Blizzard Entertainment Inc. is a video game developing and publishing company based in Irvine, California. The company was founded on February 8, 1991 by three UCLA graduates, Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham, and Frank Pearce. They are most famous for creating the Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo computer game series, as well as the world famous MMORPG World of Warcraft. Blizzard entertainment has raised multiple ethical issues due to steps they have taken to protect their game products from copyright infringements, in attempts to improve gaming experience for their users, including defeating cheaters, and concerns over the extreme addictiveness of their games.
Blizzard Entertainment began as a company under the name "Silicon & Synapse" which founded in February of 1991 by Allen Adham, Michael Morhaime, and Frank Pearce, all of whom had graduated from UCLA. 
In 1994, the company was acquired by Davidson & Associates for $6.75 million, and briefly changed their name to Chaos Studios before finally establishing the name "Blizzard Entertainment"
In 1996, CUC International purchased Davidson & Associates along with Blizzard. 
In 1997, CUC International and HFS Corporation merged to form Cendant Software. However, in 1998, CUC was found to be engaging in accounting fraud for years before the merger, and Cendant stock plummeted 80% of its value. So, Cendant Software sold Blizzard to Havas, which soon was purchased by Vivendi.
In July 2008, Vivendi and Activision Publishing Inc. merge, and Blizzard becomes part of the company under the name Activision Blizzard.
Blizzard Entertainment has focused mainly on PC games throughout the lifetime of the company, though in their early years they also produced games for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis, and Gameboy Advance.  However, their first breakthrough game, Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, published in 1994, became the anchor and first of many games in the Warcraft series. Not that long after, Diablo and StarCraft were published and released in 1996 and 1998, respectively. These three games were the beginnings of the three main franchises of Blizzard Entertainment. Each three series of games have gone on to break multiple records in their respective fields. As of May 31st 2007, Starcraft and Brood War have sold over 10 million copies. The series also holds four Guinness World Records in the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition of 2008.
- Main Article: World of Warcraft
Beginning with Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, the Warcraft series has grown to include three games and three expansion packs:
|1994||Warcraft: Orcs and Humans|
|1995||Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness|
|1996||Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal*|
|1999||Warcraft II: Battle.net Edition*|
|2002||Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos|
|2003||Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne*|
|2004||World of Warcraft|
|2007||World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade*|
|2008||World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King*|
|2010||World of Warcraft: Cataclysm*|
|2012||World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria*|
|2014||World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor*|
|2015||World of Warcraft: Legion (Announced)*|
* denotes game that was released as an expansion pack
The original six games in the Warcraft series are real-time strategy (RTS) games, in which the user collects resources, creates a base, and controls an army. RTS games rely more on strategy and teamwork than most other types of video games. Warcraft originally began with two races, Orcs and Humans, however in Warcraft III, they introduced two more races, Night Elf and the Undead. Since then, they have included an even wider variety of race choices in their expansions including Panderen, Worgen, Goblin, Draeni, Blood Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, Tauren, and Troll. The series changed genres, becoming Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games starting with World of Warcraft.
Defense of the Ancients
Also in Warcraft III, another type of map was introduced. Commonly named DotA, the Defense of the Ancients is a custom map for Warcraft III. There are two teams of usually five players with 11 towers, 6 barracks (spawning creeps), and 3 lanes on each side. The aim of this game is to destroy the heavily guarded structure in the middle of your opponents base. Instead of the normal controls in an RTS, this specific game is a role-playing game in that the user controls a hero. By leveling up this hero and killing creeps to gain gold, the user and his teammates go head to head with the users of the opposite team. This map is extremely popular and has heavily influenced several new games. Examples of these games include the League of Legends (LoL), Demigod, and Heroes of Newerth. In fact, for LoL, it has been called a "DotA clone" because it is so similar to DotA.
There is also a song from DJ Basshunter that is about playing DotA.
Diablo was created by Blizzard North, a specific division of Blizzard Entertainment, released in 1996. It has grown to include three games with a fourth title expected to release soon.
|2001||Diablo II: Lord of Destruction*|
* denotes game that was released as an expansion pack
The Diablo series differs from the StarCraft and Warcraft series as it is a role-playing game, also known as an RPG. RPGs allow the user to control a specific character and make decisions regarding the character's actions throughout the length of a given story or adventure. Diablo is a dark fantasy-themed game in which the player must attempt to rid the world of many evil creatures, including Diablo, the Lord of Terror.
There has been controversy surrounding the auction house feature of Diablo III. This feature allows players to buy and sell items in one centralized location. The controversy comes from the ability to buy and sell items with real world currencies in addition to the in-game currency. This has been controversial because, in Blizzard's past games, they have generally been against the trade of in-game items or currency for real world currency.
