Last month, Reddit user Khemist49 made a truly unlikely find: a gold master source code disc of the original StarCraft. From 1998. At first, he didn’t know what to do with it. Ultimately, he sent it to Blizzard, who was very grateful to have it back. Khemist49 first came across the disc in a “box of Blizzard stuff” he purchased on eBay. He was shocked at what he saw: a CD-R that read “StarCraft Gold Master Source Code.”
Source code is a game’s underlying programming before it’s ever compiled and released. It’s often proprietary and is rarely made available to the public for fear of revealing company secrets. When Khemist49 first posted about StarCraft’s on Reddit, some people asked him to rip its contents and make them freely available, while others derided him as “scummy” for not doing so if he planned to try and make money off it. He wrote that the decision over what to do with it was driving him “crazy.”
After days of deliberation, Khemist49 said he heard from Blizzard directly. He said the publisher’s legal team had asked him to return the disc because it contained “intellectual property and trade secrets.” He sought legal advice about what to do, but ultimately decided to err on the side of caution and send it to Blizzard. For his troubles, he received a copy of Overwatch and $250 in Blizzard store credit. Cool. He figured that was the end of it.
But in an elated post last night, Khemist49 said that he received a phone call from a Blizzard employee. “He asked me if I have ever heard of BlizzCon,” wrote Khemist49. “I said well, yeah of course but it’s impossible for me to go. I live in the east coast, and the badges are always sold out before you can refresh the page. He said well, the reason we are calling you is to invite you to BlizzCon, all expenses paid, and we would love to take you out for drinks.”
Speaking to Kotaku by email, Blizzard confirmed Khemist49’s story, saying the company “wanted to show an appropriate level of appreciation to the player for doing the right thing, not just from Blizzard, but on behalf of the large and active community of players who still enjoy StarCraft today.”
Moral of the story: If you find something you think somebody has lost or had taken from them, return it. Especially if you can verify that it belongs to Blizzard Entertainment.