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Blizzard Breaks Off Korean eSport Talks

After years of fruitless talks with the Korean e-Sports Players Association, Blizzard has left talks and is now trying to find another partner.The talks were to retain some of the intellectual property rights Blizzard is entitled to through Korea’s absolutely massive StarCraft e-Sport scene.

Korea’s Yonhap News were told about this hot topic by Blizzard. A pressing matter so close to the launch of StarCraft II.

Blizzard’s main issue here is that KeSPA has the control over StarCraft television broadcast rights. Blizzard tried to circumvent this issue by backing Gretech Corporation’s online streaming broadcaster GOM TV. It unfortunately ended with KeSPA threatening to kick pro teams from its own league if they appeared in GOM events, making almost all teams drop out of the GOM TV league.

Competitive play, especially of StarCraft is beyond ‘popular’ in South Korea, and a significant amount of money is circulating around the electronic sport (just look at these commercials, which are for the Starleague, sponsored by Korean Air). So much so, that massive betting scandals of the past several years was revealed just over two weeks ago. KeSPA and Blizzard have had tension in the past years for natural reasons as Blizzard wants to be more involved (and reap a little of its benefits) in the competition around its game, while KeSPA wants to retain sole control over the sport. KeSPA is obviously very weary of Blizzard and likely see the release of StarCraft II as a threat to KeSPA’s dominance over StarCraft gaming.

Just under two weeks ago StarCraft II received a pretty devastating 18-plus rating in South Korea. We speculated that this might also be the KeSPA trying to stop StarCraft II from becoming the new major eSport in Korea, since Blizzard would then have all the control of the game.

“We’ve been negotiating with the association about intellectual property rights for the last three years, and we’ve made no progress at all,” said Blizzard’s Mike Morhaime in the Yonhap interview.

“We’re going to stop negotiating with them and look for a new partner,” he added. “Blizzard obviously has the IP rights to the StarCraft series, but those rights aren’t being respected, and we can’t keep having these fruitless negotiations with the release of Starcraft II at hand.”

Forum goers of Team Liquid have been kind enough to translate the Korean news article.



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