World Of Warcraft: Legion Release Date Revealed

Five months ago now Blizzard started taking pre-orders for the sixth World Of Warcraft expansion, Legion. The expansion pack now has a confirmed release date, with it set to release on August 30th.

The sixth expansion will follow on from the fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, with Blizzard stating that “all hellfire is about to break loose”. With the new continent, the Broken Isles, and a new class, the Demon Hunter class, players will be spoilt for choice as they wield new artifacts and encounter demon hunters, the disciples of Illidan Stormrage, a popular character in the Warcraft series.

If you can’t wait to join the action, anyone who pre-orders the expansion gets a single level 100 boost, so any new characters (or old ones) can join in on the Broken Isles action the second the game releases, while pre-orders will also get access to the Demon Hunter class before the expansion even releases!

With subscriptions for the online MMORPG falling at a staggering rate, could the new expansion be what the game needs to bring new life to the franchise or could the new movie bring in fans both old and new to the series in order to save the world?

Are you a fan of the game? Are you someone who used to play the game? Could this expansion interest you into giving the game a new go or are you more interested in the patch that Warcraft 3 will soon receive?

Blizzard Forces “Pirate” Classic WoW Server to Close

The largest “pirate” server hosting an early version of World of Warcraft that is no longer available via conventional means is being forced to close after WoW developer Blizzard Entertainment threatened the team responsible with legal action.

The server in question, Nostalrius, is running version 1.12 of World of Warcraft from 2006, before the “Burning Crusade” expansion was released. Nostalrius has 800,000 registered accounts and 150,000 active players, according to its administrators.

The existence of the private server was in violation of Blizzard’s Terms of Use for WoW, with the company adding (via Ars Technica) that it “isn’t an issue because of ‘lost’ subscription fees from players choosing these illegitimate servers over the real WoW servers—it simply boils down to the fact that private servers are illegal, and that’s that.”

The team behind the Nostalrius server has launched a petition, appealing to Blizzard to protect the ‘Vanilla’ version of WoW as a “legacy” server:

“We never saw our community as a threat for Blizzard. It sounds more like a transverse place where players can continue to enjoy old World of Warcraft’s games no longer available, maybe until a new expansion appears; a huge and powerful community of fans that remains attached to future Blizzard games, as we have in no other gaming company.

We don’t have the pretention to come up with a complete solution regarding legacy servers that you and your company didn’t already think about, but we’d be glad and honored to share it with you if you’re interested, still on a volunteer basis.”

The Nostalrius server is due to close at midnight on 10th April.

Warcraft 3 Will Also Receive a Patch Soon

It looks like Blizzard has decided to give some of its older games some much-needed attention, as the company has recently issued a new patch for the acclaimed Diablo 2 title, and that’s 16 years after its original release. The patch aimed to improve the game’s compatibility with newer operating systems such as Windows 10 in order to give gamers a better opportunity to take a trip down memory lane. However, since Blizzard has stated that other games will receive similar treatments, we can definitely expect to see the first Diablo getting patched, as well as some games from the Warcraft and Starcraft series. Actually, Warcraft 3 is going to be the next game to receive a belated patch.

Patch 1.27 for Warcraft 3 will be released worldwide on March 15, and it will come four years after version 1.26a that was released in 2011. The head of Blizzard’s classic games group, Robert Bridenbecker, was the one who announced the patch via a YouTube video, which you will be able to see below. The video was aimed at the Chinese Warcraft 3 community, and even though there are no details regarding the main changes for this outstanding game, we can safely assume that they will make it better than ever.

Diablo 2 Gets A Patch 16 Years After Release

Blizzard has many game series in their name, with the Warcraft game series soon to get its own movie. Another popular series from the company is the Diablo series, featuring angels and demons fighting it out for years and years now. Now 16 years after its original release, and a sequel, Diablo 2 gets a patch.

Diablo 2 last received a patch back in 2011, but now five years later the game gets its next update. First released in 2000, those who want to sit back and enjoy the classic game will now find it easier to play on modern systems.

The patch addresses several things but the major points are the ability to play the game on windows 7, 8 and even 10 without the need for “XP mode”. If you are more of an OSX user, the game should now also work on your system.

If you still need another reason to play it, the game now features enhanced cheat-detection and hack-prevention capabilities. In the original post, the author makes it clear that this is but the first step and that “it does not end there”.

Given the graphics update for Diablo III and now this, could the Diablo series be seeing new life soon? If you feel like trying out the game, check out the Blizzard store, where both Diablo 2 and the Lord Of Destruction expansion are only $9.99 each (£7).

