- Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. Type Subsidiary of Activision Blizzard Industry Video Games Predecessor Silicon & Synapse
Founded 1991 as Silicon & Synapse
1994 as Chaos Studios
1994 as Blizzard Entertainment
Headquarters Irvine, California, USA Key people Michael Morhaime (president and co-founder)
Frank Pearce (vice president and co-founder)
Rob Pardo (vice president)
Chris Metzen (vice president of Creative Development)
Allen Adham (former president and co-founder)
Products Warcraft series
Employees 4,600 (As of 2009) Parent Activision Blizzard Website blizzard.com
Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. is an American video game developer and publisher founded on February 8, 1991 under the name Silicon & Synapse by three graduates of UCLA, Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham and Frank Pearce and currently owned by French company Activision Blizzard. Based in Irvine, California, the company originally concentrated primarily on the creation of game ports for other studios before beginning development of their own software in 1993 with the development of games like Rock N' Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings. In 1994 the company became Blizzard Entertainment Inc before being acquired by distributor Davidson & Associates and later by Vivendi. Shortly thereafter, Blizzard shipped their breakthrough hit Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. Blizzard went on to create several successful PC games, including the Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo series, and the MMORPG World of Warcraft.
On July 9, 2008, Activision officially merged with Vivendi Games, culminating in the inclusion of the Blizzard brand name in the title of the resulting holding company, though Blizzard Entertainment remains a separate entity with independent management. Blizzard Entertainment offers events to meet players and to announce games: the BlizzCon in California, United States, and the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in other countries, such as Paris, France and Seoul, South Korea.
- 1 History
- 2 Titles
- 3 Privacy controversy and Real ID
- 4 Warden Client
- 5 Legal disputes
- 6 Battle.net 2.0
- 7 Companies created by former employees
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Blizzard Entertainment was founded by Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham, and Frank Pearce as Silicon & Synapse in February 1991, a year after all three had received their bachelor's degrees from UCLA. In the early days the company focused on creating game ports for other studios. Ports include titles such as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I and Battle Chess II: Chinese Chess. In 1993, the company developed games like Rock N' Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings (published by Interplay Productions).
In early 1994 they were acquired by distributor Davidson & Associates for $6.75 million. The same year 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. Shortly thereafter, Blizzard shipped their breakthrough hit Warcraft: Orcs and Humans .
Blizzard has changed hands several times since then: Davidson was acquired along with Sierra On-Line by a company called CUC International in 1996; CUC then merged with a hotel, real-estate, and car-rental franchiser called HFS Corporation to form Cendant 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, Sierra On-line which included Blizzard, to French publisher Havas in 1998, the same year Havas was purchased by Vivendi. Blizzard was part of the Vivendi Games group of Vivendi. In July 2008 Vivendi Games merged with Activision, using Blizzard's name in the resulting company, Activision Blizzard.
In 1996, Blizzard acquired Condor Games, which had been working on the game Diablo for Blizzard at the time. Condor was renamed Blizzard North, and has since developed hit games Diablo, Diablo II, and its expansion pack Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Blizzard North was located in San Mateo, California; the company originated in Redwood City, California.
Blizzard launched their online gaming service Battle.net in January 1997 with the release of their action-RPG Diablo. In 2002, Blizzard was able to reacquire rights for three of its earlier Silicon & Synapse titles from Interplay Entertainment and re-release them under Game Boy Advance. In 2004, Blizzard opened European offices in the Paris suburb of Vélizy, Yvelines, France, responsible for the European in-game support of World of Warcraft. On November 23, 2004, Blizzard released World of Warcraft, its MMORPG offering. On May 16, 2005, Blizzard announced the acquisition of Swingin' Ape Studios, a console game developer which had been developing StarCraft: Ghost. The company was then merged into Blizzard's other teams after StarCraft: Ghost was 'postponed indefinitely'. On August 1, 2005, Blizzard announced the consolidation of Blizzard North into the headquarters at 131 Theory in UC Irvine's University Research Park in Irvine, California. In 2008, Blizzard moved their headquarters to 16215 Alton Parkway in Irvine, California.
