Blizzard’s San Diego Comic-Con Social Giveaways

I had never heard of Splurgy, or the fact that it’s an app (according to Blizzard’s description), until I noticed the Blizzard giveaway in preparation for San Diego Comic-Con 2014. The giveaway is simple: go Like everything Blizzard does on Facebook and get entered to win grab bags!


YOUR CHANCE TO WIN EXCLUSIVE SDCC LOOT!

Your Chance To Win Exclusive SDCC Loot!

Click here to enter to win 1 of 25 Blizzard Comic-Con Goodie Bags! What’s inside, you ask? The 2014 Blizzard Comic-Con Goodie Bag contains some of the exciting prizes we will be selling at San Diego Comic-Con this year:

  • (1) Heroes of the Storm Team Tee
  • (1) Heroes of the Storm Lanyard
  • (1) Diablo Whimsyshire Treasure Goblin
  • (1) Starcraft Cute But Deadly Cloaking Zeratul
  • (1) Starcraft Funko Pop! Vinyl Primal Kerrigan
  • (1) Warcraft Nether Faerie Dragon Plush

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Entering our giveaway is quick and easy, just follow the instructions on the giveaway link above. You can earn entries into our giveaway by completing a variety of social actions through the Splurgy app, including:


Want to get your hands on the items that aren’t exclusive to Comic-Con? Head to the Blizzard Gear store now by clicking here.

Blizzard Wins $7 Million In Bot Company Lawsuit (Gamespot.com)

Every regular, paying MMORPGer can’t stand bots. They destroy economies, ruin questing hub hunting grounds, get in your way, out-level and out-gather you, and generally wreak havoc on a game world. It’s nice to see at least one botting company having to pay back some of the cash they’ve earned doing most anything illegal in a game.


California Court orders World of Warcraft bot company to pay $7 million in damages to Blizzard Entertainment.

Blizzard Entertainment has won a lawsuit against a World of Warcraft bot company for $7 million.

According to a report on GamesIndustry, the suit was originally filed by Blizzard Entertainment against Ceiling Fan Software in December 2011. Ceiling Fan Software was allegedly behind a number of World of Warcraft bots, including Shadow Bot and Pocket Gnome.

California Court has ordered Ceiling Fan Software to cease operations and pay Blizzard Entertainment $7 million in damages. A statement posted on the Ceiling Fan Software website cites “two years of legal battles” by the organisation to “both pursue our right to operate and our customer’s right to play WoW as they choose”.

Ceiling Fan Software is accepting donations to assist with “outstanding legal fees”.

Parent company Activision Blizzard revealed a drop in World of Warcraft subscribers earlier this year. Despite dipping to 7.7 million active players, the publisher revealed that the game remains the most popular subscription-based MMO in the world.

Subscribers for World of Warcraft peaked at over 12 million in October 2010. The original World of Warcraft game was released in 2004, and was followed by four expansion packs:Burning CrusadeWrath of the Lich KingCataclysm, and Mists of Pandaria.

A film adaptation of the Warcraft universe is scheduled to begin filming in 2014.

Blizzard Announces Diablo III Expansion: Reaper of Souls

Looks like BlizzCon is going to have something worth revealing this year: an expansion pack to the Diablo III world. They will have 300 PCs available for conference attendees to sink their teeth into the latest and greatest for the awkwardly troubled franchise and the expansion will debut on the PS4.


Reaper of Souls at BlizzCon® 2013 on PC and PS4

Malthael, the Angel of Death, grows restless. Having sieged the historic city of Westmarch, he now sets his sights on a new metropolis: Anaheim, California—the great gamer haven of the West. Soon, his forces will begin their march on the hallowed halls of BlizzCon and only you, mighty Nephalem, can defend its denizens and help put a stop to the coming apocalypse.

Are you ready?

Join the Crusade, November 8-9

Summon your allies, ready your best weapon, and prepare to make a stand against Malthael in Hall A of the Anaheim Convention Center.