Jeff Kaplan Would Do the Overwatch Beta Differently Next Time

People love their betas these days, with the ability to quickly roll out a game through the internet companies have been able to test their games across the board with people developing everything from large-scale MMO projects to your favourite racing game with a test run before its release. The problem is that with that new approach to beta’s, opinions have changed about what this means, something Overwatch’s game director Jeff Kaplan has now experienced first hand.

In the interview, Kaplan reminded us that the last time he had a game go into a public beta was the Wrath of the Lich King, the popular expansion for World of Warcraft, all the way back in 2008. Kaplan states that “I think what’s happened over the past decade is that the word beta has really changed what it means. Betas are now free public demos of nearly complete products”, something which is hard to disagree with. When you get released a beta, you expect that the game has some nice features and plays smoothly, with the next step being a full commercial release.

These comments come after people claim that the Overwatch beta was little more than a “marketing beta” with only streamers and the press granted access in order to sell the game. Kaplan’s response to these comments is that with hindsight, he would have just made to the current release an Alpha and then put it all under an NDA.

While these comments probably come from fans who weren’t given access, the feedback has been rather vocal regarding the Overwatch access, which could be in part due to the timeline fans are having to wait before they can play the game. With the closed beta starting in October 2015, and the announcement trailer first showing us the world of Overwatch back in November 2014, the game has had a long wait.

Breathtaking Images From an Astronaut Aboard the ISS

Space has always provided a glimpse into many a fascinating world over the years, from research that has been undertaken by NASA to the Astronauts who have boarded the International Space Station as well as successfully landing on the moon. One such Astronaut, Scott Kelly, has been posting breathtaking images on social media that have included Twitter (1,158 photos and counting) and Instagram (684 posts and counting) during his yearlong visit to the ISS, below is a snapshot of these images.

The first image represents the massive blizzard passing over Chicago on Saturday 23rd January 2016, the image looks awe-inspiring.

The next image below is of what is known as “thundersnow” from the blizzard and was captured, again, on the 23rd January 2016.

The next image below, wow, is of an aurora and was captured on the 27th August 2015, this looks akin to a science fiction film.

The next image below is of Spain, well, more specifically Barcelona and was captured on the 28th July 2015, this is both a stunning and a detailed image.

The next image below is the Astronauts latest Twitter post as of writing (26th January 2016) and has the caption “Day 304. That’s 4,864 orbits a’round’ our beautiful planet #Earth. #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace”, it is certainly a brilliant image.

The last image is of Scott Kelly undertaking a Q&A on Reddit from space, well, yes, as you do, this image was posted on the 23rd January 2016

Blizzard and Razer Reveal Official Overwatch Gaming Gear


If the news of the new Razer Chroma Naga Chroma 12-button MMO gaming mouse wasn’t enough for you today, then you will also be pleased to hear that Razer has joined forces with Blizzard Entertainment to release a set of officially licensed Overwatch gaming gear!

Blizzards new 6v6 first-person shooter looks set to take the competitive gaming world by storm, which means there will be demand for some equally action packed peripherals. The new range of Razer hardware comes fully equipped with the Razer Chroma RGB lighting engine, adding the ever popular BlackWidow keyboard, DeadAdder gaming mouse and the Goliathus Extended Mouse Mat, all kitted out with a kick-ass Overwatch theme.

“Overwatch is one of the most sought-after titles out there and it’s a blast to play,” says Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO. “We’re excited to bring Blizzard players, our own fans, and PC gamers everywhere the preferred FPS peripherals of eSports athletes from world-leading teams. Clad in a custom-designed theme and with in-game Chroma lighting effects created by Blizzard specifically for the keyboard and mouse, these peripherals add another layer of immersion to the Overwatch experience.”

Not only that, but the Chroma API has been tweaked too, allowing Overwatch to offer up dynamic lighting effects and changes based on the in-game action. Actions such as your heroes colour, cooldowns, Ultimate ability readiness and more can be represented directly on the peripherals lighting system.

“We’re excited to be working with Razer to bring Overwatch players and FPS fans a line of high-quality gear to take into battle,” said Matt Beecher, vice president of global consumer products at Blizzard Entertainment. “The development team has come up with some cool ways to integrate Overwatch’s gameplay with Razer’s technology, giving Blizzard gamers a whole new way to customize their experience.”

The release date isn’t known yet, but I expect it will be very soon to catch the Christmas rush. Prices are detailed below.

  • DeathAdder Chroma Overwatch: $79.99/99.99EUR
  • BlackWidow Chroma Overwatch: $179.99/219.99EUR
  • Goliathus Extended Overwatch: $34.99/42.99EUR

World of Warcraft: Legion Now Available for Pre-Order

 


This week at BlizzCon 2015, Blizzard revealed that the sixth expansion to the massively popular MMO World of Warcraft is now available for pre-order. The latest expansion, Legion, comes with cool pre-order bonuses too, allowing players to boost one character of their choosing to level 100. You’ll also get early access to the brand-new hero class coming with Legion, the Demon Hunter, prior to the expansion’s release.