In addition to the Diablo III controversy, there has been significant controversy and fan disappointment in their newest installment of the Diablo series, Diablo Immortal. Diablo Immortal takes place immediately after Diablo III, however, Diablo Immortal is a Mobile game. This greatly upset fans of the series, who were more traditional gamers (Console/PC), and caused for lots of backlash from fans through social media. This controversy began at Blizzcon 2018, Blizzards own festival, when the game was announced. Fans asking questions to one of the Diablo Immortal developers can be seen asking if the release was a joke or not 
The original StarCraft game was released in 1998 with an expansion pack that came out later in the same year. The StarCraft series has expanded to two total games with one expansion pack. Two more expansion packs for Starcraft II are in the making:
|1998||StarCraft: Brood War*|
|2010||StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty|
|2013**||StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm|
|2015**||StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void|
* denotes game that was released as an expansion pack
** denotes expected release date
The StarCraft series is also composed of real-time strategy games, having many similarities to the Warcraft series. There are three major races in StarCraft: Protoss, Terran, and Zerg. Much of Starcraft's success come from the many units that each race possesses and the ability for each race to be able to counter others with certain unit combinations and strategy.
Overwatch is Blizzard Entertainment's most recent game, released on May 24, 2016. Overwatch is the first game created by Blizzard to be in a first person perspective. Players choose from 26 characters to play. Overwatch is the first game that Blizzard Entertainment has continuously released content for free. Since the games release, Blizzard has pushed out five new characters, and three additional maps. In the past, Blizzard has taken a more traditional strategy on releasing new content under paid expansion packs.
On November 2017, Blizzard announced The Overwatch league , an esports league with twelve teams from cities around the world. Notable team owners include owners of traditional sports teams such as The Denver Nuggets and The New England Patriots. . There are more than 100 players in The Overwatch League, with only one female player who joined in February 2018.
Legacy games are older games produced by Blizzard Entertainment, most of which were produced in the early to mid-1990's, and vary widely in genre and platform.  "Legacy Games" is the title Blizzard uses on their website for their older games.
|1992||The Lost Vikings||Puzzle Platformer||SNES, Genesis, GBA, PC, Amiga|
|1993||Rock N' Roll Racing||Combat Racing||SNES, Genesis, GBA|
|1994||Warcraft: Orcs & Humans||Real-Time Strategy||PC, Mac|
|1994||Blackthorne||Platformer||SNES, PC, Sega 32X, Mac, GBA|
|1995||Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness||Real-Time Strategy||PC, Mac|
|1996||Diablo||Action RPG||PC, Mac|
Blizzard Entertainment deployed Battle.net, their online gaming platform, in November 1996 at the same time that they released Diablo. Since then, Battle.net has grown to be a very popular service due to its user-friendly interface, free cost of use, and cross-game support. The cross-game support that Battle.net provided allowed a user playing Diablo on Battle.net to communicate with a different user playing either StarCraft or Warcraft on Battle.net. For the games that have incorporated Battle.net, Blizzard has divided the world into four "realms" or sections: US West, US East, Europe, and Asia. This division of realms helps reduce latency experienced by players, allowing users to choose the realm which is closest to their location.
In March 2009, Blizzard decided to revamp Battle.net and released a new version of Battle.net, commonly known as Battle.net 2.0. The new Battle.net included many new features, the main ones being combining multiple Battle.net accounts into one joint account, creating a better matchmaking system, and allowing users to form groups with a completely new chat system. About a year after Battle.net 2.0 was released, Blizzard teamed up with Facebook to include Facebook account integration, allowing users to keep in touch and find each other with more ease.
When Blizzard released Battle.net 2.0, many players were not pleased with the changes that were made. The change that upset users the most was the termination of the chat rooms that had stayed loyal to Battle.net users since its original release. The old style chat rooms were simple, yet very user-friendly while the new Battle.net did not include chat room integration until much further down the road. In addition to the lack of chat rooms, Battle.net 2.0 also removed clan support, which was introduced and became very popular in the Warcraft III games.
On July 6, 2010, Blizzard Entertainment announced that they planned to change the way users post on Battle.net forums. Instead of using a username, all users who post on the forum will be identified by their real name. This feature was introduced as part of the "Real ID" product. Blizzard said that the intention of this change was to reduce the number of flame wars that occurred on their forums. Some industry watchers praised this move as a way to cut down on often harmful and hateful flame wars. Others derided the loss of anonymity that could result in identity theft and real life harassment. Due to the overwhelmingly negative response received by Blizzard, it later announced that it would redact its original announcement and that users would be able to continue posting on forums using their usernames.
Since March of 2017, Blizzard has since decided to move away from their Battle.net brand, and continue with their Blizzard brand instead. Their launcher, once called the Battle.net launcher, has been renamed to the Blizzard app. Battle.net as a website is still active, and it is unclear whether or not Blizzard plans to rebrand that website, too.
With the introduction of Diablo III, all new and already active Battle.net accounts received integration with Blizzard's Online Store using Battle.net Balance.  Items in the store can be purchased with Battle.net Balance. Additionally, because of Diablo III's real-money action house, players can sync this balance with their PayPal account to directly purchase items or to deposit funds received in the game. 