World of Warcraft was the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994. Blizzard announced World of Warcraft on September 2, 2001. The game was released on November 23, 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise.
The first expansion set of the game, The Burning Crusade, was released on January 16, 2007. The second expansion set, Wrath of the Lich King, was released on November 13, 2008. The third expansion set, Cataclysm entered into closed beta testing in late June 2010 and was released to the public on December 7, 2010.
With more than 12 million monthly subscriptions in October 2010, World of Warcraft is currently the world's most-subscribed MMORPG, and holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG by subscribers. In April 2008, World of Warcraft was estimated to hold 62 percent of the MMORPG subscription market. In 2008, Blizzard was honored at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for the creation of World of Warcraft. Mike Morhaime accepted the award.
Title Year Genre as Silicon & Synapse RPM Racing 1991 Racing video game Battle Chess (Windows and Commodore 64 ports) 1992 Chess Battle Chess II: Chinese Chess (Amiga port) 1992 Chess J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I (Amiga port) 1992 Role-playing game Castles (Amiga port) 1992 Strategy video game MicroLeague Baseball (Amiga port) 1992 Sports video game Lexie-Cross (Macintosh port) 1992 Puzzle video game Dvorak on Typing (Macintosh port) 1992 Educational game The Lost Vikings 1992 Side-scrolling video game Rock N' Roll Racing 1993 Racing game Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye 1994 Mahjong Solitaire as Blizzard Entertainment Blackthorne 1994 Platform game The Death and Return of Superman 1994 Side-scrolling video game Warcraft: Orcs & Humans 1994 Real-time strategy game Justice League Task Force 1995 Versus fighting game Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness 1995 Real-time strategy game Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal 1996 Expansion pack Diablo 1996 Role-playing game The Lost Vikings II 1997 Side-scrolling video game StarCraft 1998 Real-time strategy game StarCraft: Brood War 1998 Expansion pack Warcraft II: Battle.net Edition 1999 Real-time strategy game Diablo II 2000 Role-playing game Diablo II: Lord of Destruction 2001 Expansion pack Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos 2002 Real-time strategy game Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne 2003 Expansion pack World of Warcraft 2004 MMORPG World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade 2007 Expansion pack World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King 2008 Expansion pack StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty 2010 Real-time strategy game World of Warcraft: Cataclysm 2010 Expansion pack Diablo III In Beta Role-playing game StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Under development Expansion pack World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Under development Expansion pack StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Under development Expansion pack Titan (project name) Under development MMO
Notable unreleased titles include Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, which was cancelled on May 22, 1998, Shattered Nations, and Starcraft: Ghost, which was "Postponed indefinitely" on March 24, 2006 after being in development hell for much of its lifespan, and whose current status is in question. The company also has a history of declining to set release dates, choosing to instead take as much time as needed, generally saying a given product is "done when it's done."
Pax Imperia II was originally announced as a title to be published by Blizzard. Blizzard eventually dropped Pax Imperia II, though, when it decided it might be in conflict with their other space strategy project, today known as StarCraft. THQ eventually contracted with Heliotrope and released the game in 1997 as Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain.
Blizzard Entertainment has announced that they will be producing a Warcraft live-action movie. The movie will be released by Legendary Pictures. They have recently announced that director Sam Raimi has agreed to direct the upcoming movie.
Privacy controversy and Real ID
On July 6, 2010 Blizzard announced that they were changing the way their forums worked to require that users identify themselves with their real name. The reaction from the community was overwhelmingly negative with multiple game magazines calling the change "foolhardy" and an "Epic Fail". It also resulted in the largest user response ever on the Blizzard forums. This included personal details of a Blizzard employee who gave his real name "to show it wasn't a big deal". Shortly after revealing his real name, personal information was posted including his phone number, picture, age, and home address.
Some technology media outlets suggested that displaying real names through Real ID is a good idea and would benefit both Battle.net and the Blizzard community. But others were worried that Blizzard were opening their fans up to real-life dangers such as stalking, sexual predators, and employment issues, since a simple Google search by your employer will reveal your online activities.