World of Warcraft: Legion is filled with features and content that will transform Azeroth’s heroes into Legion-slaying avatars of vengeance, including:

  • New Hero Class: Demon Hunter— Unleash the demon within as an all-new melee hero class gifted with preternatural mobility—and the ability to metamorphose into hellish new forms.
  • New Feature: Artifact Weapons— Smite the Legion with class-specific weapons of lore. Unlock awesome abilities and traits, and customize your weapon to suit your needs.
  • New Continent: The Broken Isles— Discover the fate of a lost night elf civilization, confront twisted fragments of the Emerald Nightmare, and hunt agents of the Legion in all-new zones.
  • Boost to Level 100— Come fully prepared to battle the Legion with a level-100 character boost, and fight alongside your friends in this epic new chapter of World of Warcraft—available immediately upon preorder†.
  • New Feature: Order Hall— Unite fellow NPC members of your class’s order to carry out missions at your command.
  • New PvP Honor System— Fight for fame, glory, and a range of new PvP-specific powers as you face the opposing faction in Arenas and Battlegrounds.

To celebrate, Blizzard also released the opening cinematic trailer, which you can view below. This follows on from the Announcement trailer which was released last August, which you can also view below.

“Setting the stage for the demonic Burning Legion’s devastating return. As the Horde and the Alliance battle against hopeless odds, heroes of both factions must seek salvation among the Broken Isles—ancient center of a doomed night elf civilization. There, they’ll take up mighty Artifact weapons and make a forbidden pact with the dread Demon Hunters of the Illidari—a final, desperate bid to save their world from falling under the Great Burning Shadow.”

“World of Warcraft: Legion is one of the most intense chapters in the Warcraft saga yet, filled with features and content that will push new and veteran heroes to their limits,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Whether players want to boost a new character or get a head start on mastering a Demon Hunter, they’ll be primed and ready to battle the Burning Legion when the expansion launches next summer.”

Legion will be available in Standard Edition (physical and digital with an RRP of £34.99. There’s also the Digital Deluxe Edition at £49.99 which contains bonuses for World of Warcraft and other Blizzard games.

You can pre-order Legion at the official site.

Overwatch Pricing Model Announced

The information from Blizzcon just keeps flowing. Hot on the heels of new Overwatch heroes being revealed, an interview with the director of Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan brought Blizzard’s future plans for the game and the Overwatch pricing model to light.

The full notes of the Q&A session conducted by members of the Overwatch subreddit can be found here, and cover a number of topics regarding the game. And while many people’s hopes that Blizzard would use the free-to-play model for Overwatch were dashed as Blizzard opened pre-orders for the game yesterday, the topics of new heroes, potential DLC and microtransactions have been subject to mass speculation.

Firstly is the now-obvious bar to entry for Overwatch, the initial price. The base game itself starts at £29.99 for the standard edition, £39.99 for the Origin edition, featuring exclusive skins and unlocks in other Blizzard games and the currently unpriced Collector’s Edition. This physical release features a statue of hero “Soldier 76”, an artbook, soundtrack and the digital bonuses from the Origin edition. Unfortunately for those yet to get into the beta, pre-ordering Overwatch at any level will not grant you access to the beta.

For those willing to purchase the game, all of the current heroes will be available out of the gate at launch, with no intentions of including a ‘hero store’ using either real or in-game currency. It is also currently uncertain as to whether new heroes will be added at all, let alone whether they will have a price attached, instead wishing to wait for community feedback on the state of the game. All this just leaves one real concern in my mind: cosmetics. The Overwatch team are supposedly working on a third version of a progression system that may tie into the cosmetics, hopefully hinting at them being available through play. That just leaves skins up to debate, as all of the currently known skins are paid for, albeit through pre-ordering the game or purchasing the Origin Edition.

I think for many of us now, desire to get into the beta has grown, as it’s no longer just about playing the game early, but a chance to see whether the game is worth Blizzard’s asking price. Are you pleased that Blizzard seem to be avoiding the now-common freemium or pay-to-win models, or are you put off at having an upfront cost when other similar games such as Team Fortress 2 are now free?

Activision Launches its Own Film Studio

The cumbersomely-named Activision Blizzard, publishers of the World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Skylanders games, has decided to cut out the middleman and launch its own film studio, according to Deadline. Activision Blizzard Studios will use its gaming intellectual properties to create movies and TV shows, with children’s television action show Skylanders Academy, an adaptation of the popular Skylanders games, already in development, with Futurama’s Eric Rogers attached as showrunner.

Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, promises that the studio will “approach film and television development with the same unwavering commitment to excellence we are known for in game development,” a sentence which will mean very different things to different people.

Predictably, the studio has a “near-term initiative” to create “a robust cinematic universe based on the Call of Duty franchise” which may include “the possibility of television adaptations.”

“We’re not in the film and television business, we’re in the franchise, intellectual property business,” Co-President Nick van Dyk said during a sales call, adding that “This gives us a terrific position to pursue partnerships,” making the studio “extremely attractive to financial partners.” It’s inspiring to hear that the move is all about the art.

The studio’s inception comes in the wake of the imminent World of Warcraft movie, the first trailer for which hit yesterday.

After Activision Blizzard’s recent $5.9 billion purchase of King, can we expect a Candy Crush Saga movie soon? Or maybe the underappreciated classic Farm Heroes?

Warcraft Movie Trailer Released

Starting as a strategy game, then moving into massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs) and now joining Blizzards other creations in the multiplayer online battle arena game, Heroes of the Storm, the World of warcraft lore has expanded and continues to grow with each release. After revealing a new expansion for World of Warcraft and also revealing that its subscribers for the online role-playing game have continued to drop to all time lows, new life is soon to come to the Warcraft universe in the form of a full cinematic movie.

It’s long been suggested that there would be a Warcraft movie, and the above trailer does nothing but wets our appetite for the release. Orcs, Gryphons and magic seem to rule the scene with large battles and diplomatic reasoning setting the scene for what could be the start of another truly epic fantasy series.

Revealed at Blizzcon, their own convention, Blizzard also revealed that Activision Blizzard is creating its own film studio to release not only movies but TV series based on their games.

From the fantasy world of Warcraft and the techno shooters of Call of Duty you could soon see your films and TV shows sharing the names and voices of your favourite gaming characters.

Blizzard Job Post Suggests Classic Games Will Receive HD Remasters

Blizzard’s back catalogue contains a number of astonishing titles including Diablo II, Starcraft and Warcraft III. Sadly, many of these games struggle to run on modern operating systems and lack native support for high resolutions. As a result, it seems a cogent tactic to re-release these iconic titles with upgraded graphics and a more streamlined user-interface. According to a job post which you can find here, it appears Blizzard is preparing to remaster a number of old classics. The job listing reads:

“Compelling stories. Intense multiplayer. Endless replayability. Qualities that made StarCraft, Warcraft III, and Diablo II the titans of their day. Evolving operating systems, hardware, and online services have made them more difficult to be experienced by their loyal followers or reaching a new generation.

We’re restoring them to glory, and we need your engineering talents, your passion, and your ability to get tough jobs done.

So if you like wearing many hats, know small teams are the most effective, and look forward to challenges that will create millions of new adventures for our players: we would love to hear from you.

Responsibilities: 
Make gameplay first again on modern operating systems.
Create conditions for experiences that look as good as they play.
Own implementation and curation of features new and old.
Combat hacking to improve multiplayer.
Diagnose and fix all the things: crashes, deadlocks, overflows, heap corruptions, etc.”

This is a very exciting prospect although I’m guessing the games will remain exclusive to Blizzard’s store. Some of my earliest memories which made the PC platform so enticing revolved around Diablo II. Over the years I’ve tried to get to grips with Starcraft but failed miserably. Overall, I think this a sensible decision by Blizzard which allows a new audience to experience what makes their previous works so special.

What is your favourite Blizzard game of all time?

Twelve Arrested Over Starcraft II Match-Fixing

Twelve people have been arrested following the revelation of match-fixing an illegal betting in Blizzard’s sci-fi real-time strategy Starcraft II, with lifetime bans issued to all offenders, reports Team Liquid. The Changwon Regional Prosecutor’s Office has revealed that PRIME head coach Gerrard (Park Wae-Sik) and programmers YoDa (Choi Byeong-Heon) and BBoongBBoong (Choi Jong-Hyuk) are the most high-profile figures to have been arrested over the allegations. Brokers and financial backers behind the scenes have also been arrested.

PRIME Head Coach Gerrard is thought to have been the middle-man, co-ordinating the match fixing with brokers and fellow players, with a total of 57,000,000 KRW (Korean won) changing hands via Gerrard.

Following an investigation by Korean authorities, five matches were found to have been fixed – four played by YoDa, and one by BBoongBBoong – all taking place between January and June this year.

