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.

WildStar: Producer Says F2P Model Not Dead; F2P “Not A Magic Bullet” (PCGamesN.com)

It seems like such a waste of effort to have to explain why you’re NOT going Free 2 Play for a new AAA MMORPG.

Two years ago, the gaming community turned up their noses at F2P declaring an MMORPG had “failed” and was “worthless” if it swapped to that business model, let alone if that was the business model at launch. “Pay 2 Win” was freely associated with most every F2P game. Even now, there are quite a few MMORPGs that still have subscription models in some format: WoW, EVE, EverQuest II, RIFT (you can still subscribe for extras), TERA (same thing as RIFT), SWTOR (tons of bonuses for subscribing), FFXIV:ARR, and Elder Scrolls Online (launching next year), to name several.

I find it odd that gamers now expect F2P for AAA MMORPGs at launch? If it’s a good game, I have no issue subscribing for $15 a month. If it’s F2P and not P2W, I have no issues paying $15-$20 a month via cash shop items.

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Not Jeremy Gaffney.

We’ve talked a couple of times to Carbine Studios’ Jeremy Gaffney in the last few months. He’s currently promoting his promising subscription MMO, Wildstar, and on each occasion he’s made the same broad point: in the massively-multiplayer market, things are not necessarily as they seem.

“Games that look very successful in free-to-play may or may not be making profit,” he told us most recently. And then added, cryptically: “Games that look unsuccessful in subscription may actually be more profitable.”

“Different games with different business models work in a very different fashion,” he said of his new game’s chances in a bustling field. “If you look at City of Heroes [which Gaffney produced] compared to Guild Wars, it looks like City of Heroes is a smaller game.

“And it is, fewer people play City of Heroes, they peaked out at – I don’t know the numbers – something like 200,000. But 200,000 subscribers paying $15 a month, if you do the math, that makes about as much money as selling 6 million boxes, if they last long enough.”

Gaffney cited a “couple of reasons” for Carbine’s decision to steer clear of free-to-play for Wildstar. Both lie in the “variability” of the payment model.

“There’s variability as a player because you don’t know if you’re going to get sucked in and pay $1,000 a month, because some people do. As a publisher it’s a juggling act because most the games I’ve seen end up devolving to the point that 1 or 2% of the players are paying $100 or more a month and they’re actually funding most of the free players, which can be up to 70 – 80% playing completely for free.

“As a publisher [that variabililty] can be distracting because when you’re making money you never know when that’s going to go away. As a player it’s distracting because generally you have a very different experience if you’re playing for free – and if not, then why the hell pay?

“So free-to-play’s not a magic bullet.”

Instead, Carbine have adopted an Eve-like business model: CREDD. Players can buy CREDD items for real-world money from the developers, and trade them with a second group of players for in-game gold. This second group can then cash in their CREDD for game time and, if they’re earning enough gold, play the game for free indefinitely.

“A bunch of games have done similar systems,” said Gaffney on the system’s inspiration. “Eve’s is probably the most popular and the best known. So many people don’t know what PLEX is and so it’s tough to describe. It’s such an efficient way of taking players that want to pay a lot, who want to put extra money in the game, and then that directly funds other players game time and so it’s a lot more direct.

“So essentially one set of players create their time, [another] use money to pay for the sub, and it’s a win-win and it pisses off gold farmers because it’s a legal source of trading gold with other players and so gets in the way of gold farmers.

“And we like pissing off gold farmers, too.”

Hear hear. But what do you make of Gaffney’s assessment of the MMO market? This is a man who’s been around since Asheron’s Call, so tread respectfully.

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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Mechari 02

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

Blizzard Confirms “Large Design & Technology Changes for Titan”

If you’re somewhat curious like I am about this epic new game Blizzard’s been working on for a few years now, here’s the latest. Basically they decimated the current dev team and reassigned them until the game could be updated to jive with the latest and greatest in-house tech. Given the game’s been playable for over two years now, it seems like a “last minute” change to me. Most MMORPGs are in development for four or more years and they really don’t update tech like this during that time. Maybe they’re much closer to launch than anyone expected?

http://www.gamespot.com/news/blizzard-confirms-large-design-and-technology-changes-for-titan-6408997

Developer confirms World of Warcraft follow-up undergoing major overhaul.

Blizzard Entertainment has issued a statement regarding yesterday’s claimthat its World of Warcraft follow-up–codenamed Titan–was being sent back to the drawing board.

 “We’ve always had a highly iterative development process, and the unannounced MMO is no exception. We’ve come to a point where we need to make some large design and technology changes to the game,” the company said in a statement to Kotaku.

“We’re using this opportunity to shift some of our resources to assist with other projects while the core team adapts our technology and tools to accommodate these new changes,” the statement goes on. “Note that we haven’t announced any dates for the MMO.”

Yesterday’s report claimed the Titan development team was cut from 100 to 30, with the 70 displaced staffers not let go, but rather reassigned to other projects inside the company. The report also suggested Titan would not be brought to market before 2016.

Blizzard Entertainment has been at work on Titan for years now. The game was playable more than two years ago, with company COO Paul Sams singing its praises thoroughly.

“We’re playing it already. It is a total ball to play,” Sams said at the time. “We think that the reach of that product is greater than anything that we’ve done before. We’re very excited about that. I believe that it’s the type of game that will have a very long life, much like World of Warcraft has.”

Blizzard Entertainment’s current MMO, World of Warcraft, is the biggest subscription-based MMO on the market. It launched in 2004 and had 8.3 million subscribers at the end of March, down from a peak playerbase of 12 million in 2010.

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