Blizzard initially responded to some of the concerns by saying that the changes would not be retroactive to previous posts, that parents could set up the system so that minors cannot post, and that posting to the forums is optional. However due to the huge negative response, Blizzard President Michael Morhaime issued a statement rescinding the plan to use real names on Blizzard's forums for the time being.
Blizzard has made use of a special form of software known as the 'Warden Client'. The Warden client is known to be used with Blizzard's Online Games such as Diablo and World of Warcraft, and the Terms of Service contain a clause consenting to the Warden software's RAM scans while a Blizzard game is running.
The Warden client scans a small portion of the code segment of running processes in order to determine whether any third-party programs are running. The goal of this is to detect and address players who may be attempting to run unsigned code or third party programs in the game. This determination of third party programs is made by hashing the scanned strings and comparing the hashed value to a list of hashes assumed to correspond to banned third party programs. The Warden scans all processes running on a computer, not just the World of Warcraft game, and could possibly run across what would be considered private information and other personally identifiable information. It is because of these peripheral scans that Warden has been accused of being spyware and has run afoul of controversy among privacy advocates.
The Warden's reliability in correctly discerning legitimate vs illegitimate actions was called into question when a large scale incident happened when many Linux users were banned after an update to Warden caused it to incorrectly detect Cedega as a cheat program. Blizzard issued a statement claiming they had correctly identified and restored all accounts and credited them with 20 days play.
The Warden is not the first time Blizzard Entertainment has been accused of attempting to inspect customers' computers. In 1998 Blizzard Entertainment had a class action lawsuit filed against them for "unlawful business practices" for the action of collecting data from a user's computer without their permission.
On June 20, 2003, Blizzard issued a cease and desist letter to the developers of an open source clone of the Warcraft engine called FreeCraft, claiming trademark infringement. This hobby project had the same gameplay and characters as Warcraft II, but came with different graphics and music.
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.
World of Warcraft Private Server Complications
On December 5, 2008, Blizzard issued a cease and desist letter to many administrators of high population World of Warcraft private servers (essentially slightly altered hosting servers of the actual World of Warcraft game, that players do not have to pay for). Blizzard used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to influence many private servers to fully shut down and cease to exist. In 2008 a private server by the name of ChaosCrusade was served with a DMCA notification.
Founder Electronics infringement lawsuit
On August 14, 2007, Beijing University Founder Electronics Co., Ltd. sued Blizzard Entertainment Limited for copyright infringement claiming 100 million yuan in damages. The lawsuit alleged the Chinese edition of World of Warcraft reproduced a number of Chinese typefaces made by Founder Electronics without permission.
MDY Industries, LLC v. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Blizzard released its revamped Battle.net service in 2009. This service allows people who have purchased Blizzard products (StarCraft, StarCraft II, Diablo II, and Warcraft III, as well as their expansions) to download digital copies of games they have purchased, without needing any physical media. In the future, it will store a player's "Blizzard Level" (similar to a Gamerscore).
On November 11, 2009, Blizzard required all World of Warcraft accounts to switch over to Battle.net Accounts. This transition now means that all current Blizzard titles can be accessed, downloaded, and played with a singular Battle.net login.
Companies created by former employees
Over the years, some former Blizzard employees have moved on and established gaming companies of their own:
- Flagship Studios, creators of Hellgate: London, also worked on Mythos.
- ArenaNet, creators of the Guild Wars franchise.
- Ready at Dawn Studios, creators of Daxter, God of War: Chains of Olympus and an Ōkami port for the Wii.
- Red 5 Studios, currently working on Firefall, a free to play game MMOG.
- Castaway Entertainment, currently in a state of financial crisis, ceased working on a game similar to the Diablo series, Djinn.
- Click Entertainment, creators of Throne of Darkness.
- Carbine Studios, currently working on a massively multiplayer title "WildStar".
- Turpitude Design, founded by Stieg Hedlund.
- Hyboreal Games, founded by Michio Okamura.
- Runic Games, founded by Travis Baldree, Erich Schaefer, and Max Schaefer; creators of Torchlight.
- Undead Labs, founded by Jeff Strain. Currently working on a Zombie MMO for consoles.