List of fixed matches, based on information from the official investigation

YoDa:
2015 Proleague
• 06-09 match against HerO

2015 Season 1 GSL
• 02-13 – Code S Ro16 vs Life OR TY (Gerrard named as middleman)

2015 Season 2 GSL:
• 04-01 – Code A Ro48 vs DRG
• 05-13 – Code S Ro32 vs Bbyong (Gerrard named as middleman)

BBoongBBoong:
2015 Proleague:
• 01-20 match against Flash (Gerrard named as middleman)

After the arrests, KeSPA released the following statement:

Hello, this is director Cho Man Soo of the Korean e-Sports Association. 

The association opened a disciplinary hearing today. We plan to ban Gerrard (Prime head coach) and YoDa for life and permanently suspend their licenses.

Since 2010, the association has worked alongside the rest of the industry to fight against the illegal betting that has continued to threaten the foundation of e-Sports. It is extremely regrettable that a related incident has occurred again, and we apologize to all of the fans who have shown e-Sports their love and support.

This is the association’s understanding of the situation:

Toward the end September, we confirmed that PRIME’s Gerrard and YoDa had been arrested and incarcerated by public prosecutors on charges related to illegal betting and match-fixing.

The case is currently under investigation, and as such we expect details to be released at a later time by the Prosecutor’s office. The association will actively cooperate in the investigation, and if any others are found to be involved in the case, they will be banned for life regardless of the result of a trial. Depending on the circumstances, the association may sue for damages and/or file charges on grounds of obstruction.

Since 2013, the association has enacted regular anti-corruption education for all head coaches, coaches, and players competing in Proleague. The association also received agreements from coaching staff and players that they could be subject to measures under civil and/or criminal law should they be involved in illegal betting. Furthermore, starting in 2014, we started a program reward those who reported or confessed to illicit activities, and signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the police department’s Cyber Bureau, the Korea Communications Standards Commission, and the Korea Internet Self-governance Organization for a clean e-Sports environment.

The association independently learned that Gerrard and YoDa were involved illegal betting from an anonymous source seeking a reward. While investigating the case internally, we learned that the Prosecutor’s office had made arrests and were holding an investigation, and we have been receiving legal advice since then. 

The association will pursue strong legal measures based on recent reports, and will be utterly uncompromising should investigators find any hint of connection. Going forward, the association’s stance toward illegal betting will continue to be one of zero-compromise, and we will continue to respond strongly to create a healthy e-Sports culture.

The League of Legends team SBENU, which was run by Gerrard, will be run under the association’s stewardship, and there will be no interruptions in the operations of the team. 

Once again, we apologize for worrying all of the fans of Korean e-Sports and everyone who works tirelessly for the advancement of e-Sports.

Image courtesy of Blizzard.

Blizzards ‘Overwatch’ Beta Details Revealed

Blizzard has a long line of video games in its resume, from the Warcraft series to Diablo and StarCraft, they are remembered for a wide range of characters and settings. Most recently they pushed into the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) scene with their Heroes of the Storm. Featuring characters from all their games and a focus on objectives throughout several very different maps it has been well accepted by the public and Blizzard hope to repeat that success with their latest game idea, Overwatch.

Online FPS shooter, Overwatch, will see two teams of heroes and villains fight for control at command points and use the same objective based gameplay that made heroes of the storm popular, encouraging teamwork and consistent combat throughout. The latest on Overwatch though is good news for some and less for others.

October 27th is the official date for the start of the Beta but if you are eager to get into the game there are a few things you should be aware of.
First up the location, at the start the Beta test will only be available in America, with the rest of the world joining in at a later date (a similar release model was followed by some of their previous games). Secondly the beta testing will be broken into two groups, their core and beta weekend groups.

The core group will be responsible for the majority of the testing and will have access to the game for testing every day. This will be their core testing group, with large groups of users being invited to participate in their beta weekends for testing out just how well the game will handle with thousands of players.

Thank you Blizzard for the information.

StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Cinematic and Release Date Revealed

These days, it’s often possible for pre-orders to start for a game before the developer has even announced the launch date. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void is no exception with pre-orders opening up 2 months ago but no launch date yet. That has been rectified today with Blizzard announcing that the third and final installment of StarCraft II will launch on November 10th 2015.

Along with the announcement, Blizzard released yet another one of their glorious cinematics. In it, the Protoss struggle to hold their ground as they warp in reinforcements to reclaim their homeworld. Like the title suggests, the last expansion in the series will focus on the Protoss and their legacy as well as wrapping up the story for the rest of the characters like Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan.

Interestingly, the date Blizzard has chosen, November 10th, is already claimed by two other major titles, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Fallout 4. This means for more budget gamers, they will have to choose which game to first spend their hard earned cash on and which one to play first. While Blizzard can gamble that RTS players and fans of the other games aren’t the same, there will invariably be overlap. For now, be sure to check out the opening cinematic below.