With 300 PC demo stations at their command, attendees will have the opportunity to join the fight for Westmarch, seek fame and treasure in all-new Nephalem Rifts (previously called Loot Runs), and journey through Adventure Mode, where the world itself is your battlefield. All five of the original Diablo III classes will be playable, as well as the recently-unveiled Crusader, a fierce mid-range melee warrior who wields punishing weapons (and an even more punishing arsenal of spells and abilities).

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Looking for more Reaper of Souls screenshots? Click here!

Reaper of Souls Invades PlayStation® 4

We’re also excited to announce that Diablo III: Reaper of Souls will be making its public debut on the PlayStation® 4 at BlizzCon 2013!

In our action-packed single-player and same-screen co-op demos, players will get to explore the haunted streets of Westmarch as one of our five original classes or test their mettle as the unyielding Crusader. Attendees will also be some of the first in the world to take on Death itself using a DUALSHOCK®4 controller, featuring touch pad technology designed to help keep heroes out game menus and focused on what they do best: killing monsters.

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Click here to view the full BlizzCon 2013 floor map.

For those of you who are BlizzCon-bound, we salute you! If you can’t make the show in person, be sure to check out the Virtual Ticket, which includes over 60 hours of high-definition footage so you can catch all the action from the comfort of your home.

Head on over to BlizzCon.com for panel schedules, event maps, hotel and travel information, forums, and more, and be sure to stay tuned to diablo3.com for all the latest news for Reaper of Souls on PC and PS4!

Diablo 3: Auction House Feature To End

Given the amazing new loot system expected to launch in Loot 2.0, the Auction House certainly would have less appeal. However, I wonder just how much cash has actually been made via the AH thus far? Regardless, six months in *ample* notification.

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Diablo® III Auction House Update

When we initially designed and implemented the auction houses, the driving goal was to provide a convenient and secure system for trades. But as we’ve mentioned on different occasions, it became increasingly clear that despite the benefits of the AH system and the fact that many players around the world use it, it ultimately undermines Diablo’s core game play: kill monsters to get cool loot. With that in mind, we want to let everyone know that we’ve decided to remove the gold and real-money auction house system from Diablo III.

We feel that this move along with the Loot 2.0 system being developed concurrently with Reaper of Souls™ will result in a much more rewarding game experience for our players.

We’re working out the details of how the auction house system will be shut down, but we wanted to share the news as soon as we made the decision in order to give everyone as much advance notice as possible. Please note that the shutdown will occur on March 18, 2014. We will keep everyone informed as we work through this process.

Josh Mosqueira and I wanted to provide everyone with a little more information behind this decision, so please have a look at the video, and stay tuned to this site for further updates in the months ahead.


World of Warcraft: Revenues Drop 54% In 6 Months

I’m pretty surprised at the massive drop in revenue over the past six months.

Over the past nine months, WOW has faced stiff competition from newcomers Neverwinter (reached over 2 million players) and Guild Wars 2 (closing in on 4 million copies sold). Plus, several of the top P2P MMORPGs swapped to a F2P model, drastically increasing their respective player bases (RIFT, SWTOR, TSW, etc.) Even Final Fantasy XIV’s hectic launch will be taking its fair share of customers as hundreds of thousands play concurrently now (so expect 1.5-2 million copies sold).

While I hardly think this is “the end” for WOW, it does feel like the past few years have had less and less interest overall in the franchise. Pandas may not have paid off.

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World of Warcraft

SuperData Research predicts that World of Warcraft is on course toward a microtransactions future.

In April, the subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game made $93 million in revenues, a huge loss from $204 million seven months ago. Blizzard also lost about 1.3 million monthly active users from its Eastern player base.

While introducing microtransactions beyond pets and mounts would help, a total switch to free-to-play would be “too much of a jolt for WoW,” reads a post on SuperData’s blog.

Players are responding to the microtransactions that are available, however, which is a positive sign for Blizzard.

“Despite major declines in total revenues between September 2012 and April 2013, the game has seen an increasing conversion rate for [its] current, add-on, extra-game store, and its microtransaction revenues have held pat overall,” says SuperData. “What it tells us is that dedicated WoW players are interested in — and will spend money on — microtransactions. By bringing this system into the game and allowing for power-ups and performance-based microtransactions, WoW hopes to further entice players to spend.”

