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.

The Importance of MMO History And Why Developer Hand-Holding Is Killing It (Penny-Arcade.com)

Looking back at the start of my MMO career, Asheron’s Call has game elements I still have yet to see other MMOs implement well – or at all. It was as sandboxy as any game since, yet offered satisfying, intense combat, with rules meant to be bent or even broken.

Fast forward over 15 years later, every new MMO that launches excites me at first. After a month (and in some cases, just a couple weeks), my excitement has drastically diminished. Mostly that’s due to missing a strong, core social stickiness. Of course, having a brand new AAA MMORPG to play every four or six months only exacerbates that. However, I also believe it’s due to the extensive player hand-holding that’s now become an expected staple of a new launch. If every second of your time in game is guided, how can you expect to find any magic?

There’s no real discovery anymore. Everything’s in a wiki or cleanly mapped out in a YouTube video. I’m really not sure the MMOs of the past can really exist inside the society we have today and that’s truly a major loss.


The importance of MMO history, and why developer hand-holding is killing it

Every MMO player has their story. No matter what game they play, every person who has played MMOs for an appreciable amount of time has a tale of emergent gameplay, those moments when the rules of the game broke down and the personality of its players was laid bare.

These moments happen in every MMO, not just EVE Online, but they may be dying out and, ironically, it’s because MMOs are getting too “good.”

For Scott Andrews, writer of the WoW Archivist column at WoWinsider.com which catalogs the history of the game, his story begins at the Crossroads.

Damned Alliance

The Crossroads is a small city on the Horde side of World of Warcraft’s world that is easily accessible to Alliance players, as it shares a border with a neutral territory. In years past, it was a popular target for Alliance players looking for a fight; the NPC guards in the town weren’t nearly strong enough to stop a few level-capped characters.

Andrews told me about the day when, just a month after release, half a dozen max-level characters showed up to shut down the entire zone.

“At the time, this meant that people could no longer level in the Crossroads,” said Andrews. The Crossroads was the main hub of the area where players would get quests, and the Alliance players had killed all the NPCs that gave those out.

“The towns were not defended by NPCs remotely as well as they are now,” he said. “So the Alliance could literally occupy towns for hours at a time. And it was this key leveling area and the Alliance knew they could basically just shut down half of the entire server leveling.”

For a time, these Alliance characters were successful in griefing the Horde, but it wouldn’t last.

“We all banded together. Dozens and dozens of level 20 characters showed up and battled these 6-7 max-level characters and we could barely make a dent in them, but more and more people kept showing up until 50, 60, a hundred people were there all trying to get these Alliance characters out of our town so we can go back to leveling. Eventually there were enough of us that we basically drove them into the sea in this pitched battle at [the city of] Ratchet as they sprinted down the dock to catch the boat as it was pulling away,” said Andrews with a hearty laugh, still cherishing the memory nearly ten years later.

It’s moments like these that made WoW great. It established a hatred between the Alliance and the Horde which still exists today, and built the mythology and culture of the world.

Stories like this are extraordinary, if not uncommon. In the older days of MMOs, player experimentation was high, and there were lots of opportunities for excited players to experiment with the game. The Crossroads, for instance, may never have been intended to be able to be shut down by Alliance players, but the geography of the game world combined with the inevitability of the human desire to screw with each other in such a way that it was inevitable.

These are the moments that truly make the MMO experience exceptional. It’s not about the long level grinds or the weekly raids. The true magic of the MMO is when the rules break down and the players create their own game.

No more explorers

“It’s really hard for those things to happen in the game anymore, people are pretty jaded,” said Andrews. “There isn’t that same excitement about just playing and seeing what happens. The sort of organic nature of players seeing what can happen in the game is just less prevalent. And now the way MMOs are designed is to keep you flowing from one place to the next with no gaps.”

In many ways it’s boredom that coerces people into experimenting. It’s probably no coincidence that the Alliance characters who raided Andrews’ city were level-capped. They were probably bored and looking for someone to screw with to pass the time.

These days, MMOs are designed so that nobody ever gets bored and it may be siphoning the creativity and passion from the player base.

“When WoW was in its infancy, MMOs were brand new to so many people,” said Andrews. “For so many people WoW was their first MMO, and their first experience where there were a lot of people online. Now it takes something special to get people excited again.”

In a weird quirk, it may be the sloppiness and poor design of earlier MMOs like WoW which helped band people together. There are no shortage of in-jokes and great stories in WoW which extend from terrible voice acting or bugs.

The famous Blood Plague Incident, for instance all stemmed from a silly coding bug. It was one of the most famous and fondly remembered events in WoW’s history and it wouldn’t have been possible if the game was better made. Instead, it became an event which tied the community together and gave the WoW culture yet another common thread to hold together the community quilt.

“A lot of these games have a tendancy to hold your hand too much, and they lose that sense of adventure and exploration and cooperating with other people because you’re in a dangerous environment,” Andrews said. “A lot of the early MMOs had that and I’d like to see that come back.”

History in the making

The neverending attempts by developers to streamline their MMOs, to keep players on a steady progression track, may actually be killing the common bond that the community has by removing opportunities for history to be made.

“If nothing ever happens that’s remarkable then has history actually happened,” asked Andrews. “Or is it just a bunch of people going about routine things? When you look at human history, the moments that stick out in your mind are remarkable events, whether good or bad. You can always study what the average person lived like in the year 1000, but it’s not history unless something remarkable happens. And these MMO memes always spring up around something remarkable. The subculture depends very much on these individual incidents.”

MMOs are still the most fascinating genre in video gaming. They represent the first time in human history where we started living portions of our lives, forming social bonds, in virtual spaces. But without the ability to make history they’re not living spaces, just theme parks. Which has dire consequences for both the health of the genre, its communities, and the beauty of online worlds.

In 100 years, nobody will care about the games we played in these theme park worlds, but they will care about the moments when humanity expressed itself in online worlds for the first time.

The chance to play in a theme park is boring. The chance to make history, on the other hand, is exciting.

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.

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.

WildStar: “We Can Fill the WOW Void”

Given how World of Warcraft has been THE juggernaut in the MMORPG arena for nearly a decade, it’s interesting to see other games now hopping on the “we’ll get their subscribers” bandwagon. While it’s true WOW lost a metric ton of subs this year already, the MMORPG market is incredibly saturated now and almost every big MMORPG in the West has gone F2P. Wildstar will have its work cut out for it in order to thrive in a highly competitive marketplace.

I’ve added a few screenies to the bottom of the article. Enjoy!

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The team behind NCsoft’s new MMO Wildstar says it will win back gamers who have abandoned World of Warcraft.

Blizzard’s market-leading MMO lost 1.3m subscribers between February and April this year, and many other titles in the sector have been forced to adopt a free-to-play model to survive.

But Carbine Studios’ game design producer Stephan Frost says Wildstar’s unique structure will ensure it succeeds where other MMOs have failed.

“We’re making something that’s different,” he told MCV.

“We’re coming out at a time when WoW is losing subscribers and we can fill the void for people who want an MMO that’s deep, hardcore but also accessible to people.

“We’ve found through betas and trade shows that MMO players understand our game. They can see the improvements we’ve made and notice that this game is something pretty cool.”

Wildstar’s gameplay varies depending on class: soldiers will focus on combat, while explorers will be tasked with discovering new areas. The game is due this year.

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Original MCVUK.com Article

Wildstar’s Official Website

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