World of Warcraft Subscriptions Falling at Record Speed

World of Warcraft has been exceptionally popular over the years and instantly recognisable, even to people without any MMO experience. However, reports from the latest quarter indicates a sharp decline in the game’s popularity and now only has 5.6 million subscribers, the lowest figure such 2006. This comes after a recent surge surrounding the release of Warlords of Draenor which increased the player base to 10 million. More specifically, the latest results signify a 44% drop within a 6 month period. Since 2011, World of Warcraft has struggled to retain its fairly large community and that was to be expected.

Players have either become bored with the experience or moved onto other alternatives. There’s so much choice nowadays when it comes to MMOs including The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2, TERA, Wildstar, Final Fantasy XIV and lots more! Realistically, Blizzard expected this and their current subscription base still accounts for a significant revenue stream. Obviously, a 44% decline in 6 months is rather drastic, but with future content updates, this could easily be reversed.

Another reason why Blizzard isn’t panicking, is the success of other products like Hearthstone and Starcraft II. Perhaps, they see World of Warcraft as a niche outlet but with people prepared to spend much more than the average consumer. As time progresses, it’s a cogent strategy to alter their business model to reflect the times. Will it ever become free-to-play? Only time will tell.

Thank you Forbes for providing us with this information.

World of Warcraft Subscribers Descend To 9 Year Low

Is it me or has World of Warcraft been around forever and a day? It certainly feels that way considering the game was released way back in 2004, since then it has spawned expansions to the excitement of fans, but it seems subscription numbers are not quite what they used to be.

According to the press release from Activision, World of Warcraft has 5.6 million subscribers to of the end of the second business quarter which for Activision is 30th June 2015.

Blizzard president Mike Morhaime stated the Warlords of Draenor expansion brought more returning players to the game than any previously. He also confirmed plans for the company to increases the rate of content to help attract new players while also retaining existing fans.

For a game which is nearly 11 years old, I do think it is an achievement to be able to attract 5.6 million subscribers, considering how current market trends will become obsolete in a matter of months. For me, this is the unfortunate by-product of listing your company to investors, yes it brings in much-needed revenue, but it does not take long for the market to react to any slight negative data which would impact on profits.

If you’re a regular reader to my articles for eTeknix then you know I like a tangent, and here it is, take a look at the WWE, Hulk Hogan was erased for two reasons, the obvious “open your mouth before engaging brain” with the second reason being that WWE share price lost $50 million dollars as the market reacted to the news. Investors call the shots and back successful trends and track record projects, any negative press effects company value. Investors wonder why they have not attracted more players; try 11 years with the same concept being rehashed within expansions. This is why you also have Fifa 2679 and Call of Duty Black Ops 12, the balance sheet conveys a track record of revenue to consumers.

Thank you Polygon for providing us with this information.

Apple Moves Closer to the Gaming Market

We know that Apple’s hardware, especially its OS X operating system, was not designed with gaming in mind. This is why gamers and developers alike chose Windows and its DirectX when it comes to graphics, but Apple seems to want a piece of the gaming market too and this was clearly shown today at their Worldwide Developer Conference.

If you are familiar with last year’s WWDC, then you know all about the company’s Metal API. If you don’t, then you should know that the latter is Apple’s gaming platform previously announced for their iOS devices. However, this year the company wants to integrate it into their latest OS X too.

Dubbed El Capitan, Apple’s latest OS X 10.11 seems to move closer than ever to the gaming market, bringing 10x rendering performance compared to their previous OS X. To demonstrate El Capitan’s potential, they brought Epic Games to show everyone how gaming can be made possible on low-level graphics performance.

Also, Epic Games is not the only company to back Apple’s decision. Metal seems to be endorsed by other big name gaming companies such as 2K Games, Blizzard, and Unity. The companies have announced that they will be integrating Apple’s Metal API into their engines, which means we can look forward to more titles coming to Apple’s OS next year.

Than you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of iC

No Plans for Flying Mounts in Warlords of Draenor or Beyond

For everyone eagerly waiting to get to the patch that will allow flying mounts in Warlods of your hopes were just dashed! In an interview with Polygon lead designer Ion Hazzikostas made it clear that Blizzard is done with flying mounts, and they will not be in Warlords of Draenor or future expansions or patches.

Polygon was doing an interview that was to be about the upcoming 6.2 patch when Ion Hazzikostas made it clear that I won’t get to use my glider parachute.

