By Kim Tong-hyung
Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of the StarCraft computer game that is immensely popular here, is threatening legal action against Korean cable television firms to stop them from using the title in professional game competitions broadcast by them.
The U.S.-based games giant, which boasts an impressive lineup of strategy games that also includes the World of Warcraft series, has been engaged in an escalating dispute with the cable channels and the Korean e-Sports Players Association (KeSPA) over the broadcasting rights of StarCraft-related tournaments.
After months of negotiations, Blizzard cut ties with KeSPA, the country’s leading electronic sports (e-sports) provider, in May and instead signed a partnership with online video firm Gretech-GomTV, which was granted exclusive rights to operate and broadcast StarCraft tournaments and also negotiate deals with cable television networks.
Although Blizzard had allowed MBC Game and OnGameNet to broadcast KeSPA-arranged StarCraft leagues until August, which marked the end of the previous season, the cable channels have recently started broadcasting new StarCraft games with KeSPA insisting on continuing on with a new season.
Blizzard wants to be paid more for its intellectual property, which it claims hadn’t been properly respected over the years, while KeSPA claims that the company is asking too much. Gretech-GomTV has currently been offering cable television firms 12-month contracts that demand broadcasting fees of 100 million won ($89,000) per league. The cable firms have been operating about three StarCraft leagues per year in both individual and team competition.
Recently at Blizzard’s annual fan convention, BlizzCon, the company’s chief operating officer Paul Sams told Korean journalists that a lawsuit is being prepared against MBC Game, which had been continuing to broadcast StarCraft games despite receiving a warning from the company not to. Legal action is also being readied against OnGameNet and KeSPA, he said.
StarCraft is a military science-fiction game that has permanently reshaped Korean leisure habits and spawned a massive market for computer gaming since its debut in 1998. Blizzard sold more than 5 million copies of the first StarCraft game in Korea alone, which accounted for half of its global sales, and is currently enjoying a bright start to the sequel StarCraft II that was released this summer.
StarCraft is also credited for the emergence of e-sports here, hooking millions of television viewers to watch professional players battling in packed arenas.
This has led to a lucrative partnership between Blizzard and KeSPA, but the relationship has been deteriorating since 2007, when KeSPA sold the broadcasting rights to local broadcasters without the consent of Blizzard.
스타크래프트 지재권 분쟁 법정가나
한국에서 대단한 인기를 누리고 있는 스타크래프트의 개발사이자 배급사인 블리자드 엔터테인먼트가 지적재산권 분쟁에도 불구하고 스타크래프트 리그 중계를 강행해온 국내 케이블TV채널들을 상대로 소송을 제기할 움직임이다.
스트크래프트와 워크래프트 등 멀티플레이어 전략 시뮬레이션 게임에 강세를 보여 블리자드는 그 동안 스타크래프트 대회 개최 및 중계를 두고 케이블 TV채널들과 한국e스포츠협회 (KeSPA)와 갈등을 빚어왔다.
스타크래프트 독점 중계권을 확보하고 있는 그래텍-곰TV는 스타크래프트 리그와 관련해 토너먼트 방송 중계료 1억 원, 계약기간 12개월 등의 협상 조건을 제시한 바 있다.