I recently re-read the Eighth Circuit’s 2005 decision addressing online gaming, reverse engineering and interoperability (Davidson & Associates v. Jung, 422 F.3d 630 (8th Cir. 2005)). The case raises the usual questions regarding open- versus closed-system competition, but it adds a twist and it is that twist that I want to focus on. As usual, I will come out on the side of evil, or at least evil as most of the copyright world usually sees these things.
Blizzard produces a variety of war games, including StarCraft and WarCraft. In 1997, Blizzard created an online gaming environment, Battle.net. At Battle.net, you could test your WarCraft skills against other users. Today, this is a common move in the game industry taking what had been a freestanding product—a game DVD or CD—and turning it into a full-blown service and a multi-player environment.