Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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.
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.
- The Lost Vikings (1992) - platform game
- Rock & Roll Racing (1993) - racing game
- Blackthorne (1994) - fantasy platform game
- The Death and Return of Superman (1994) - side-scrolling beat 'em up
- Warcraft (1994) - fantasy real-time strategy game
- Justice League Task Force (1995) - one-on-one fighting game
- The Lost Vikings II (1995) - platform game
- Warcraft II (1995) - fantasy real-time strategy game
- Diablo (1996) - action-oriented computer role-playing game
- StarCraft (1998) - science fiction real-time strategy game
- StarCraft: Brood War (1998) - expansion pack
- Diablo II (2000) - action-oriented RPG
- Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (2001) - expansion pack
- Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002) - fantasy real-time strategy game
- Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (2003) - expansion pack
- World of Warcraft (2004) - MMORPG set in the Warcraft universe
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.
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.
The Bnetd case
- The bnetd homepage (currently re-directed to Blizzard's battle.net homepage)
- Blizzard's official statement on battle.net emulators
- A rebuttal to Blizzard's official emulation statement
- Yale LawMeme's analysis of the case
- The EFF Continues to Fight for BnetD
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