The Secret Deal – When two giants (don’t) go to war?

July 22, 2010 by warzan

Kotaku has an article up that most of you guys will at the very least find interesting.

In the article they show some comparisons between the main protagonists in Starcraft with those in Warhammer 40K and the obvious similarities between them.

But is this really just a case of one company owing a ‘visual debt’ to another, or is something a little more complex at play?

Facts about the relationship between Blizzard Entertainment and GamesWorkshop are not exactly easy to get (at least anything official that is), but what Kotaku didn’t explore (deeply enough) is the fact that these two giants (of their own industries) have had a very ‘interesting’ history.

The basics as far as we can tell (and we could be wrong as we have never been able to get the ‘official’ story on this) is that in the early days of GW’s licensing attempts they may have been a little more naive than they are now. Blizzard we’re working on a game using GW Intellectual Property (i.e. the visuals and fluff that we all love so much), somewhere during that process there was a falling out and Blizzard went off and made ‘some’ changes and rolled out Warcraft (we believe this was the title they were working on).

The Secret Deal

This is where things take a turn and the hearsay ramps up a little, according to some rather than just take Blizzard to the cleaners (BoW Legalese for suing them) GW for whatever reasons opted for a ‘non aggression pact’ basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Since then Warcraft has become the behemoth we see today, and come on, surely everyone can spot the resemblances ;o) And if you have a look at the Kotaku article you will see them drawing comparisons between StarCraft and Warhammer 40K.

So where does this leave us?

The above may or may not be true, most likely we will never know the whole story of what actually happened between these two companies, and all the key players have probably moved on long ago (Blizzard has changed name and been bought and sold about half a dozen times in its history), but one wonders:

a)      Could this experience explain a little why GW protects it’s IP so vigorously now (and we believe rightly so, considering that a video game like Gears of War will turn over more in its opening weekend that GW would in a year, you can see why a rich and powerful Intellectual property like that of 40K is worth protecting – yup we believe the story is worth more than the little plastic men we love so dearly.)

b)      Do the guys in Blizzard still enjoy a game of Warhammer or 40K during their lunch breaks ;o)

So what do you guys think? There is obviously some reason why these two companies have not went to war, (considering the rest of us are afraid to take a dump that looks like a space marine in case a cease and desist letter comes up the toilet!), does it mean that anyone with deep enough pockets can go and setup their own game with bulky armour-clad Galactic Marines and nasty looking Insectisaurs?

All we know is there is no such thing as coincidence!

BTW: Watch the trailer because Starcraft II is looking awesome!