Hazzikostas said,”At this point, we feel that outdoor gameplay in World of Warcraft is ultimately better without flying. We’re not going to be reintroducing the ability to fly in Draenor, and that’s kind of where we’re at going forward.” He went on further, “Having looked at how flying has played out in the old world in the last couple of expansions, we realized that while we were doing it out of this ingrained habit after we introduced flying in The Burning Crusade, it actually detracted from gameplay in a whole lot of ways. While there was certainly convenience in being able to completely explore the world in three dimensions, that also came at the expense of gameplay like targeted exploration, like trying to figure out what’s in that cave on top of a hill and how do I get up there.”

So now I no longer need to look at the flying mounts from the Blizzard store.

Thank you pcgamesn.com for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of mmosite.com

The Best Selfie in World of Warcraft Will Get You to Blizzcon

If you are a World of Warcraft fan, chances are that you have been at Blizzcon at least once by now. If not, then there might be a chance for Blizzard to send you there this year. What you have to do is get your best World of Warcraft selfie face on.

I know it sounds a bit odd for a selfie in World of Warcraft, but hey, Blizzard are known for cropping up weird competitions and getting you involved in the process. It looks like this competition will follow how players can work on making the best selfie in a lot of spots Blizzard picks for you.

So what Blizzard does is pick a spot for you each week. Then, you can go when you want during that week to the latter spot and try to do the best selfie you can imagine. The grand prize will be two tickets to Blizzcon this November, but that’s not the only thing you can win.

Blizzard says that each submission is eligible for weekly prizes and goodies, such as Blizzard branded gear, Battle.net codes and even an iPhone 6 to help you with your selfie problem in real life. Just kidding. In order to take part, head on over to the WoW Selfiel Scavenger Hunt website where you can find more details.

Thank you PCGamesN for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Millenium.org

Closed Beta Testing for StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void Could Start at the End of March

The latest StarCraft title, Legacy of the Void, is said to be the closing story for the StarCraft 2 series. It was first announced at BlizzCon last year, but Blizzard did not mention when it will be released.

While Blizzard is known for taking its time with their titles, The Daily Dot gives some hope that the release date is close than expected. Their sources say that the closed beta for Legacy of the Void should be launched at the end of March or early April, pointing out that gaming press and esports organisations have been told to submit their requests for beta keys.

“It’s great timing for them. WCS Season 1 will be all but over and this will give players plenty of time to stream the beta and generate some excitement. As things stand the beta is pretty much ready to launch with the balance team just tweaking a few units.”

Blizzard stated that StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void will not be an expansion, but a standalone game. It is said to focus on the Protoss side of the story and should ultimately end the StarCraft 2 story as a whole.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information

Subscription Free World of Warcraft Coming

Blizzard has a new way to play World of Warcraft, and it’s perfect for the non-subscription-based players. Meet the “WoW Token.”

Players can purchase the WoW Tokens with real money in game, then can even sell them in the auction house. Each token in the auction house, which can be bought with in game gold, will be good for 30 days of game time.

As reported by Polygon.com, Blizzard has developed a special formula that determines the price of the Tokens, Blizzard will:

“Take into account supply and demand for Tokens as well as other elements of the World of Warcraft economy in each region”

After purchasing a Token in the auction house with in game gold, the Token is soulbound to the character it is purchased for, and therefore only redeemable by you, thus making the Tokens no resellable.

Source: TweakTown

World of Warcraft Moving Closer to Free-to-Play Model

Blizzard is introducing “WoW tokens” to its MMORPG World of Warcraft that can be bought from other players using in-game gold or from Blizzard directly for real money. The tokens can be exchanged for 30 days of game time. A token will cost £9.99 from the Battle.net store, or £8.69 each if purchased in bulk.

Since WoW tokens can be bought using in-game currency, it is conceivable that hardcore players who raise a lot of gold can now play the game for free, using in-game earnings to sustain their monthly subscriptions.

“The WoW Token was created to give players with lots of extra gold the option to use it to help cover their subscription cost, and give those who want to purchase gold a way to do so from fellow players through a secure, easy-to-use system. The Token will be making its début in an upcoming patch.” Reads the Blizzard website.

Blizzard hopes that the move will encourage new players who don’t want to part with money to play the game to sign up, and even to attract previous players back. Though still massively popular, World of Warcraft subscriptions have been on the decline for a number of years. The game hit highs of 12 million subscribers back in 2010, but in five years that number has nearly halved to 6.8 million.

Source: The Guardian

Video Games Should Be Made an Olympic Sport, Says Warcraft Creator

e-Sports, or competitive video gaming, should be made an Olympic event, according to the creator of Warcraft. Rob Pardo, who left his position as Chief Creative Officer at game developer Blizzard Entertainment earlier this year, spoke passionately to the BBC about his desire for Olympic recognition of video games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“There’s a very good argument for e-sports being in the Olympics,” said Pardo. “I think the way that you look at e-sports is that it’s a very competitive skillset and you look at these professional gamers and the reflexes are lightning quick and their having to make very quick decisions on the fly. When you look at their ‘actions per minute’, they’re clearing over 300.”

