Blizzard's generally not so big on the whole talking thing, but the past 24 hours have given everyone an uncommonly good look at the powerhouse developer from all angles. The good news? Diablo III's almost kind of sort of but not quite here. And the bad? Try a no-holds-barred legal cage match with Valve over a name Blizzard's community – and certainly not Blizzard – invented.
So right, good news first. During Activision's Q4 financial call, Diablo III got pegged with a Q2 2012 launch – placing its no-longer-randomized drop date between April 1 and June 30. Blizzard's also expecting one more biggie to make its craterous impact this year, though it hasn't specified whether that means Heart of the Swarm's swarming gamers' hearts or WoW: Mist of Pandaria's doing... panda things.
Now then, onto the ugly business. The short version: Blizzard's suing Valve. Here's why:
“Valve has never used the mark DOTA in connection with any product or service that currently is available to the public,” reads Blizzard's statement on the matter. “By attempting to register the mark DOTA, Valve seeks to appropriate the more than seven years of goodwill that Blizzard has developed in the mark DOTA and in its Warcraft III computer game and take for itself a name that has come to signify the product of years of time and energy expended by Blizzard and by fans of Warcraft III.”
Blizzard also notes that the whole “Ancients” part of Defense of the Ancients is a reference to Warcraft lore, which – admittedly – gives it something of a strong case. But it'd be silly to not consider the business side to Blizzard's litigation barrage. Valve's team of immortal fun wizards is hard at work on DOTA 2, and Blizzard's got, er, Blizzard DOTA on the way. Regardless, watching excellent developers circle and nip at each others' throats like this is never fun – especially when it threatens to stunt the growth of a young genre that's just now finding its footing.