Earlier this week, clever game modders released word (and some YouTube videos) of something called "World of StarCraft," a mod that aimed to turn StarCraft 2 into an MMO. Although the mod is far from completion, it caught a lot of people's attention, including the attention of Blizzard itself.
Something like this puts Blizzard in a slightly awkward position. On one hand, the company has to remain friendly to the mod community -- these are the hardest of the hardcore fans of the company's products, and if StarCraft is anything, it's a community-driven game. But on the other hand, they have to protect their intellectual property. We've heard rumors of a StarCraft MMO before, and although it doesn't look like it's actually in production, you have to figure Blizzard would like to retain rights to the name "World of StarCraft," so they have a vested interest (and legal obligation!) to keep people from using it.. Hence the takedown notice issued to YouTube on the videos.
RATING: StarCraft 2 Review
Today, the company has responded, and their carefully worded response is a minor-masterpiece in public relations, and how to politely respond to fans who love your game so much they take parts of it they probably shouldn't touch. As such, I'll print the entire response below the "Read More" tag.
"Earlier this week, a player-made StarCraft II mod called World of StarCraft and described as a “StarCraft MMO” was featured on a number of prominent gaming news sites, catching the attention of gamers as well as our own. With the name so closely resembling that of World of Warcraft, we wanted to discuss the title of the mod with the developer, and as part of our routine procedure, we contacted YouTube to request the video be removed while that discussion took place. We were also curious about the project and wanted to discuss with the developer what the mod entailed.
It was never our intention to stop development on the mod or discourage the community from expressing their creativity through the StarCraft II editor. As always, we actively encourage development of custom maps and mods for StarCraft II, as we’ve done with our strategy games in the past. That's why we release an editor with our RTS games, and why we feature top player-created content in the custom game search. It's also why we held a contest to spotlight the best community-crafted StarCraft II mods at last year's BlizzCon, and why we’ll continue to improve Battle.net to better showcase player-created content.
Like many players in the community, we’re looking forward to seeing the continued development of this mod, and as part of our ongoing discussion, we've extended an offer to the developer to visit the Blizzard campus and meet with the StarCraft II development team. As always, we appreciate all of the efforts of the talented and enthusiastic mod-making community, and we look forward to seeing and playing what they create using the StarCraft II editor in the future."
I imagine we'll see word of this mod again, but look for a name change of some kind. I'm no lawyer, but I'll bet you anything Blizzard is keeping the name "World of StarCraft" for its own uses in the future.