Gaining recognition as an Olympic sport by the IOC is an arduous process, particularly since the organisation capped the number of sports allowed at the Games. Adding further complication, being added to the Olympic roster doesn’t mean an automatic place at the Games, only that a case for its inclusion can be made to the IOC.

It is debatable whether e-sports even qualifies, or whether it would be regarded as a “mind sport”, like chess. The IOC have long refused chess a place at the Games for this reason.

Source: BBC

“Legends of Hearthstone” Comes to Android Devices

Blizzard has recently revealed that their special edition “Legends of Hearthstone” game will be soon released to Android devices and be seen as similar to the iPad offering. Quoted to require a 6-inch screen and a minimum of 1GB of system memory, alongside needing the user to update to an Android 5.0 operating system.

Specific information regarding the operation requirements include:

  • Display: 6-inch or larger
  • System: Android version 4.0 after
  • Memory: 1GB

Recommended devices to run this game include:

  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD 6 (2014)
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 (2014)
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 (2013)
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 (2014)
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (2014)
  • Asus Google Nexus 7
  • Huawei MediaPad X1
  • NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Note LTE 10.1 N8020
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
  • Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet LTE

The devices above have been recommended to run the game at a sooth frame-rate. However given the specifications listed above, it is to be noted that Asus’ Transformer Pad TF300T will not function correctly – this is due to VR540 and 544 GPU’s may cause image display issues. The avoid some display issues, it is recommended that you can however try to update your device to the latest operating system to Lollipop 5.0 or Fire OS 4.5.1.

Hearthstone Legends does not have an exact reported release date as of yet, we will report as the story develops.

Image and information courtesy of Chiphell

Ex-Riot Games Developers Bring Vainglory MOBA to iOS

If you thought the only time you’d be playing MOBAs was when you were at you desktop, and that moving around in the car, train, plane, couch or toilet were safe from your addictions to MOBAs… think again.

Super Evil Megacorp, a bunch of ex-developers from Riot Games, Blizzard and Rockstar have formed their superpowers together for this new studio, with their first game being a MOBA named Vainglory. Vainglory will be hitting iOS devices later this month, and uses the typical MOBA formula by shrinking the team size down to three – versus the usual five – and limiting the matches to just 20 minutes.

There’s only one lane to concentrate on, and the game’s controls are done through your iOS-powered touchscreen. For those living in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Vainglory is free. Europeans will have to wait until November 13 to get their hands on this new MOBA, with North America, South America, the Middle East and Africa receiving it on November 18.

China, Japan and Korea currently have no release date – which is strange, as those markets would be huge for this game. You’ll require an iPad 2 or higher if you want to get in on the Vainglory action, or an iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, or iPhone 6 Plus to play it.

Source: Joystiq.

Blizzard Tease New FPS Named Overwatch

Well, if that cinematic hasn’t already blown you away or tugged on some heart-strings – maybe what you’re about to read will.

There’s no denying that Blizzard are kings when it comes to the trailer department, the video you’ve just watched is yet another installment in a long history of wonderful cinematic experiences – but what does that say for actual game play?

Announced during the opening day of Blizzcon, Overwatch is set to be a competitive team-based FPS based around capturing control points as your main objective. As you’ve just witnessed, it’s going to be set up at a kind of hero vs. villain style game with extremely different versatility and abilities throughout each class. You can jump into play as a giant intelligent ape, a sentry turret transforming robot or something a little more sneaky. Many have likened the games basic attributes to that of Team Fortress 2, but in true blizzard fashion this game seems to be focused heavily around ‘heroes’ with different abilities, styling and personalities.

Unfortunately, there’s no set release date for the BETA as of yet, all we’ve been told is to expect it some time in 2015. It’s also interesting to note the ‘Pixtar’ style graphics depicted in the video above, something fairly different to your usual Blizzard-esque release. Don’t let the graphics fool you though, it’s not often (or ever) that Blizzard make a bad game.

Overwatch is available for play at Blizzcon on 600 computers, therefore people have been posting hands-on experiences throughout social media and snippets on YouTube – expect to see much more in the following days.

We haven’t seen word as to if this game will be released as free-to-play, but it wouldn’t be too surprising given the current trend of free games. However, we haven’t seen Blizzard be too interested in adopting this position as of yet – so we’re interested to see what path they go down.

In the end, I think we can expect Overwatch to be a rather fun shoot ’em up style game – but it’s being labeled as a competitive title by most. How will it fare? We need the BETA to truly tell.

Image courtesy of NDTV Gadgets