Blizzard Issues Cease and Desist Letters to Modders Citing Security Concerns
reported by Kotaku
, Blizzard has issued cease and desist letters to two Diablo 2: Resurrected modders, citing security concerns after the pair created tools capable of circumventing restrictions placed on last month's Technical Alpha. Designed to bypass anti-cheat integrity checks, the tools modified the Technical Alpha's code, allowing users access to unavailable classes, the ability to play the game offline without an invite, continue playing after the end of the testing period, and even setup multiplayer servers.
“We acknowledge that a big part of Diablo II’s longevity is the modding community and we appreciate their enthusiasm for the game,” a Blizzard rep told Kotaku via email. “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.”
The modding adventure began when Belgian programmer Ferib Hellscream decided to
invite himself to the Diablo II: Resurrected Closed Alpha
, learning of a way to download the game without a Technical Alpha pass, and then modifying a previous cheat he'd written for World of Warcraft in order to play Diablo II offline after the test period ended. From there, he tested a series of patches bypassing the game's security checks, eventually unlocking multiplayer, creating his own server emulator to allow multiplayer games to continue without the host, and even setting up backward compatibility with the original Diablo II! While no doubt spectacular achievements, they very clearly circumvented important security and authentication features in a way which was never intended.
This wasn't the end however, as the tool quickly spread throughout the internet, leading others to experiment and create their own patches. Shalzuth soon released D2RModding, which unlocked classes not available for testing and opened Diablo II: Resurrected for further modification. As a result of the cease and desist, Ferib and Shalzuth have both taken down their projects, as well as YouTube videos showcasing the tools, although many videos showcasing the modifications still remain available from secondary sources.
It is worth noting that Blizzard does not appear intent on stopping modding as a whole. Several large scale Diablo 2 mods such as
Path Of Diablo
have existed for decades without issue, and Blizzard has stated that they wish to support modding of D2:R, although to what extent remains to be seen. During this year's BlizzConline, lead producer Chris Lena stated that some choices had to be made in how Resurrected would support modding work - “There have been mods in the past that injected code straight into the game, and those are the kind of things that we cannot support,” he said. “But all the other mods – you know, the ones that use data and that sort of thing – we love to see those.” Either way, it's been made clear that Blizzard will not condone manipulations of the game's authentication and anti-cheat features, particularly those which allow early access to unreleased features or access to the game without purchasing it.
“I understand that any big corporation would do that, to help keep them protected,” Shalzuth told Kotaku. “At this point, I’m not worried as long as I comply and continue to comply with what Blizzard wants,” he added.
As for whether Ferib intends to continue modding the remaster when it’s officially released later this year, he said a condition of the cease and desist was a complete termination of all development related to Activision Blizzard games. Shalzuth, on the other hand, understood he must only avoid violating Blizzard’s EULA and copyrights in the future to avoid the Eye of Baal falling on him again.
“Definitely, to the extent that Blizzard allows,” Shalzuth said when asked if he plans to mod Diablo II: Resurrected post-launch. “They are planning on real mod support in the future, and if there are gaps in their modding toolset, I do plan to fill those gaps with custom tooling for the community.”
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