Blizzard Entertainment was founded by Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham and Frank Pearce as Silicon & Synapse in February of 1991, a year after  all three had received their bachelor's degrees from UCLA. In the early days the company focused on creating game ports for other studios. Ports include titles such as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I and Battle Chess II: Chinese Chess. In 1993, the company developed games like Rock N' Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings (published by Interplay Productions). In 1994, the company briefly changed its name to Chaos Studios, before finally settling on Blizzard Entertainment after it was discovered that another company with the Chaos name already existed. That same year, they were acquired by distributor Davidson & Associates for under $10 million. Shortly thereafter, Blizzard shipped their breakthrough hit Warcraft: Orcs and Humans.
Blizzard has changed hands several times since then: Davidson was acquired along with Sierra On-line by a company called CUC International in 1996; CUC then merged with a hotel, real-estate, and car-rental franchiser called HFS Corporation to form Cendant in 1997. In 1998 it became apparent that CUC had engaged in accounting fraud for years before the merger; Cendant's stock lost 80% of its value over the next six months in the ensuing widely discussed accounting scandal. The company sold its consumer software operations, Sierra On-line which included Blizzard, to French publisher Havas in 1998, the same year Havas was purchased by Vivendi. Blizzard is now part of the Vivendi Games group of Vivendi.
In 1996, Blizzard acquired Condor Games, which had been working on the game Diablo for Blizzard at the time. Condor was renamed Blizzard North, and has since developed hit games Diablo, Diablo II, and its expansion pack Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Blizzard North was located in San Mateo, California.
Blizzard launched their online gaming service Battle.net in January of 1997 with the release of their action-RPG Diablo. In 2002, Blizzard was able to reacquire rights for three of its earlier Silicon & Synapse titles from Interplay Entertainment and re-release them under Game Boy Advance. In 2004, Blizzard opened European offices in the Paris suburb of Vélizy, Yvelines, France, responsible for the European in-game support of World of Warcraft. On November 23, 2004, Blizzard released World of Warcraft, its MMORPG offering. On May 16, 2005, Blizzard announced the acquisition of Swingin' Ape Studios, a console game developer which had been developing StarCraft: Ghost. The company was then merged into Blizzards other teams after StarCraft: Ghost was 'postponed indefinitely'. On August 1, 2005, Blizzard announced the consolidation of Blizzard North into the headquarters at UC Irvine's University Research Park in Irvine, California.
- Further information: List of games by Blizzard Entertainment
- StarCraft II has been officially announced as of May 19, 2007, at the World Wide Invitational in Seoul, South Korea.
- World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King has been officially announced as of August 3, 2007, at Blizzcon 2007 in Anaheim, California, United States.
- Warcraft film - Movie based on the popular Warcraft series.
Notable unreleased titles include Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, which was cancelled on May 22, 1998, Shattered Nations, and StarCraft: Ghost, which was "indefinitely postponed" on March 24, 2006 after being in development hell for much of its lifespan, and whose current status is in question. The company also has a history of missing release dates.
Pax Imperia II was originally announced as a title to be published by Blizzard. Blizzard eventually dropped Pax Imperia II, though, when it decided it might be in conflict with their other space strategy project, the now-legendary StarCraft. THQ eventually contracted with Heliotrope and released the game in 1997 as Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain.
Over the years, some former Blizzard employees have moved on and established gaming companies of their own:
- Flagship Studios, creators of Hellgate: London, currently working on Mythos.
- ArenaNet, creators of the Guild Wars franchise.
- Ready at Dawn Studios, creators of Daxter, currently developing God of War: Chains of Olympus and an Okami port for the Wii.
- Red 5 Studios, currently working on a yet to be announced next-gen MMOG.
- Castaway Entertainment, currently working on a yet to be announced next-gen title.
- Click Entertainment, creators of Throne of Darkness.
- Carbine Studios, currently working on a yet to be announced massively multiplayer title.
Activision Blizzard Merge
|“|| We're pleased to announce that along with the other companies that make up Vivendi Games, we are merging with Activision to form a new global entertainment organization called Activision Blizzard (pending shareholder and regulatory approval). Similar to our previous arrangement, Blizzard Entertainment will now operate as a division of this new organization.|
There will be no changes to our games, our websites, our personnel, or our day-to-day operations as a result of the deal. However, this combining of resources will benefit all of the companies involved and will further strengthen Blizzard's ability to continue delivering high-quality content for our players around the world for many years to come. To learn more about this exciting new development, please read our Activision Blizzard FAQ.
- Main article: Battle.net
Battle.net is an online gaming service used for its games Diablo, Starcraft, Starcraft: Brood War, Diablo II, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Warcraft II: Battle.net Edition, Warcraft III, and Warcraft III Expansion Set: The Frozen Throne. It was released in January 1997 coinciding with the release of Diablo. It functions as a way to play over the Internet, featuring cooperative and player-versus-player game playing, a game matchmaking system, and online chat among other features. Battle.net is free, and only requires an Internet connection and account registration in order to use.
