Blizzard Owns Your Custom Warcraft 3: Reforged Games

Blizzard Owns Your Custom Warcraft 3: Reforged Games
Image: Warcraft 3: Reforged

It is a fact somewhat lost to time”though certainly not one Blizzard will ever forget”that the eternally enduring MOBA genre got its start in Blizzard games. Riot and Valve, however, ended up reaping the rewards of seeds that were sown by custom game-makers in StarCraft and Warcraft 3. After a 2012 lawsuit, Valve even got to keep the “Dota” name that originally took root in Warcraft 3. With Warcraft 3: Reforged, it seems that Blizzard is not keen on allowing history to repeat itself.

As spotted by PC Gamer, Blizzard’s acceptable use policy now contains some new fine print. Specifically, it states that any and all custom games created by players belong to Blizzard”and only Blizzard.

“Custom Games are and shall remain the sole and exclusive property of Blizzard,” reads the policy. “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. If for any reason you are prevented or restricted from assigning any rights in the Custom Games to Blizzard, you grant to Blizzard an exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, unconditional, royalty free, irrevocable licence enabling Blizzard to fully exploit the Custom Games (or any component thereof) for any purpose and in any manner whatsoever.”

The acceptable use policies of other companies like Riot and Valve also yank quite a bit of power from players’ hands, but mostly in service of allowing those companies to promote custom game types they deem worthwhile and remove those that are, say, plastered with copyrighted material from other properties. Blizzard’s policy includes similar clauses, but it takes things a step further by claiming copyright dominion over all custom games.

On one hand, Blizzard still allows players to collect donations in support of custom game development, and there’s an option to develop custom games for profit, albeit only if it’s “authorised by Blizzard in writing.” But on the other, it’s hard to conceive of a scenario in which this doesn’t give pause to modders eager to make sandcastles, sand men, and sand angels in Warcraft 3‘s newly-upgraded fantasy sandbox. Sure, there’s no reason not to mess around with Blizzard’s tools, but if you’ve got your sights set on something grander”even if it’s not Dota 3.7, Auto Chess: Shogi Edition, or some other Next Big Thing”why explore the idea in an environment where it’s not even really yours?

That said, these rules would not fully prevent somebody from coming up with an idea in Warcraft 3: Reforged and then making a standalone version of it elsewhere. Game genres cannot, generally speaking, be copyrighted. Names and assets (even custom ones), however, can. That’s what Blizzard is laying claim to here. The company likely doesn’t want to risk missing out on a slice of the next Dota‘s pie, which makes sense.

However, custom games types often evolve over the course of multiple iterations and across multiple games. Dota may never have blown up the way it did without that kind of freedom. We now live in a world where, hypothetically, somebody could remake a Warcraft 3: Reforged custom game mode in Dota 2 and, if they used similar names and assets, find themselves in violation of copyright law. In that sense, we’ve come full circle”only now, things are worse.


  • Everything about this release sounds like garbage. Double pleased that I didn’t shell out for it now.

  • It’s a little hard to know exactly how this would play out in a court. Certainly the clause would improve Blizzard’s argument, as would their practically unlimited cash for corporate lawyers, but there are plenty of work arounds available to courts to frustrate enforcement of overly broad one-sided boilerplate take it or leave it clauses like this.

  • This is an interesting attempt by Blizzard to ‘steal’ other peoples work.

    However, if you apply it to other products you quickly see how absurd Blizzards stance is.


    – Adobe claims all your artwrok made in paint shop pro
    – Microsoft claims all your software developed in Visual Studio
    – Electrolux claims your custom oven mod that lets you race it down the street
    – Toyota claims your custom made window shades for your car as they are better than their own.

    etc etc etc

  • Of course, I mean why come up with your own things when you can just claim ownership?

    Blizzard could have made something as good as League or Dota with Heroes of the Storm… But then they went and tried to reinvent the fucking wheel, only to be all surprised for some reason when people actually thought the wheel just fine the way it was.

    • I really enjoyed HOTS. It was a Moba without all the ridiculous guff. But everything was super expensive and the FOMO tactics started getting worse and worse.

      • It was a Moba without all the ridiculous guff.
        I’d argue that is precisely why it failed to put a dent in LoL or Dota.

        Trying to be different is all well and good, right up until you release a game that is simply too different to the ones you’re trying to steal the attention from.

        HOTS was basically MOBA-lite/casual as far as the genre defined by LoL or Dota goes.

        • It was a better version.