- See also: Ethics in Computer & Video Games
From a utilitarian aspect, meaning to the extent people are satisfied or disappointed in their games, there are few ethical issues. If users are overall happy about their experience, the games may be deemed beneficial to society to an extent.
From a moral standard, as in treating others the way you would like to be treated, an online environment is sometimes taken advantage of. Whenever anonymity is available, certain people take advantage of being able to disregard the consequences of their actions in such games that may be provided by Blizzard. For example, if a user's motive in World of Warcraft is to destroy other characters, one might question if that person would take responsibility for this action. When a player does something that is immoral in a gaming environment, one also might question if that are willing to take responsibility for their online action in real life. With anonymity also comes people who are always trying to cheat the system and other users by way of hacking and scamming.
For example, Blizzard's modification of their online gaming platform, Battle.net, disrupted healthy and developed online communities when they removed the chat room feature and increased the risk of Cyberstalking by forcing users to input sensitive information visible to everyone, such as their real name, home address, phone number, and email to connect their Battle.net account to specific games. Although this method decreased the number of accounts used to Troll in ranked online matches and custom games, many users were displeased that Blizzard took steps to reveal more private user information before consulting the user base.
Aside from the transparency of their customers' information, Battle.net hosts a multitude of "custom games" that are hosted on their server. Although this community is producing lots of quality games and content, some users like to host "fake games" that instead have pictures of pornography and other shock pictures to display where the map preview usually is in the custom game browsing window. Currently, there is no filter to prevent the hosting of these types of games. A large ethical consequence of this is harm to children who play these games.
In the custom chat rooms provided by Battle.net, users can create "bot accounts" that can host a multitude of activities such as trivia games, send mass messages to join games, and even moderate the chat room. When moderating a chat room, the bot can be set to filter specific words up to a certain threshold before warning, booting, and even banning a user from a chat room. This autonomously moderated activity could consider the bot a "moral agent" and depend on the context of the word usage, could provide ethical dilemmas for the bot programmers. For instance, if the trivia game was to ask questions that needed word answers that matched those in which a bot would use to boot a user, then the bot would automatically kick a user out despite it being part of the game.
Blizzard uses BitTorrent to distribute a large portion of their software, including the data for Diablo III, World of Warcraft, and Starcraft II. Therefore, many of the ethical issues raised by peer-to-peer sharing and BitTorrent are also applicable to the ethical issues of Blizzard.
Addiction and Death
Blizzard entertainment and other similar video game production and development companies have dealt with much ethical uncertainty and responsibility through the content in which their products produce. Most of their games that have been released in the last decade hinge on being connected online in order to play. Examples are World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, and Diablo III. Due to the game play style and constant online activity; many reviews deem these games as highly addictive. Personal responsibility of gamer habits has to be considered in discussing the ethical responsibility of the game creator and the marathon sessions of “addictive” game play. There have been many gamer deaths while playing various Blizzard video games. Mostly, the deaths occur from extreme amounts of exhaustion that cause heart failure through the marathon playing with very little sleep and poor nutrition. This brings up the question "Should Blizzard be responsible? and if so, how much responsibility should they have over preventing gamer deaths?"
In July 2012, two people died due to the excessive game play of the newly released Diablo III. An 18-year-old collapsed at an Internet Café and eventually died after a 40-hour binge of gameplay. The death of a second victim, a 32-year-old gamer, was attributed to the three-day Diablo III marathon, which he was on. Blizzard released a statement to The Mirror after the deaths: “While we recognize that it's ultimately up to each individual or their parent or guardian to determine playing habits, we feel that moderation is clearly important and that a person's day-to-day life should take precedence over any form of entertainment.”
In South Korea, a 28-year old experienced extreme exhaustion from playing 50 hours straight of Starcraft, which led to his death shortly afterward. “More than 15 million people, or a staggering 30% of the population, are registered for online gaming in South Korea,” stated psychologist Professor Mark Griffiths about the potential harm of online game addiction. 
The ethical conundrum that Blizzard game’s addictive effect mostly deals with trying to find the balance between corporate enforced control over gamer habits and behaviors to promote health risks and gamers’ “freedom” in playing the game. Currently, Blizzard records live data of every single user, so setting up a "safety harness" on their servers to enforce breaks for health concerns would be possible to implement. However, because there is no government legislation on such consumerism, it is left up to the company to decide how much freedom their users have. Another factor into the ethical balancing scale is the private business will cut off paying customers and how much it will impact Blizzard’s revenue if technological restrictions were incorporated.
The popular TV show South Park made a parody of World of Warcraft, titled "Make Love, Not Warcraft." In the episode, a hacker gains unprecedented power and the protagonists stop the perpetrator at the expense of their own personal health and well-being.
Overall, Blizzard owns many video games that have caused severe video game addiction among players. However, it cannot be held responsible for this as its only fault is that it makes fun games that are addicting. Ultimately, Blizzard advocates for healthy moderation of playing their video games and encourages balancing other activities in players' lifestyles.