Just don’t expect a free-to-play WoW anytime soon.

Diablo 3: Console Version Now Available For PS3 & Xbox 360

Today is September 3rd which means Diablo 3 is now officially available in console form for Xbox 360 and PS3 at the premium price of $59.99. Oddly, the Battle.net site actually takes you to GameStop by default, but you can choose Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target from the drop-down menu before hitting “BUY NOW”.

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Expansion Announced at Gamescom 2013 (GameSpot.com)

Well, this announcement surprised me. Diablo 3 was widely hailed as a massive failure for the franchise. I did not expect an expansion this quickly. But, heck, a new class, a new act, level cap increase to 70, and new loot mechanics sound great to me!

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New Diablo III expansion will include a new character class, a new act, and new loot mechanics.

Blizzard has officially announced the Diablo III expansion Reaper of Souls at Gamescom 2013.

Game director Josh Mosqueira introduced the new expansion during a Blizzard press conference at Gamescom 2013. Mosquiera said the game will feature a brand-new fifth act to pit players against new villain Malthael, a fallen angel. The expansion will take a darker tone than the original Diablo III campaign, Blizzard adds, and will be set in the gothic environment Westmarch.

Blizzard did not mention a release date for Reaper of Souls.

Reaper of Souls will introduce a new class, the Crusader, and increase the level cap to 70. All of the game’s classes will get new skills, passive abilities, and runes. The Crusader class is a descendent of the Paladin order and includes a version of the Fist of the Heavens skill seen in Diablo II.

Mosqueira said Diablo III’s end-game content would also be improved with a new feature, Loot Runs, and an upgrade to the Paragon system. Loot Runs will be entirely randomly generated dungeons designed to take between 15 and 20 minutes to complete, and the Paragon mechanic will now be account-wide, will have no cap, and will allow players to modify the base stats of their characters.

Blizzard says it wants to change the game’s philosophy towards loot, with the expansion now dropping less but better loot. Using the example of a playthrough in Act III, the Reaper of Souls expansions dropped 73 white items as opposed to 256 in the original game. The Act III playthrough also dropped six legendary items, as opposed to one in a Diablo III run.

Legendary items in Reaper of Souls will also now tailor themselves around character builds, adds Blizzard, such as a wizard weapon that has a chance to summon a hydra when killing an enemy. The mystic artisan will also return, allowing players to transmogrify items and tailor the look of characters. The mystic will also be able to enchant items.

The company had previously hinted at the expansion with a teaser website and the promise of a “special announcement” at the European trade show.

Diablo III launched on PC and Mac in May 2012. Blizzard will be bringing Diablo III to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in September, and to the PlayStation 4 in 2013.

Activision Pays $8.2 Billion to Say Good-Bye to Vivendi (ArsTechnica.com)

It must be frustrating for Activision Blizzard to see their profits gobbled up by parent corp Vivendi. This should return billions to Activision Blizzard annually and give them substantially more capitol to invest into upcoming projects (Titan, anyone?). Now, if only Bioware would do this to EA.

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Move is more likely about capturing profits than regaining independence.

Independence in the game industry isn’t just for tiny developers looking to break free of their corporate taskmasters. Even mega-publisher Activision Blizzard wants to assert its independence, so much so that late last night it announced an $8.17 billion buyback of most of the shares in the company owned by French entertainment conglomerate Vivendi.

Activision Blizzard is buying about 429 million shares in itself from Vivendi for $5.83 billion, and an investor group led by CEO Bobby Kotick and Co-Chairman Brian Kelly is buying 172 million more shares for $2.34 billion. Kotick and Kelly are responsible for $100 million of that purchase, showing their continued personal investment in the future of the company. Vivendi will still retain a 12 percent share of Activision going forward, down from its current 61 percent stake.

Activision merged with Vivendi back in late 2007 in an $18.8 billion deal that all but eliminated the previously vibrant Vivendi Games as a distinct entity. The merger also reportedly caused some collateral damage for the once-proud Sierra Games sub-brand.

