Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blizzard Rolling Greed?

It's hard to determine the motive, but one can easily be led to believe that the merge of Activision and Blizzard is starting to change Blizzard. The company known as Blizzard has always been about the community, or at least done a hell of a job appearing as such.

They were put in a bad spot by mod creators charging a fee for their freelance development work. Blizzard didn't like this and ordered cease and desist orders on monetary fee based mods. I think its safe to say the mods have evolved ten fold and probably aren't what Blizzard was expecting when WoW launched. The man hours it takes to create something like Carbonite or Quest Helper has to be very large. These guys wanted some compensation for their hard work and Blizzard put the kabosh on the deal. I can see Blizzard's point. This is their game and if anyone is to make money off of it, its them. These mods are great but I guess could be looked at as leeches or mooches.

Next up was the iPhone apps. At first Blizzard seemed to go after the apps that cost money. Again, while I personaly might not agree, I understand. Then they pretty much surprised everyone by squashing free apps. These apps didn't mine the armory for information or interact with the game in any way, but thats Blizzard's intellectual property and they don't want anyone messing with it. This is when I started to question Blizzard. It doesn't seem right. These apps were doing nothing but supporting WoW. Saturating the market with pro-WoW stuff would be good in my opinion. Most games don't have their own support apps on iTunes, so if someone accidentally browses and sees one they might question what the game is about and download the free trial. Luckily I bought or downloaded them all and while none of them are neccessary, they are neat to have. Warcraft Chest is just a simple app with the loot drops from launch to Ulduar. It doesn't mine info from anywhere, it simple is a sortable database of information. To me this is no different from going to Allakhazam, WoWhead, or Thottbot. They display the same information and have adds all over their sites. The only real conclusion to make is that Blizzard is working on their own iPhone apps. So ok. Whatever. This is still annoying though.

Then the straw that broke the camel's back. There is a German web comic by a couple of WoW fans. The comic is named Shakes and Fidget. Yesterday WoW Insider broke the story that Activision-Blizzard has issued a cease and desist on the comic. I immediately went to the Shakes and Fidget site and was shocked to find zero ads. These guys appear to just be huge fans of WoW and decided to take the hobby of comic making and share their WoW humor. For the life of me I can't think of why this was such a big deal. Blizzard has always promoted fan sites. Now it seems they are pulling their IP card and choking anyone who uses it.

It really feels like they are starting to alienate their hardcore fans. They've gone from being super supportive to tightly restrictive in a short period of time. The only conclusion to really draw is that the taint of Activision is bleeding over and effecting Blizzard. I pray they don't forget why their fans are so loyal to their products. So many developers have fallen victim to greed and I had really hoped Blizzard was going to...well, be Blizzard and go against the grain as usual. I could be totally wrong, but I don't see why they ordered a free web-comic with no ads on their site to stop spreading the WoW love in Germany. You would think they would be honored that these guys are taking their talents and supporting WoW.

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