A group of gamers reverse engineered the network protocol used by Battle.net and Blizzard games, and released a free (under the GNU GPL) Battle.net emulation package called bnetd. With bnetd, a gamer is not required to use the official Battle.net servers to play Blizzard games.
In February of 2002, lawyers retained by Blizzard threatened legal action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act against the developers of bnetd. Blizzard games are designed to operate online exclusively with a set of Blizzard-controlled servers collectively known as "Battle.net". Battle.net servers include a CD key check as a means of preventing software piracy.
- Main article: Warden (software)
The Warden client scans the process names, window titles, and a small portion of the code segment of running processes in order to determine whether any of these third-party programs are running. This determination is made by hashing the scanned strings and comparing the hashed value to a list of hashes known to correspond to cheat programs.  The Warden scans all processes running on a computer, not just the World of Warcraft game, and could possibly run across what would be considered private information and other personally identifiable information. It is because of these peripheral scans that Warden has been accused of being spyware and has run afoul of controversy among privacy advocates.   
The Warden's reliability in correctly discerning legitimate vs illegitimate actions has been called into question due to actions Blizzard has taken regarding the information gathered by Warden. Most notably, that it appears that many players are reported as violating the EULA/TOS by the program, and subsequently banned, when in fact they are not cheating. A large scale incident happened when many Linux users were banned after an update to Warden caused it to incorrectly detect Cedega as a cheat program.  Blizzard issued a statement claiming they had correctly identified and restored all accounts and credited them with 20 days play.  Blizzard has regularly stated that the Warden sends no information, only a violation flag, to the home server. However, without specific information, having been sent by the Warden software initially, it would have been impossible for Blizzard to discern Cedega users from actual violators. 
The Warden is not the first time Blizzard Entertainment has attempted to look at their customer's computers. In 1998 Blizzard Entertainment had a class action lawsuit filed against them for "unlawful business practices" for the action of collecting data from a user's computer without their permission.
What Warden does has not yet been proved, the only known fact is that it scans the players' computer for illegal/bannable running clients. 
- Main article: Stratagus
On June 20, 2003, Blizzard issued a cease and desist letter to the developers of an open source clone of the Warcraft engine called FreeCraft, claiming trademark infringement. This hobby project had the same gameplay and characters as Warcraft II, but came with different graphics and music. It was written from scratch and no Blizzard code was used.
As well as a similar name, FreeCraft enabled gamers to use Warcraft II graphics, provided they had the Warcraft II CD. The programmers of the clone shut down their site without challenge. Soon after that the developers regrouped to continue the work by the name of Stratagus.
- ↑ Company Profile
- ↑ Template:Cite press release
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 M. Abraham (2006-11-06). UCLA Engineering Celebrates Accomplishments at Annual Awards Dinner. UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. Archived from the original on 2007-12-22.
- ↑ Blizzard Entertainment 10th Anniversary Celebration. Blizzard Entertainment.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Blizzard Timeline. Blizzard Entertainment.
- ↑ Ported by Blizzard Entertainment Inc.. Mobygames.
- ↑ Template:Cite interview
- ↑ Blizzard North: Condor and Diablo. Blizzard Entertainment.
- ↑ Gamasutra: Blizzard Interview. Gamasutra.
- ↑ Blizzard confirms new MMO underway. gamesindustry.biz.
- ↑ GamePro Staff. "GamePro Q&A: Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan on The Burning Crusade", GamePro, 2006-08-29. Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
- ↑ Blizzard Entertainment - Press Release (2006-05-09). Retrieved on 2006-08-31.
- ↑ About Flagship Studios
- ↑ ArenaNet
- ↑ About Ready At Dawn Studios
- ↑ Red 5 Studios
- ↑ About Castaway Entertainment
- ↑ Click Entertainment
- ↑ Carbine Studios
- ↑ Blizzard Entertainment - Press Release
- ↑ Blizzard Entertainment - Press Release
- ↑ http://www.rootkit.com/blog.php?newsid=358
- ↑ WoW's Warden stirs controversy - news - play™
- ↑ Definitions and Supporting Documents
- ↑ Look! what is Blizzard doing on your pc? - MMOsite News Center
- ↑ Linux Users Banned From World of Warcraft? | Linuxlookup
- ↑ Blizzard Unbans Linux World of Warcraft Players | Linuxlookup
- ↑ http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.aspx?fn=blizzard-archive&t=33&p=1&tmp=1#post33
- ↑ Errata: Blizzard Entertainment
- ↑ The Linux Game Tome: FreeCraft
- ↑ Stratagus | Home
Company & Corporate
The Bnetd case
- Blizzard's official statement on battle.net emulators
- A rebuttal to Blizzard's official emulation statement
- Yale LawMeme's analysis of the case
- EFF page on case