Blizzard Entertainment is an American video game developer and publisher headquartered in Irvine, California. It is a division of Activision Blizzard. Blizzard is probably best known for its successful multiplayer online roleplaying game, World of Warcraft. They also created several games including the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo series.
Blizzard has changed hands several times since then: Davidson was acquired along with Sierra On-Line by a company called CUC International in 1996; CUC then merged with a hotel, real-estate, and car-rental franchiser called HFS Corporation to form Cendant 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, Sierra On-line which included Blizzard, to French publisher Havas in 1998, the same year Havas was purchased by Vivendi. Blizzard was part of the Vivendi Games group of Vivendi. In July 2008 Vivendi Games merged with Activision, using Blizzard's name in the resulting company, Activision Blizzard.
In 1996, Blizzard acquired Condor Games, which had been working on the game Diablo for Blizzard at the time. Condor was renamed Blizzard North, and has since developed hit games Diablo, Diablo II, and its expansion pack Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Blizzard North was located in San Mateo, California.
Blizzard launched their online gaming service Battle.net in January of 1997 with the release of their action-RPG Diablo. In 2002, Blizzard was able to reacquire rights for three of its earlier Silicon & Synapse titles from Interplay Entertainment and re-release them under Game Boy Advance. In 2004, Blizzard opened European offices in the Paris suburb of Vélizy, Yvelines, France, responsible for the European in-game support of World of Warcraft. On November 23, 2004, Blizzard released World of Warcraft, its MMORPG offering. On May 16, 2005, Blizzard announced the acquisition of Swingin' Ape Studios, a console game developer which had been developing StarCraft: Ghost. The company was then merged into Blizzard's other teams after StarCraft: Ghost was 'postponed indefinitely'. On August 1, 2005, Blizzard announced the consolidation of Blizzard North into the headquarters at 131 Theory in UC Irvine's University Research Park in Irvine, California.
|Game Name||Release Year||Genre|
|RPM Racing||1991||racing game|
|Battle Chess (Windows and Commodore 64 ports)||1992||chess|
|Battle Chess II: Chinese Chess (Amiga port)||1992||puzzle game|
|J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I (Amiga port)||1992||role-playing game|
|Castles (Amiga port)||1992||strategy|
|MicroLeague Baseball (Amiga port)||1992||sport|
|Lexi-Cross (Macintosh port)||1992||game show|
|Dvorak on Typing (Macintosh port)||1992||education|
|The Lost Vikings||1992||platform game|
|Rock N' Roll Racing||1993||racing game|
|Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye||1994||mahjong solitaire|
|Blackthorne||1994||cinematic platform game|
|The Death and Return of Superman||1994||side-scrolling beat 'em up|
|Warcraft: Orcs & Humans||1994||fantasy real-time strategy game|
|The Lost Vikings II||1995||platform game|
|Justice League Task Force||1995||fighting game|
|Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness||1995||fantasy real-time strategy game|
|Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal||1996||expansion pack|
|Diablo||1996||action-oriented fantasy role-playing game|
|StarCraft||1998||science fiction real-time strategy game|
|StarCraft: Brood War||1998||expansion pack|
|Warcraft II: Battle.net Edition||1999||fantasy real-time strategy game|
|Diablo II||2000||action-oriented fantasy role-playing game|
|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.|
|World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade||2007||expansion pack|
|World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King||2008||expansion pack|
|StarCraft II||under development||science fiction real-time strategy game|
|Diablo III||under development||action-oriented fantasy role-playing game|
|An unannounced next-gen MMO||under development||MMO|
|StarCraft: Ghost||indefinitely postponed||third-person shooter|
Notable unreleased titles include Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, which was cancelled on May 22, 1998, Shattered Nations, and StarCraft: Ghost, which was "indefinitely postponed" on March 24, 2006 after being in development hell for much of its lifespan, and whose current status is in question. The company also has a history of declining to set release dates, generally saying their products are "done when it's done.
Pax Imperia II was originally announced as a title to be published by Blizzard. Blizzard eventually dropped Pax Imperia II, though, when it decided it might be in conflict with their other space strategy project, the now-legendary StarCraft. THQ eventually contracted with Heliotrope and released the game in 1997 as Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain.
A group of gamers reverse engineered the network protocol used by Battle.net and Blizzard games, and released a free (under the GNU GPL) 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 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.
This decision was appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which also ruled in favor of Blizzard/Vivendi on September 1, 2005.
The Warden client scans the process names, window titles, and a small portion of the code segment of running processes in order to determine whether any of these third-party programs are running. This determination is made by hashing the scanned strings and comparing the hashed value to a list of hashes assumed to correspond to cheat programs. The Warden scans all processes running on a computer, not just the World of Warcraft game, and could possibly run across what would be considered private information and other personally identifiable information. It is because of these peripheral scans that Warden has been accused of being spyware and has run afoul of controversy among privacy advocates.
The Warden's reliability in correctly discerning legitimate vs illegitimate actions has been called into question due to actions Blizzard has taken regarding the information gathered by Warden. Most notably, that it appears that many players are reported as violating the EULA/TOS by the program, and subsequently banned, when in fact they are not cheating. A large scale incident happened when many Linux users were banned after an update to Warden caused it to incorrectly detect Cedega as a cheat program. Blizzard issued a statement claiming they had correctly identified and restored all accounts and credited them with 20 days play. Blizzard has regularly stated that the Warden sends no information, only a violation flag, to the home server. However, without specific information, having been sent by the Warden software initially, it would have been impossible for Blizzard to discern Cedega users from actual violators.
The Warden is not the first time Blizzard Entertainment has attempted to look at their customer's computers. In 1998 Blizzard Entertainment had a class action lawsuit filed against them for "unlawful business practices" for the action of collecting data from a user's computer without their permission.