Soon after videos of the project made it onto YouTube, Blizzard quickly demanded that they be pulled, and many people - including the creator - thought that this was the beginning of a process to shut down the mod altogether.
To gamers familiar with Blizzard, this probably sounds a little strange. After all, the developer heavily supports its modding community and even provides a toolkit to assist their efforts. So, why would they want to stop such a promising mod? Well, as it turns out, they don’t.
Nowadays we're used to big corporations shutting down any project that infringes on existing property, even if said project is motivated by loyalty and adoration. Blizzard has since revealed in a press release that their intentions weren't to squash this budding experiment, but simply a standard procedure since it was given the name of World of StarCraft:
"Earlier this week, a player-made StarCraft II mod called World of StarCraft and described as a StarCraft MMO was featured on a number of prominent gaming news sites, catching the attention of gamers as well as our own. With the name so closely resembling that of World of Warcraft, we wanted to discuss the title of the mod with the developer, and as part of our routine procedure, we contacted YouTube to request the video be removed while that discussion took place. We were also curious about the project and wanted to discuss with the developer what the mod entailed.
"It was never our intention to stop development on the mod or discourage the community from expressing their creativity through the StarCraft II editor. As always, we actively encourage development of custom maps and mods for StarCraft II, as we've done with our strategy games in the past. That's why we release an editor with our RTS games, and why we feature top player-created content in the custom game search. It's also why we held a contest to spotlight the best community-crafted StarCraft II mods at last year's BlizzCon, and why we'll continue to improve Battle.net to better showcase player-created content."
Following this announcement, Blizzard invited the mod’s creator Ryan Winzen to meet with the StarCraft 2 development team for further discussion. But they aren't the only ones interested in getting some face time. Riot Games, developer of League of Legends, has also extended an offer to Mr. Winzen to interview for a position with their team.
So virtually overnight, what started out as heart-breaking news has turned into an amazing opportunity for the creator of World of StarCraft. With news this positive, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a host of copyright infringing mods pop up in the next few weeks.
Naturally, this story has renewed conversation about a StarCraft MMO, and why it is that Blizzard hasn't gotten around to making one yet. In fact, there are many clues that suggest this title may already be in production. Blizzard has confirmed that an MMO they call Titan is in the works, but it would be a surprise if the team wasn't using a codename for any potential World of StarCraft development.
The success of World of Warcraft and its expansions are reason enough for Blizzard to expand its MMO domain, since the only direction to go is up. A StarCraft MMO would attract both WoW players and StarCraft 2 players, and the combination of two of the most beloved Korean pass-times could only mean good business.
Overall, Blizzard handled this situation beautifully, and it's wise on their part to respect the modders who put countless hours into work they will likely never see a penny from. Amazing games can be born out of successful mods and Defense of the Ancients owes everything to WarCraft. If Blizzard had ended the DotA mods before they built up momentum, we wouldn’t even have games like League of Legends.
Do you currently play any StarCraft 2 mods? How likely do you think it is it that Titan is a codename for World of StarCraft?
Blizzard is hard at work on a number of projects, with StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm at the top of the list. Sadly, the expansion will have to do until an MMO becomes more than rumor, and should be available sometime in 2011.