Why move to get out from under Vivendi’s shadow now? It’s possible that Activision was feeling stifled by its parent’s corporate machinations and wants to strike out in a bold new direction without being beholden to the bottom-line of a mega-corporation. But that seems a bit unlikely since Activision is still an investor-driven mega-corporation in its own right.

More likely, Kotick and other investors were tired of seeing Activision’s consistently strong earnings being gobbled up by a parent company that bought them out just before a big surge. When Vivendi first merged with Activision, the recently released Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was just a surprisingly successful holiday release and not yet a global phenomenon franchise that would bring Activision largely unexpected billions. Vivendi also swooped in just in time to reap a lot of the profits Activision was able to squeeze from its newly acquired Guitar Hero franchise before the bottom fell out from the rhythm gaming market.

Activision Blizzard expects to bring in $4.31 billion in revenue this fiscal year, which actually makes today’s $8.2 billion buyback seem like a deal. Obviously, Kotick and company expect those revenue numbers to continue to climb even higher in coming years, and they want to recapture a significant stake in the company before it becomes even more expensive to do so.

Original ArsTechnica Article

New AAA Online Game Studio, Molten, Formed (NewsBlaze.com)

Execs from two top and one middle-of-the-road studio, plus millions (generally $2 million – $10 million in that “series”) of start-up cash from NCSoft? Huh. That’s a very unique blend of Eastern and Western gaming influences.

For me, Relic seems like the odd man out given their games haven’t exactly been massive successes. Primarily they have Dawn of War (Warhammer 40,000 related) and Company of Heroes IPs with generally average to good Metacritic ratings. However, Warhammer 40,000 is already being made by Behaviour Interactive, Canada’s largest independent game developer, due out late 2015.

If Westernized MMORPGs from Asia and Russia over the past few years have proven anything, it’s that melding concepts across continents and cultures often proves disappointing to the vast majority of players. One can only hope they take Western sensibilities and filter them through an Eastern artistic lens.

This could be a mind-blowing IP or a gigantic flop. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for something amazing, though we’ll probably have to wait four or five years for the first game. *shakes fists*

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Executives From Blizzard, Sony Online and Relic Entertainment Form Molten Games

SAN DIEGO – (BUSINESS WIRE) – Molten Games, a developer and publisher of online games, announced that the company has received a multimillion-dollar investment from Korean gaming powerhouse NCSOFT, leading the way on Molten’s Series A funding.

“Molten Games has assembled a wildly talented and experienced team, and we absolutely believe they will create and run an amazing new game experience,” said Taek Jin Kim, CEO at NCSOFT. “They’re setting the bar high for themselves, with a strong desire to shake up the online gaming space by creating something new and unique in our industry.”

Molten Games is centered in San Diego, California. Focused on breaking free from the traditional developer/publisher relationship and putting gameplay first and foremost, the company is continuing to build its talented team and first product, with more information about the game to be released at a later date.

“We created Molten Games in order to truly have control over our game development and IP, and we’re going to create something epic,” said Jungwon Hahn, CEO and co-founder of Molten Games. “Our team understands not only the creation of online games, but the ongoing management of them, better than anyone else in the industry. As we continue to build our team and work on our initial product, gameplay and player experience is going to come first with every decision.”

For more information about the company, please visit http://www.moltengames.com.

About Molten Games, Inc.

Molten Games, Inc. is a developer of premium online video games based in sunny San Diego. Powered by a team of top creative talent from companies including Blizzard Entertainment, Sony Online Entertainment and Relic Entertainment, Molten Games is breaking the traditional developer/publisher mold in order to put gameplay and player experience first and foremost. Molten Games is backed by a multimillion-dollar Series A investment from NCSOFT.

About NCSOFT

NCSOFT, headquartered in Seoul, Korea, is the world’s premier publisher and developer of massively multiplayer online games, including the critically acclaimed Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, Aion, Lineage, Lineage 2 and Blade & Soul. With offices in North America, Europe, Japan, Taiwan etc, NCSOFT aims at providing fun to everyone, everywhere in the world. More information can be found at www.ncsoft.com.

