A couple weeks ago Blizzard introduced a change to their End User License Agreement (EULA) that prohibits gamers from playing Blizzard games on cloud gaming PCs. As of two days ago, they started handing down 30 day account suspensions for violating this term of the EULA. With the new WoW expansion coming out, please heed this warning and don’t play WoW on a cloud computer — we don’t want you to miss out on that or have your account banned.
To be 100% clear: Parsec is used for many things. One of them is cloud gaming. This Blizzard EULA change ONLY applies to virtual PCs running on cloud providers. It does not impact streaming from YOUR PC.
Why Is Blizzard Doing This?
For starters, we aren’t in contact with Blizzard, although we’re trying to reach them. Blizzard is well known for its dedication to the quality of their games. When you play one of their games, you can feel how hard the developers, artists, designers, and storytellers work to deliver the best experience possible. The Blizzard team is not only trying to protect their IP, but also protect the experience you have while playing their games. About a year ago we had a quick interaction with Blizzard, and they didn’t think Overwatch players would want to use cloud gaming because it would reduce the quality of the experience too much. We hope our users would disagree, but that’s emblematic of the Blizzard stance — protect gameplay quality no matter what. We initially thought that this was the reason they added a few lines prohibiting cloud gaming in the EULA (below). With those lines, they could tell people that they couldn’t support them if there was an issue with their cloud gaming experience.
Cloud Computing: Use the Platform, including a Game, in connection with any unauthorized third-party “cloud computing” services, “cloud gaming” services, or any software or service designed to enable the unauthorized streaming or transmission of Game content from a third-party server to any device.
Unfortunately, it turned out that they were more serious about blocking cloud PCs than we expected. Despite their own team saying cloud gaming wouldn’t be an issue, Blizzard is officially taking a different stance. This may all be coming down to protecting their IP and putting the onus on cloud companies to register the cloud gaming products to ensure that their IP is safe. Of course with Parsec, we don’t install games on your cloud gaming PC for this very reason. We do not have a license to do so. It would be a violation of the Terms for almost every game out there if we were to pre-load machines with games.
Why Does Parsec Think This Is A Mistake?
We believe that Blizzard is making a mistake. There are a lot of people in the world who cannot afford a new gaming PC or a GPU, but they want to play their favorite Blizzard games. These people deserve the freedom to play their favorite games on any hardware they own wherever they are. If they’re choosing to do this, why is it a problem for Blizzard?
The quote below is emblematic of this type of gamer. Jonathan wrote this about his experience with cloud gaming and WoW in his support request to the Blizzard Team:
Hi, I just wanted to write about the recent chances to the EULA. With specifics cloud gaming. I am a new dad with a 5 month old baby. My gaming time is very limited normally after the little one goes to bed for an hour at most. Something I cannot get to my main pc to play with max settings. And my little laptop runs graphics at level one especially for the new content. So I have been using cloud gaming on my little laptop in bed. Marvelous. The provider I use is Paperspace/Parsec and it plays WOW wonderfully. Here we go for BFA! Oh wait. No I can’t. Blizzard “may” suspend or ban my account. My day one wow account. Is there anyway you can flag my account so that I can use by cloud pc? I’d rather play BFA at 1080p 60fps on high settings not 720p 25fps on lowest settings. And for a good amount of time not 20 minutes every few days on my gaming pc (only drawback of being a dad, until I can get her farming red snapper to sell on the auction house. I hope you can understand my issue with the recent EULA. Pretty please ” -Jonathan (reprinted from Flickstiq.com)
Blizzard, Your IP Is Safe
Most cloud gaming companies today are startups. Parsec does not pre-install the games on servers. Although this makes the user experience less than awesome because people have to download the Blizzard games onto their new cloud machine, it does protect the IP of the game developer. Parsec cloud gamers must download the game from Blizzard through the same means they would if the game were installed on their PC at home. For all intents and purposes, the cloud computer IS the gamer’s computer. No data is shared between gamers. In the case of Parsec, the only thing that is shared is time on the GPU.
Of course, we understand the need and desire to protect the content that Blizzard has spent 100s of millions of dollars developing. But cloud gaming is potentially a gold mine for them. There are millions of people in the world who want to play Blizzard games but cannot access them due to the inability to buy a gaming PC. There are also a lot of people, like Jonathan, who are now just too busy to justify owning a gaming PC. These people shouldn’t be forced to build or buy one. Jonathan just wants to play the game he loves a couple hours a week. For many of Blizzard’s titles, they make revenue upfront with the gamer buying the game, and for others, if someone plays the game longer because they are playing at 60FPS in up to 4K video, they’re probably more likely to stick around and stay engaged with the game, making Blizzard more money on expansions and micro-transactions.
Cloud gaming could be great for Blizzard and lead to new revenue opportunities in the future. Let’s hope they’re open to changing their minds for the sake of gamers who are looking to have the freedom to play their favorite games anywhere on the devices of their choosing.