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- ^ "MMOG Active Subscriptions 21.0", MMOGCHART.COM, June 29, 2006.
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- ^ Glenday, Craig (2009). Craig Glenday. ed. Guinness World Records 2009. GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS (paperback ed.). Random House, Inc.. p. 241. ISBN 0553592564, 9780553592566. http://books.google.com/?id=aHYt0RNSDfgC&pg=PA269&dq=9780553592566#v=onepage&q=most%20popular%20MMORPG. Retrieved September 18, 2009. "Most popular MMORPG game(sic) In terms of the number of online subscribers, World of Warcraft is the most popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG), with 10 million subscribers as of January 2008."
- ^ Williams, Becky (August 24, 2009). "Video: Backstage at BlizzCon 2009:Thousands of World of Warcraft fans descend on southern California for Blizzard's epic gaming convention". The Daily Telegraph (UK). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/video-games/6081496/Video-Backstage-at-BlizzCon-2009.html. Retrieved September 18, 2009. "Set in the fantasy world of Azeroth it currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG, which probably accounts for why Blizzard is the most bankable games publisher in the world."
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- ^ "Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition – Records – PC Gaming". Archived from the original on April 5, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080405020338/http://gamers.guinnessworldrecords.com/records/pc_gaming.aspx. "World of Warcraft is the most popular MMORPG in the world with nearly 12 million subscribers around the world."
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- ^ a b c d "Company Profile". Blizzard Entertainment. http://eu.blizzard.com/en/inblizz/profile.html. Retrieved July 7, 2008. "Prior to the release of Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, Blizzard served as a third-party developer, creating entertainment software for various platforms, including DOS, Macintosh, Sega Genesis, and Super Nintendo. The company's best-known titles from this era include Rock 'n Roll Racing, The Lost Vikings, Blackthorne, and The Death and Return of Superman." [dead link]
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- ^ http://forums.battle.net/thread.html?topicId=25626109041&sid=3000&pageNo=1
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- ^ "Fans rage over Blizzard forum plans". http://www.computerandvideogames.com/254846/news/fans-rage-over-blizzard-forum-plans/.
- ^ Why Blizzard’s new forum plan is an epic fail. PC Gamer (2010-07-07). Retrieved on July 8, 2011.
- ^ a b c "Row over gamers' true identities". BBC News. July 7, 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10543100.
- ^ Ben Kuchera. "Blizzard: post about StarCraft 2? Use your real name". http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2010/07/blizzard-post-about-starcraft-2-use-your-real-name.ars.
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- ^ "You Want Your Real Name Publicly Associated With Your World Of Warcraft Account, Right?". http://consumerist.com/2010/07/you-want-your-real-name-publicly-associated-with-your-world-of-warcraft-account-right.html.
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- ^ Linux Users Banned From World of Warcraft? | Linuxlookup. Web.archive.org (February 16, 2008). Retrieved on July 8, 2011.
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- ^ Blizzard legal targets private servers (Accessed Oct. 12, 2009)
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- ^ Corynne McSherry (2010-12-14). "A Mixed Ninth Circuit Ruling in MDY v. Blizzard: WoW Buyers Are Not Owners – But Glider Users Are Not Copyright Infringers Legal Analysis". http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/12/mixed-ninth-circuit-ruling-mdy-v-blizzard-wow.
- ^ von Lohmann, Fred (2009-09-25). "You Bought It, You Own It: MDY v. Blizzard Appealed". Electronic Frontier Foundation. http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/09/you-bought-it-you-own-it-mdy-v-blizzard-appealed. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
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Company and corporate
- Blizzard's website
- Blizzard UK's website
- Battle.Net website
- 2008 Worldwide Invitational
- Blizzard Retrospective (documentary)
The Bnetd case
- "Blizzard's official statement on battle.net emulators". Archived from the original on October 24, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20071024202100/http://www.battle.net/support/emulationfaq.shtml.
- A rebuttal to Blizzard's official emulation statement
- Yale LawMeme's analysis of the case
- EFF page on case
Blizzard Entertainment Main franchises Other titles People Miscellaneous
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