Blizzard Entertainment was founded in 1991 as Silicon & Synapse. The company developed games like Rock & Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings (published by Interplay Productions) and then was acquired in 1994 by distributor Davidson & Associates for under $10 million. Shortly thereafter, Blizzard shipped their breakthrough hit Warcraft.
Blizzard has changed hands several times since then: Davidson was acquired by CUC in 1996; then CUC merged with HFS Corporation to form Cendant Software in 1997. After Cendant experienced a massive accounting scandal, its consumer software operations, including Blizzard, were sold 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.
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2 Upcoming games
5 External Links
6 The Bnetd case
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.
Unfortunately, battle.net servers not infrequently are inaccessible or disconnect players during games. A group of gamers became tired of being disconnected from their games, reverse engineered the network protocol used by battle.net and Blizzard games, and released a free, GPL'ed battle.net emulation package called bnetd. With bnetd, a gamer is not required to use the official battle.net site to play Blizzard games.
Despite offers from the bnetd developers to integrate Blizzard's CD key checking system into bnetd, Blizzard claims that the public availability of any such software package facilitates piracy, and moved to have the bnetd project shut down under provisions of the DMCA. As this case is one of the first major test cases for the DMCA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation became involved, and as of June 2002, negotiations were ongoing to resolve the case without a trial.
On June 20 2003, Blizzard obtained a cease and desist order against an open source clone of the Warcraft engine, 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.