Blizzard posts Machinima rules!

This is fantastic news: Blizzard have posted their own set of Machinima rules, which are arguably even clearer and allow more than Microsoft’s first draft of their rules.

Key points:

  • Their “offensive content” clause is pretty clear: keep it within the T for Teen ESRB rating of WoW. That’s a clear guideline that’s easy to work within.

  • They don’t allow commercial work, but there are exemptions for sponsorship. This is very cool - it’s clear that Blizz’s primary concern is to make sure as many people can see WoW Machinima as possible, and it’s very cool they’re allowing some revenue opportunities within that. The wording here also might imply that RvB style “premium memberships” or selling DVDs is permitted provided that your production is still available to view for free - I’m not at all sure about that, so I’m going to try to get some clarification and report back. I initially misread this clause - don’t take this one to the bank yet.

  • There are no fanfic or sound usage limitations. Woo!

  • They’ve got a direct contact address for any Machinima-related questions: [email protected]

There are a few downsides:

  • The “offensive content” clause is clearer than MS’s, but it’s also more limiting. The ESRB’s Teen rating allows “violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.” That’s fairly broad, but it’s clear that you couldn’t make Red vs Blue comply with those rules, for example. MS’s rules are less clear - meaning you can be less sure if you’re in trouble - but they also allow more latitude, as MS have said they’ll be making decisions based on quality, not just content.

  • Blizz request that you seek approval from them before you enter your film into contests and film festivals - this is the only “oh, dear” prohibition for me. Personally, I think that this clause might get changed pretty soon: for example, if I was publicising a Machinima film, I’d be requesting 25 or more of these a month (for film festival entries). Add a few more serious filmmakers into the mix, and you’re talking about having to hire someone full-time just to deal with Machinima.

  • No mention of a commercial license. Blizzard don’t mention any possibility for commercial licenses for WoW Machinima (except in a clause saying “you can’t sell your work without written permission from Blizzard”). That doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t any (and I’ll be looking into that) but initially I don’t get the impression of openness to commercial ventures that the MS license gave.

Overall, this is great news, and it’s great to see Blizzard taking steps to support the Machinima community around World of Warcraft.

And on a personal note - let’s just say this couldn’t have happened at a better time.

(Thanks to Brandon “Oxhorn” Dennis and Bilius at Shattered Keyboard for the tip on this! There’s also some discussion of these rules going on over at WoWInsider.)