Earlier this week we got Warcraft III Reforged, the remaster of Blizzard’s 2002 RTS Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its follow-expansion Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. The remaster was announced at BlizzCon 2018 and was in beta late last year.
The return of RTS again
I pre-ordered this back during BlizzCon 2018… we were only mad at them about Diablo Immortal that year… and have been looking forward to giving it a try. Warcraft III was the last step before World of Warcraft for Blizzard. WoW was very much a mash up of EverQuest ideas (the whole MMORPG thing), some Diablo II mechanics (itemization, skill trees, health pots, and so on), and the Warcraft III lore.
I went back to play Warcraft III a ways back to experience a bit of the pre-history of WoW and it was, with the hindsight perspective, a prototype of what WoW would become. It is a key part of the Warcraft franchise, which according to SuperData Research, has earned $19.2 billion in digital revenues over the last 25 years.
Includes Hearthstone as part of the franchise. Does not include physical retail sales
Given all that I am keen to carve out some time to see what Blizzard has done with the remaster. That will probably happen next month at the earliest, given that we’re at the end of the current month. That will also give Blizz a chance to fix some of the bugs that have been reported already.
Of course, being the immediate predecessor of WoW is not the only the only thing Warcraft III is famous for. It is responsible for kicking of another genre whose revenue no doubt eclipses that of the Warcraft franchise.
With the the Defense of the Ancients mod, the whole MOBA genre that would lead to League of Legends, DOTA 2, and Blizzard’s own Heroes of the Storm was created.
Who made $1.5 billion in 2019 alone?
Blurb also from SuperData Research.
Given that Heroes of the Storm is the distant third place runner in that race… and that Valve managed to grab control of the DOTA trademark which meant changing the games name from Blizzard DOTA to Blizzard All-Stars and later to Heroes of the Storm… Blizzard is no doubt still smarting at some level about all of that. I mean, having to have this up on the Blizzard main site has to irk them.
DOTA is a trademark of Valve Corporation and used under license. By making use of the term “DOTA” in any content posted on any Blizzard website or battle.net, you agree that use of this trademark is subject to Valve’s trademark guidelines found at https://store.steampowered.com/legal.
Not that I think having the DOTA name would have made Blizzard the MOBA winner. They were almost six years late to the party, only launching Heroes of the Storm in 2015, by which time LoL was already king. DOTA 2 rolled in two years ahead of HotS and was able to grab the “lesser alternative to LoL” spot in the genre.
But all the same Blizzard isn’t going to let that happen again. So in there as part of their “Custom Game Acceptable Use Policy,” basically their mod rules, they make it clear up front in the first bullet that they own every aspect of any mod you make for the game:
Ownership: 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. If for any reason you are prevented or restricted from assigning any rights in the Custom Games to Blizzard, you grant to Blizzard an exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, unconditional, royalty free, irrevocable license enabling Blizzard to fully exploit the Custom Games (or any component thereof) for any purpose and in any manner whatsoever. You further agree that should Blizzard decide that it is necessary, you will execute any future assignments and/or related documents promptly upon receiving such a request from Blizzard in order to effectuate the intent of this paragraph. To the extent you are prohibited from transferring or assigning your moral rights to Blizzard by applicable laws, to the utmost extent legally permitted, you waive any moral rights or similar rights you may have in all such Custom Games, without any remuneration. Without limiting Blizzard’s rights or ownership in the Custom Games, Blizzard reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to remove Custom Games from its systems and/or require that a Custom Game developer cease any and/or all development and distribution of a Custom Game. Please note that your Blizzard account can be subject to disciplinary action in event that you do not comply with Blizzard’s request or this Policy.
Nobody is going to create a whole new genre with their product and then walk off to another company like Valve to get it developed again. Of course, this policy isn’t a huge incentive to spend time developing something new in the Warcraft III editor, but there it is. The company has protected itself. (The statement applies to all mods for all Blizzard games, but was updated just before this week’s launch, so people are taking it specifically as a Warcraft III thing since the old version wasn’t so draconian.)
And so it goes. I’ll still play it. The MOBA thing doesn’t interest me in any case. But I’ve already seen people grumbling about this pre-emptive land grab on Discord and Reddit.
Now we just need that Diablo II remaster, the third of the three promised remasters, though some of the original teams says that Blizz cannot make a remaster due to said team’s near disastrous mistake back in the day. But this could also just be sour grapes as the Blizzard North team seems to be bitter about how things turned out for them nearly 20 years down the road.