Why it matters: Though Blizzard is a bit of a controversial figure now, in truth, many of the gaming world’s favorite titles wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for the company’s past efforts. The original DOTA started as a MOBA mod for Blizzard’s original Warcraft 3 and later spawned an entire Valve-owned franchise.
Unfortunately, we might not see a situation like that one occur again with Blizzard’s recently-launched Warcraft 3 “Reforged” remake. A recent change to Blizzard’s Warcraft 3 Reforged Acceptable Use policy ensures the company owns all copyrights to any content created in custom games.
“Custom Games are and shall remain the sole and exclusive property of Blizzard. Without limiting the foregoing, you hereby assign to Blizzard all of your rights, title, and interest in and to all Custom Games, including but not limited to any copyrights in the content of any Custom Games,” Blizzard’s Acceptable Use Policy reads.
The Policy goes on to state that, if for some reason (perhaps due to local or federal law) you are unable to grant Blizzard the aforementioned rights, the company owns an “exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, unconditional,” and “royalty free” (not to mention “irrevocable”) license to use your content in whatever capacity it sees fit. This means it could also order you to cease and desist the distribution and development of a project at will.
To be clear, not all of this language is new — the bit about mandatory copyright transfers is the main fresh addition to the Acceptable Use Policy. However, we wanted to include some context for those who haven’t seen the policy before.
It’s not hard to understand why Blizzard has made this decision. If a player has a particularly good idea, of course Blizzard will desire control of it. The last thing they want is another developer, such as Valve, to snag the idea and its copyrighted material (such as custom characters or art) and spin it off into a new, competing project.
Whether or not this newly-changed policy is morally or ethically “right” is for you to decide, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comments.