The free online gaming service was created in 1996 by Blizzard Entertainment, to facilitate the growth of its own games, namely Warcraft II ( Edition), Diablo, and StarCraft. Diablo II and Warcraft III would later come to use the service.

Being a wholly closed, commercial venture, and with the complication that use of the service (after initial investment in a game that uses it) is free, teeters between balance and order often. Blizzard frequently takes, some might say draconian, action in banning game CD-keys and account names associated with game exploits, cheating, and game hack modifications.

For this and other reasons, the bnetd project, basically an emulation of, was created to allow players to use the online-play capabilities of without having to play by Blizzard's rules (since Blizzard's servers would be cut out of the picture). Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Blizzard ordered the cease- and desist-ment of the bnetd project in early 2002.

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