Blizzard has new EULA saying you can’t own your games or sue

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Blizzard has updated its EULA and fans are angry about its emphasis on players not actually owning the things they pay for and “forced” user arbitration. 

Although fans hoped Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard would have led the once-beloved studio back to the right path, that hasn’t been the case. Overwatch 2’s cancelation of PVE, refusal to refund players who purchased heroes before Overwatch 2’s battle pass overhaul, and weakening esports division are only the tip of the iceberg.

Microsoft also laid off 1,900 employees across its gaming division, and many of those laid off were from Blizzard. At the same time, Mike Ybarra left his post as company president. 2024 has not been a year of positive PR for the Blizzard and these EULA changes aren’t turning things around.

Blizzard states that any virtual content that appears within its platforms, including games, is owned or licensed by Blizzard.

These include derivative fanmade content like recordings, gameplay, custom games, and fan art. With the new EULA, Blizzard may become even more aggressive with copyright-striking fanart, even family-friendly ones. Nintendo has also been taking similar actions, giving itself a foothold to issue copyright claims over anything related to its brands.

Overwatch 2 tracer

The company has been tightening its hold over anything even vaguely related to its games for more than a decade. Though legal action against explicit portrayals of Overwatch characters is the most visible example, these efforts date back further than the eternally controversial hero shooter.

The most likely cause for this is the boom surrounding the MOBA genre in the early 2010s. Defense of the Ancients was a custom game for World of Warcraft 3, but Blizzard never acquired the rights to it nor employed any of its key developers.

Figures behind DotA went on to develop League of Legends for Riot Games and Dota 2 for Valve, both of which stand among the most successful and lucrative PC games ever. Blizzard and Valve have had multiple legal battles over the years and given how its own MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, fizzled, it likely doesn’t want another golden goose to slip through its fingers. 

New Blizzard EULA includes forced arbitration

Another controversial update focuses on Blizzard’s “binding arbitration” which states Blizzard users in the United States must notify Blizzard before pursuing arbitration. Arbitration is a very complex topic, but its inclusion in the EULA sparked controversy.

Forced arbitration is historically a means of preemptively nixing potential class-action lawsuits, which puts the larger entity on stronger legal footing. That facet of the EULA would not hold up under European courts or in most other territories, but it still allows Blizzard to flex legal control over players.

Overall, the revised EULA is yet another notch in Blizzard’s antagonistic relationship with its fanbase. 

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen. Their work has also been seen on TheGamer, Gfinity, and Wargamer, and you can follow them on Twitter / X at @HardlyWorkinGab.

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