19 Years Later, Man Pays Diablo Dev For A Game He Pirated As A Teen

19 Years Later, Man Pays Diablo Dev For A Game He Pirated As A Teen

Turns out, it’s never too late to do the right thing. Last week in San Francisco, the Game Developers Conference held a postmortem for Diablo, the classic PC game released in 1996. Headlined by David Brevik, a co-founder of Blizzard North, the presentation gave a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at how the action role-playing game came to be. You can read more about that here, or even take a look at the original Diablo pitch document here.

At the end of the postmortem, there was a Q&A session. One man, Shivam Bhatt, got up to ask a question. That’s when an idea popped into his head.

“I asked a question about Battle.net and while he answered, I started checking my wallet,” Bhatt told me over email. He counted $US40 — around the amount Diablo would have cost back in 1996, when it was originally released — and, in front of the GDC attendees, he told Brevik that he was going to pay for the copy of Diablo he pirated in 1997.

“I was 16 years-old, and my friend had gotten his first ever CD-R drive (1x),” Bhatt told me. “It took something like four hours to copy a game or music CD, and the discs themselves were hella expensive. We were just excited to try it out.

“My friends and I used to drag our PCs and monitors to each others houses for LAN parties, and we didn’t always have the games that everyone wanted to play, so boom, we learned how to copy games to play. Diablo was part of this trend, because Battle.Net meant not having to lug our boxes around. We were all huge fantasy fans, and Warcraft 2 fans, so the idea of a new Blizzard game that was like D&D was just incredible.

“As high schoolers, we didn’t all have much in the way of money, and my mum wasn’t about to buy a game like Diablo for me, so copying was the way. It was one of the first games passed around my group like this.”

It goes deeper than that, though: Bhatt told me that the friend who first lent him the Diablo disc passed away of cancer.

Diablo was our favourite thing to do together,” Bhatt said. “I felt that thanking the creator of our shared passion was the best way I could honour my friend’s memory.”

I think Brevik appreciated the gesture:

The entire thing wasn’t planned, though — it was all spontaneity, inspired by the great talk Brevik gave.

“Seriously, who plans on going up to one of their favourite game creators in public and saying ‘Hi, I stole your game 20 years ago!'” Bhatt joked.

Diablo 1 is one of my favourite games, and if my gesture brought Mr Brevik even a fraction of the joy his game gave me, I’ll consider it entirely worth it,” Bhatt said. “We all do dumb things as kids, and when we see the chance to rectify some of our mistakes, we should.”


  • “Diablo was our favourite thing to do together,” Bhatt said. “I felt that thanking the creator of our shared passion was the best way I could honour my friend’s memory.”

    Pretty touching, a good way to honour his friends memory. I don’t think Brevik would’ve held it against him if he didn’t pay, just told him the story honestly about his friend passing and how it brought them together, but it’s still a noble gesture :'(

  • He needn’t have felt too bad… Pretty sure there’s more than a few folks like me out there who’ve bought the same game multiple times due to lost/scratched CD keys/discs. It’s gotta go some way to subsidizing the Pirates. 🙂

    • lost/scratched CD keys or banned 😛 map hacks and character mods were just so fun and/or useful.

    • And don’t forget the bundle packs where you always got at least one duplicate of a game you already had. I own Operation Flashpoint 3 times now and I’ve had a copy of Gunship on every computer I’ve ever owned.

      • Hence all the slashes.

        Still, I should have been more specific. By ‘The same game’ I meant the same game that we have already paid for (which in my case for the franchise, includes one extra copy of the original Diablo, three copies of Diablo 2 vanilla, two of the Lord of Destruction stand-alone, one bundle including both, and two copies of Diablo 3), not ‘the same game as this guy pirated’.

  • I know I’m in the minority but I never liked Diablo.

    Played a few dungeons and got bored of the click click click “gameplay”.
    Could not stand the mouse controls. These type of games definitely need a controller or at least the WASD/Arrow keys.
    I did like the Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance and Raven’s X-Men series so maybe I should give Diablo 3 a try.

    • Do it on console. The PC control system for D3 is the same as the other versions on PC.

      (I fundamentally disagree with you and think you’re utterly wrong, but if you’re going to persist in being so very, very wrong about opinion, then you might as well get advice that lets you be so god damn wrong in comfort.)

      • When I reduce my pile of shame games I might give D3 a try on the PS3. Not gonna bother with the PC then as I can’t stand those mouse controls.

    • I definitely agree about trying the console Diablo Diablo Diablo (Or “Diablo 3” if you want to be all boring about it). It almost feels like a twin stick shooter in the way they’ve done the controls, they’re surprisingly intuitive.

        • Just the tiniest bit awful, yeah. It was tolerable if you played as the archer or fighter but mage was just awful, all that specific targeting with a slow, floaty imprecise substitute for a mouse pointer… ugh…

          • Oh I thought the PSone version was ok? At least you used a controller and not a mouse 😛

    • I loved Diablo, but +1’s for the feels of Raven’s X-Men Legends, especially #2. Loved that game so much. Marvel Ultimate Alliance just wasn’t as good.

      • It’s been ages since I’ve played then but I think I like XML1 better than 2. Yes MUA was pretty average so I never played it’s sequel.

        • XML1 was all about that chick, XML2 had good guys and bad guys up against Apocalypse, thought it was a good excuse to have good guys and bad guys playable together.

          MUA2 was pretty good, more cinematic than the other ones, worth checking out before the new Civil War movie as it follows a similar story 🙂

  • “Someone who pirates a video game is someone who never would have bought that game anyway so you cannot describe that as a lost sale because that person was never going to buy the ga-wait what.”

    • ‘Hey Leigh, thanks for coming in to work yesterday, I’ll get round to paying your wage in 20 years. That cool with you?’

      Yeah, this isn’t the example you’re looking for.

  • In the photo of the 2 guys together, am I the only one seeing a bit of a similarity to @fatshadylive?

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