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
Blizzard’s claim on custom-game copyrights is important because, while it’s
hard to effectively copyright the basic
concept of a game , you can copyright the original characters, art, and writing associated with the game itself. Blizzard learned this the hard way a decade ago, when Valve bought the from some of the modders who created it. Dota copyright After Valve’s rights were confirmed in a 2019 out-of-court settlement , Valve was able to turn around and create Dota 2 . Blizzard, meanwhile, had to settle for creating the Dota – style Heroes of the Storm with its own characters . A similar process repeated itself last year with
Auto Chess , a popular mod built on top of Valve’s Dota 2 . While the general autobattler concept has become popular enough to become a genre in its own right .
, Valve’s terms of service never claimed ownership of the copyright for Dota 2 ‘s derivative works. Thus, the name Auto Chess still belongs to developer Drodo Studio, which used it to create a standalone version of the game for the Epic Games Store
Under Blizzard’s new legal language, any similar games created from the base of
Reforged would be completely controlled by Blizzard. While other developers would be able to copy the general gameplay for their own purposes, any derivative games that use the same name, art, or characters would belong to Blizzard.
While Blizzard does not allow custom-game developers to engage in direct “commercial exploitation” from their creations, those developers are allowed to accept donations to recoup the “time and resources” involved in creating the game (with some restrictions). Blizzard also retains the right 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.”
These more restrictive policies probably won’t have a direct effect on the vast majority of
Warcraft modders, who create custom content for fun more than for profit. But if another mod of a Blizzard game becomes a hot new trend in the gaming world, this new language could ensure that the resulting profits go to Blizzard and not the modders themselves. We are currently examining all the other changes made in Warcraft III: Reforged (for better and worse) and should have a report in the coming days.