          I stopped playing because the heroes were too limited by money ball.

          • If you thought Hots was the better version out of Dota and Lol then maybe this genre isn’t for you. It is easily the worst of the three.

            I was looking forward to it before it was released and was shocked at how babyish and basic it was.

          • Or perhaps gatekeeping the “real” gamers behind this or that particular version of any genre is why a lot of perfectly good games fail.

            Coming into a type of game fresh and needing to watch 5 hours of youtube videos (but not THAT video because that was made 3 months ago and the meta is all different now and furthermore this 0.2 second cooldown nerf on Tchernobog’s Waking Nightmare power basically means there’s no counter to Malacoda’s Tail Lance and the devs don’t know what the FUCK they’re doing) is the perfect way to make me never care about it. That shit is what killed comics in the 90s.

            So yeah, a MOBA that doesn’t need me to constantly learn and relearn the systems while juggling 40,000 esoteric items is a good idea. I just don’t want to have to keep opening my wallet every 5 minutes for the privilege.

          • I came to Dota 2 fresh with no prior gameplay knowledge or videos or anything. Just got into it, died a lot and kept pushing until I became serviceable at the game (have since retired from the genre as it brought out the worst in me).

            Hots felt like Babys first Moba to me.

            But that’s what opinions are aren’t they. Just opinions.

          • I also don’t want to smash my head against a wall for 20+ hours trying to get good enough at a game so I can start enjoying it.

            Yeah, sure. Opinions are opinions. But some opinions make you sound like a jerk and deciding that a thing is bad because people don’t want to engage with a thing in exactly the same way you do. It’s fine to dislike it, but to imply it’s “for babies” or whatever is weird.

          • Agreed, Ruddaga your opinion is terrible. “This genre isnt for you” to someone who says they enjoy it. The fact that you dont play it anymore because it ‘brings out the worst in you’ says a lot, you’re easily triggered and tilted, and are quite toxic. Which you exhibited here. Also stop calling it a ‘moba’. You say you prefer dota, so you should know dota doesn’t adhere to the riot patented ‘moba’ term that it created to separate itself away from dota, dumb ass.

          • Pokedad, you had an opinion. I disagreed with it but didn’t call you a name. My opinion is Hots is a babyish easy version of a moba. Won 100% of the games I played before I stopped because it was just slow and easy. Apologies if this offends your delicate nature. Once again, was just my opinion.

            Frogbeard – Guest – Mate the only toxic triggered one is here. I’m sorry I have called out the baby game you enjoy (which even Blizzard is slowly giving up on) and it’s triggered that toxic response from you but hey…. Blizzard fans are the worst, Am I right? And like I said, I haven’t played Dota in years, so I couldn’t give a rats what they prefer to be called, but I guess if that’s all you’ve got, it’s all you’ve got ;D

  • They must be so salty they werent able to really cash in on someone elses work back with the original DOTA.

    I cannot stand Activision/Blizzard these days.

    • They were the darling child of the gaming industry for so long, and it seemed they could do o wrong. It really has been a spectacular fall from grace, hasn’t it?

      • It took way longer than I feel it should have, people really love to defend awful practices if they are in a game that they like.

        • That sums up the Pokemon games pretty nicely too. I didn’t realise how much of a cash drain they were until sword/shield because I haven’t played one since 2nd or 3rd gen.

          • I don’t see how?

            A fully fleshed out RPG with like 40 hours of content and then a DLC double pack costing like $40 a year later is not analogous to live service bullshit in any way.

          • I meant more that they still do the split exclusives between two copies of the game sword/shield etc and then commonly they later release a 3rd edition later that has some slight changes. If any other game started doing that there would be hell to pay.

            I got my money’s worth out of Sword, don’t know whether I’ll buy the DLC later though and the Pokemon Home rubbish providing features that should already be in the game and charging for it is a bit harsh. I’m not talking about importing pokemon from other games, couldn’t care less about that but a half decent trading system should already exist in game. I was surprised/disappointed that there wasn’t one there when I wanted the Shield exclusive pokemon.

            You also get the fun of them doubling down on exclusives with Gigantimax versions that only spawn in raids on one or the other…making it god damn hard to get it you want one from the other game. Especially when the co-op raid feature is a pile of steaming trash and 9 times out of 10 you can’t join a random raid someone else has opened up.

            So yeah…I got my money’s worth for playtime but there’s still a lot I’m not happy with about the game and additional paid features being lumped in on top doesn’t make me feel any better.

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