See more at: http://bw.newsblaze.com/release/2013072408003500007.bw/topstory.html#sthash.rHg3bvO5.dpuf

Blizzard Confirms and Details Warcraft In-Game Store (IGN.com)

If you’ve paid any attention at all to the MMORPG genre the past few years (or have any idea what an Asian MMORPG subscriber model looks like), you’ll have seen this one coming a mile away. Heck, Blizzard has been selling plushies and $25 in-game mounts for quite some time. Seeing a major drop of over a million subscribers in Q1 of this year alone, Blizzard has to find a way to stop the bleeding and put the juggernaut back into growth mode.

Every MMORPG in recent memory that’s gone F2P and included a cash shop has seen a rise in overall earnings, if not a rise in subscriber base. If they really do launch with +XP boosts, it’s only a matter of time for the player base to start seeing WOW as Pay-to-Win. At that point, Blizzard will see the subscriber numbers really hemorrhage.

Note: This article contains the original article plus a sizeable follow-up with newly released information.

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Asian regions to get the brunt of purchasable boosts, to start with anyway.

Update: Blizzard has confirmed an in-game store is on the way to World of Warcraft, and detailed what regions will be getting what first.

Community manager Bashiok explained that, for many, the store will simply offer a more convenient way to purchase items already available from Blizzard’s Cash Shop.

“For players who are already interested in the in-game items we offer, such as Pet Store pets and mounts, the benefits of an in-game store are pretty clear. We think everyone would appreciate the convenience of being able to make such purchases without having to leave the game, and ultimately that’s our long-term goal for the system, though there’s quite a bit of work involved in retrofitting those existing items into the new system.”

He then went on to clarify that the experience boosting items previously uncovered would be offered “in Asian regions, at the outset” before revealing another in-game item that’ll also be available for purchase.

“First, we’ll be testing the in-game store with some new kinds of items we’re looking into introducing (in Asian regions, at the outset) based on player feedback: specifically, an experience buff to assist with the leveling process, as well as an alternate way to acquire Lesser Charms of Good Fortune. We’ve had a lot of requests from players in different regions for convenience-oriented items such as these, and as with other new ideas we’ve introduced as WoW has evolved—including Pet Store pets, mounts, and more—your feedback plays a hugely important part in determining what we add to the game.

“Ultimately it’s still too early in the process to make any final determinations about our plans, but in the meantime, we hope you’ll check out the in-game store once it’s implemented on the PTR and let us know what you think.”

The inclusion of Lesser Charms of Good Fortune has caused some consternation among fans of the game, as they can be converted into an item giving players extra chances to attain gear in raids. For many, this could mark the start of a slide into what’s commonly known as “pay-to-win” territory, where your in-game strength isn’t based on skill or time invested, but rather real-world cash spent.

Blizzard has strongly denied these accusations, and the current plan doesn’t make any suggestion about the Charms being offered in the West. It’ll be interesting to see how this one develops; as one of the final MMOs to offer a subscription fee, it seems Blizzard is looking to supplement its income amid falling player numbers.

Original story follows.

Original Story: Blizzard has announced that it’s investigating the possibility of adding microtransactions to World of Warcraft.

In a post on the game’s forums, community manager Zarhym explained that no decisions had been made and the new system would only be available “in certain regions”.

“We are currently exploring the possibility of adding a way for players in certain regions to make purchases directly within the game,” he wrote. “As part of this process, elements related to this will be appearing on the PTR. We’ll provide additional updates on our plans as development progresses.”

The post was made in response to a player finding an item on the Public Test Realm for a future patch that grants a “100% XP Buff” from both killing monsters and completing quests and is available through an “In Game Store”.

It’s worth noting that Zarhym’s response suggests only certain regions will be getting the new system, meaning NA and EU may never see it. Seeing as we already have the Blizzard Cash Shop over here and the company has received some serious flack for accusations of double dipping by having both that and a subscription fee, it’s likely the new microtransactions are planned for other countries such as China.

Are you still playing World of Warcraft and would the addition of microtransactions make you stop if so? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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