process and testing, but Riot Design Director Tom Cadwell confirmed on the League of Legends forum that the offer had been extended.”
While many jumped on Blizzard and Activision for the removal of the video, it would seem both Blizzard and Wizen are denying any wrong doing. Chalk reports on Blizzards statement which includes, “Like many players in the community, we’re looking forward to seeing the continued development of this mod, and as part of our ongoing discussion, we’ve extended an offer to the developer to visit the Blizzard campus and meet with the StarCraft 2 development team. As always, we appreciate all of the efforts of the talented and enthusiastic mod-making community, and we look forward to seeing and playing what they create using the StarCraft 2 editor in the future.”
Also of note is Ryan Wizen’s statement which at one point he exclaims, “Literally overnight I’ve grown from a nobody to a guy that half a million people want to design a mod. I’ve had professional composers contact me, dozens upon dozens of game designers and programmers and organizers. Many professionals seeking a fun hobby project even though there is NO MONEY TO BE MADE. ( At this time premium maps is still just a concept ).” You can read his full statement here.
You may have noticed that I skipped the second set of responses, usually quoting a few community members from various comment sections. While normally I enjoy doing this, when Blizzard or Activision are mentioned the general intelligence and wit of comments tends to degrade quickly. From Massively’s two page discussion on the meaning of Capitalism to the variations of Blizzard and/or Activision names combined with obscenities on The Escapist. The only decent comments seem to be coming from few and far between.
Essentially, I think this entire story needed a day to sink in before being reported on. The issue was not that big of a deal and came down to the naming of the mod, which Wizen had clearly violated some copyrights with. At no time had Blizzard or Activision ever served a Cease and Desist order. Blizzard later made a statement encouraging its development and offered a trip to Wizen to come and meet the StarCraft 2 team. All of the drama associated with this entire issue came out of the minds of Anti-Blizzard hate mongers or those who just didn’t take the time to understand more than what the headlines had told them.
Both Blizzard and Wizen have made statements saying there is not major issue here and that reasonable discussion has been made to alleviate any concerns on either side. Yet like most provocative news stories in the gaming industry, it exploded with the inputs of the more ignorant masses. What should be the story here is not the legal issues but more that Wizen did a great job of showing of the potential for a StarCraft MMO within a game not even designed for the mechanics. It’s a great mod and with the encouragement of Blizzard could become something greater.
I suggest everyone take a breath, calm down, set the Blizz hate aside, and give a smile to yet another community modder getting closer to the dream of working in the industry.
Great work, Mr. Wizen. We at Vagary wish you the best.