Following the technical alpha – which, I’ll note, we thought was fantastic – modders had come with with ways to do everything from unlocking classes to playing on custom servers. One programmer going by Ferib Hellscream built a tool called D2ROffline, which was initially meant to be a private tool for his friends to help them play offline on the the alpha client without an invite by skipping past Blizzard’s account and login checks. Eventually, though, the tool went open source, and then fellow modder Shalzuth opened D2RModding to facilitate modding on a broader scale.
Complications ensued. According to Hellscream and Shalzuth, Blizzard has served them with cease-and-desist letters, even sending a private investigator to one of their homes in a transparent attempt to intimidate him. Neither modder seems particularly concerned, even though one of the C&Ds demands the “complete termination of all development related to Activision Blizzard games.” (The C&D served to the US modder seemingly demanded only that he stop violating Blizzard’s user agreements.)
“We acknowledge that a big part of Diablo II’s longevity is the modding community and we appreciate their enthusiasm for the game,” the studio told Kotaku. “Classic Diablo II and its mods will continue to exist and we’re going to do our best to continue to support the mods for Diablo II: Resurrected as well. That said, some mods are atypical and pose security threats to our games. Security has always been a top priority for us and programs that could pose major security issues will not be tolerated.”
It’s natural to feel some sympathy for Blizzard here, as cheaters suck up a significant portion of developer and legal time and money, and there’s no question that as written these tools allowed exploits and piracy in the alpha. But of course, Blizzard’s interest here is also to control the flow of new content and prevent legit offline play, and there’s something disturbing about a 75-billion-dollar megacorp dispensing asymmetric legal threats to rando gamers during an alpha test for a 20-year-old game. Still, maybe wait and see how the company handles content creation and legitimate tools post-launch before shining up your pitchforks.