Guy Finds StarCraft Source Code And Returns It To Blizzard, Gets Free Trip To BlizzCon

Guy Finds StarCraft Source Code And Returns It To Blizzard, Gets Free Trip To BlizzCon

Last month, Reddit user Khemist49 made a truly unlikely find: A gold master source code disc of the original StarCraft. From 1998. At first, he didn’t know what to do with it. Ultimately, he sent it to Blizzard, who was very grateful to have it back.

Khemist49 first came across the disc in a “box of Blizzard stuff” he purchased on eBay. He was shocked at what he saw — a CD-R that read “StarCraft Gold Master Source Code”. When he first posted about it on Reddit, some people asked him to rip its contents and make them freely available, while others derided him as “scummy” for holding on to the disc. He wrote that the decision over what to do with it was driving him “crazy”.

After days of deliberation, Khemist49 said he heard from Blizzard directly. He said the publisher’s legal team had asked him to return the disc because it contained “intellectual property and trade secrets”. He sought legal advice about what to do, but ultimately decided to err on the side of caution and send it to Blizzard. For his troubles, he received a copy of Overwatch and $US250 ($337) in Blizzard store credit. Cool. He figured that was the end of it.

Guy Finds StarCraft Source Code And Returns It To Blizzard, Gets Free Trip To BlizzCon

But in an elated post yesterday, Khemist49 said that he received a phone call from a Blizzard employee. “He asked me if I have ever heard of BlizzCon,” wrote Khemist49. “I said well, yeah of course but it’s impossible for me to go. I live in the east coast, and the badges are always sold out before you can refresh the page. He said well, the reason we are calling you is to invite you to BlizzCon, all expenses paid, and we would love to take you out for drinks.”

Blizzard also mailed him a giant box full of Overwatch and Diablo PC peripherals and paraphernalia.

Speaking to Kotaku by email, Blizzard confirmed Khemist49’s story, saying the company “wanted to show an appropriate level of appreciation to the player for doing the right thing, not just from Blizzard, but on behalf of the large and active community of players who still enjoy StarCraft today”.

Moral of the story: If you find something you think somebody has lost or had taken from them, return it. Especially if you can verify that it belongs to Blizzard Entertainment.


  • See how nice your fans are Blizz? A bit of reciprocation in the form of WoW Legacy servers out of the question???? hmmm? maybe?

    • I am not so sure about that. It’s still a business company with Bobby Kotick as a CEO.
      It’s a nice gesture and an even better advertisement.

      • Blizzard Entertainment is an independent subsidiary with Mike Morhaime as CEO. They develop and publish their own titles independently. Activision Blizzard (which Kotick is the CEO of) is just a parent holding company. Blizzard Entertainment is financially accountable to Activision Blizzard, but the influence ends there – Activision Blizzard has no say over Blizzard Entertainment’s development practices or operations.

      • That’s a good point, but I’d prefer to take it on face value. Even if they are manipulating public opinion, the fact is a guy did a cool thing for them, and they did a really cool thing for him.

        That’s the way it should work!

  • I know its illegal, but I would have dumped that sucker online. I’m a bit of a preservationist tbh, and things get preserved the best when they are out in the open.

    • Its not your intellectual property to make that choice. Its like finding a book and releasing it without asking the author if they minded. If it becomes open, instead of preserving it for the ages, there would then be thousands of potentially different, edited or manipulated versions

      • If it becomes open, instead of preserving it for the ages, there would then be thousands of potentially different, edited or manipulated versions

        To be fair, it would be both. Some people will want to spread it and play with it and make different versions, but there are preservationist types who’ll want a straight copy just for the sake of keeping it around.

      • Note the part where I acknowledged its illegal :P. And of course I have a choice in that position, just that choice might not be legal :P.

        And for the diversion theory, history says otherwise. Take Quake for example. Source released. Sure, we’ve had mods, but if you want to play Quake on a modern PC (or any other device for that matter) in 2017, the community has you covered. Warzone 2100. Source was released by Eidos. Game is still actively maintained and available on more platforms than the original was released. There’s plenty of other examples as well. Ultimately, what you said just simply isn’t true.

  • aww man, if that code was documented the documentation could then have been used to implement starcraft properly in stratagus. Blizzard legal would have been freaking out about Starcraft remastered being worth $0.00 if someone modified the sourcecode to add higher resolution support.

      • Also good to see he didn’t organise the rewards before handing it back. Too many people would have been tempted to respond to the lawyers with a demand for compensation else they release the sucker. Safe to say the only reason he got so much for it was he returned it in good faith.

  • I think he did the right thing, but it would be an interesting legal position on whether he owned it or not. Did the person selling the box of stuff on EBAY have the right to do so? How did they get that box? Or the person before them, or before that. How did the source disc get out of Blizzard’s control in the first place? Theft, or gift to a coder?

    You may find that the original ownership of the disc was perfectly legal, and whether first-sale doctrine was in play. Which would mean he might have been able to do anything he wanted with it.

    Having said that, as I said, I think he did the right thing. And got some stories to tell out of it. Kudo’s for him, and kudo’s for Blizzard for thanking him in a positive way. Its a small thing for them, but great PR.

      • Which would have made it ‘receipt of stolen goods’ if he hadn’t returned it. So probably a good thing he did!

  • Old story but not sure why everyone praised this dude.. He was tossing up what to do any only did the right thing after being contacted by blizzards lawyers AND seeking legal advice himself. He lucked out with how generous blizzard was but I don’t think he deserved it at all tbh. His choice was made from fear not from whet he wanted to do

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