UPDATE 22/05/2014 8.15pm: Blizzard has issued Eurogamer the following statement about this pending litigation:
"The quality of our games is our top priority, and we will take the necessary measures, up to and including legal action, to protect our games against cheating and other negative influences."
ORIGINAL STORY 22/05/2014 2.13am: Blizzard is suing a collective of hackers for messing with - and profiting off of - Starcraft 2 via user-made mods.
The primary targets are those behind the “ValiantChaos MapHack”, a mod that gives players an unfair advantage in the game, that's been frequently sold for $62.50 a pop.
The developer accused the hackers of the "insidious and harmful practice of developing, distributing, and selling software products (sometimes referred to as 'hacks' or 'cheats') that modify or alter the online 'multiplayer' component of Blizzard's computer games to give their users an unfair competitive advantage against other players," Blizzard explained in its complaint (as discovered by Torrentfreak).
"The harm to Blizzard from Defendants' conduct is immediate, massive and irreparable," the developer added. "By distributing the Hacks to the public, Defendants irreparably harm the ability of Blizzard's legitimate customers (i.e. those who purchase and use unmodified games) to enjoy and participate in the competitive online experience of StarCraft 2."
In other words, it makes the game less fun for honest, non-cheating folks. Worse, it means less Starcraft is produced as these hackers are ruining the experience for many, resulting in fewer sales.
Blizzard noted that this practice "causes users to grow dissatisfied with the game, lose interest in the game, and communicate that dissatisfaction. This results in lost sales of the game and/or 'add-on' packs and expansions thereto, as well as harm to Blizzard's reputation [and] the value of its game."
Trolling the game or modding it so it's less fun seems like something of a legal grey area, but what's less cut and dry is that the hackers have been profiting off Blizzard's copyrighted material with such mods. "Defendants create and sell their unlawful software products with the knowledge that they are facilitating and promoting users to infringe Blizzard's copyrights, to breach their contracts with Blizzard, and to otherwise violate Blizzard's rights," the complaint stated. "Defendants have unjustly profited from their actions while causing significant damage to Blizzard."
Curiously, it's not clear how Blizzard expects to recoup its losses as the complaint stated that it doesn't actually know the true identity of those responsible. "The defendants may include individuals whose real identities are not yet known to Blizzard, but who are acting in concert with the one another, often in the guise of Internet aliases, in committing the unlawful acts alleged herein," the developer said in its complaint. This seems like a not insignificant detail.
We've reached out to Blizzard to see how it expects to recoup its losses from an anonymous source as well as how much it's seeking exactly in damages. We'll update as we hear back.