Blizzard Entertainment's sci-fi real-time strategy game Starcraft might be well over 10 years old at this point, but its popularity has only flourished in South Korea. The game is so popular there, in fact, that Blizzard opted to announce the game's long-awaited follow-up in Seoul, as part of its Worldwide Invitational tournament held there in 2007. However, with Starcraft II due for release in the next few months, Blizzard will be ending tournament broadcast negotiations with the Korean e-Sports Players Association.
Speaking to South Korea's Yonhap News and translated by a member of Starcraft-enthusiast site TeamLiquid.net, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime stated that it will end its relationship with the popular tournament league. According to the report, Blizzard has taken exception to KeSPA's handling of the Starcraft property rights.
"We've been negotiating with the association about intellectual property rights for the last three years, and we've made no progress at all," he reportedly said. "We're going to stop negotiating with them and look for a new partner...Blizzard obviously has the IP rights to the Starcraft series, but those rights aren't being respected, and we can't keep having these fruitless negotiations with the release of Starcraft II at hand."
Yonhap did not delve into the specifics of the disagreement between Blizzard and KeSPA. However, speaking to GameSpot, a Blizzard representative emphasized that the company at no point had an official relationship with KeSPA. The rep noted that the organization was operating leagues and selling broadcast and distribution rights without direction or input from Blizzard.
Following the breakdown of negations, the developer now intends to find a more receptive e-sports partner for the franchise. The Blizzard rep went on to note that the focus of its new partnership in e-sports for Korea will be Starcraft II, and not the original game.