blizzard entertainment

Major gaming studio, responsible for World of Warcraft and the Warcraft franchise, Diablo III and the Diablo franchise, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch.

Battlenet's slow retirement, Overwatch toxicity, and Blizzard's legal history with 'modding'

Last night's update saw the end of the Battle.net branding on the Blizzard launcher. You probably shed your tears back in September, when the company first announced it was retiring the Battle.net name and replacing it with terms like Blizzard Streaming and Blizzard Voice. Now the platform for World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and the rest just says... Blizzard.

Speaking of Overwatch: Kotaku has a look at the shooter's new system for dealing with toxicity, currently getting a workout on the PTR. The current version has far more specific options for reporting other players, which may or may not lead to better reports and less abuse -- but Blizzard is making an effort.

And finally, Polygon has broken down Blizzard's history with modding and reverse engineering lawsuits, presumably for younger gamers or folks who aren't aware of World of Warcraft's diverse modding offerings. Anyone who's ever wondered why Blizzard cracks down on Bossland, who's wondered why the DMCA is so powerful, or who's curious about the legal precedent of the old-school bnetd case should take a look before armchair lawyering down in the comments.

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WoW Factor: The good and the bad of World of Warcraft's patch 7.2 date

Boy, this is a time I am glad to be wrong. I was outright worried that Blizzard was going to hold patch 7.2 for a much longer span of time, but no, it's hitting World of Warcraft on March 28th. That's good! It's still squarely aimed at trying to kneecap something else going on that same day, arguably, but at least it isn't being held for months. I'm going to count that as a good thing.

In fact, there's something very good baked into the announcement, something that's easy to miss. Of course, there's also something very bad baked in as well, or at least the hint of something bad, a thought I've stated before in passing but I haven't really elaborated on before. So today I want to examine both sides of this. Why this patch date makes me very happy and very worried at the same time. (Mostly the former, if you're wondering, but the latter is relevant.)

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Blizzard is raising prices for World of Warcraft and Hearthstone players in the EU

If you're playing World of Warcraft or Hearthstone overseas, know that a partial fee hike is in your future.

While subs to WoW and the WoW Token will remain as they are, the cost of admittedly already expensive services like faction swaps, name changes, and server transfers will increase in some cases by up to 25%.

A quick look at the math shows that the prices are now more in line with what U.S. players were already paying. Changes take effect on April 5th.

Blizzard told players it was making the "changes based on regional market conditions." PC Gamer calls it "likely a reaction to post-Brexit exchange rates that have gutted the value of the pound" and not helped the low euro. Let's throw in some color too: Reddit is less kind, calling it "profiteering," "absolutely disgusting," and "insanity."

The studio announced EU price increases for Hearthstone packs earlier this month.

Source: Blizzard, PC Gamer, Reddit. Thanks, Cotic!

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World of Warcraft's Patch 7.2 is coming next week

The hour is nearly upon us and we, we are not prepared. But we are pretty eager! This afternoon, World of Warcraft announced that Patch 7.2: The Tomb of Sargeras will be launching next Tuesday, March 28th.

This comes after a flurry of testing and dev diaries covering the patch's big features. Among these features are the new Broken Shore zone, the Cathedral of Eternal Night dungeon, challenge artifact skins, rebalanced legendaries, new traits, more order hall research options, and of course, a way to regain our flight privileges in this expansion cycle.

What isn't coming next week, however, is the titular Tomb of Sargeras raid, which will open at a later (unspecified) date. PvP season two is set to end on the 28th, with season three starting up right after. Check out the patch trailer after the break!

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Perfect Ten: Memories of an Anarchy Online noob

My initial foray into MMORPGs was, to put it nicely, quite ungraceful. I wasn't even aware that they were a thing until about the year 2000, when I started to notice EverQuest and Asheron's Call boxes on the shelves. But stories about addiction from friends and the seeming obtuse nature of these games kept me from trying... until fall 2001, that was.

That's when I saw a sci-fi title lumped together in this unknown category, and I had liked Funcom's The Longest Journey so much that I thought I'd take a chance on this odd online game. My subsequent experiences in Anarchy Online were fragmented, ignominious, and confusing as all get out. It was so weird, in fact, that I needed a "redo" of City of Heroes several years later to properly get onto the MMO bandwagon (and I haven't fallen off since!).

So what was it like being a total Anarchy Online -- and MMO -- noob back in the day, feeling out this game from a position of complete ignorance? Glad you asked, friend, because I'm going to tell you all about it.

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Rumor: Destiny 2 leak hints at September 8 launch

Reddit is buzzing this morning over posters uploaded across the internet that if legit -- and they do look legit -- seem to reveal a September 8th release date for Bungie's Destiny 2.

That revelation comports with Activision-Blizzard's last investor call in February, during which the companies said the game was on track for a fall 2017 rollout and would be catering to a "casual first-person experience."

The posters also suggest a June beta. Is everyone excited about watching the world chase this game and hearing people fight over whether it's an MMO? No? Yeah.

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Jukebox Heroes: Your favorite MMO themes, #18-13

Last week we were off to a great start as we listened to the first batch of player-voted favorite MMO themes. As I said then, the results of the voting, in which I asked players to nominate up to 10 of their favorite main themes from online games, were both predictable and surprising. Nostalgia and familiarity obviously play a strong role in many of these votes, but no one was asking for objectivity here!

Today we're going to continue our countdown to the top spot by looking at numbers 18 through 13 of your favorite MMO themes. I think there's a good mix here, perhaps with tunes that I would have placed a little higher, but overall it's gratifying to see each one of these make the list.

Enough jibber-jabber, let's get to it!

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Diablo III finally brings seasons to consoles

Remember how Blizzard told us that it just wasn't going to implement its Diablo III season campaigns for the game's console versions? A year later and it seems that either the studio had a change of heart or its technical wizards figured out how to make it happen because console seasons are about to kick off at the end of this month.

On March 31st, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will enjoy their very first seasonal journey in the game, offering players an opportunity to level up new characters to pursue special challenges. Players can either create a brand-new character from scratch for the season or choose to "rebirth" an existing character back to level 1 for the duration of the event.

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Three games you've never heard of: Lothgar Online, Little War Online, Age of Rivals

When I add news to our newsroom for our reporters to pick up, I often add links that just say "such-and-such a game exists" -- because just existing is what's new, or at least new to us. Today, we had three of those, and I'm combining them all for this quick look at three MMOs and orbiting games that you've probably never heard of: Age of Rivals, Lothgar Online, and Little War Online.

Lothgar Online

Lothgar Online (Asylumsoft) launched yesterday. Let me warn you upfront: If you aren't into retro pixel graphics and hardcore gameplay, you probably won't like this MMO. The devs, who are also the folks behind the similarly styled Elderlands, call it an "Online RPG built in a classic style, paying homage to 1980s RPGs," and yes, that means PvP, corpse looting, and attunement in addition to a giant world, guilds, skills, and questing. On the other hand? There's no cash shop either. Old school isn't always a bad thing! (via Reddit)
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Massively OP Podcast Episode 109: We are all Dragonborn

Roll for initiative! Bree and Justin are getting all kinds of nerdy with this week's show, in which they talk about Dragon-people, the return of a long-abandoned sci-fi game, a momentous anniversary, and the viability of sandbox MMOs.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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World of Warcraft is going to make you work hard for your pretty artifact skin

Are you chasing those bright and pretty artifact weapon skins in World of Warcraft? Even if you have assembled the whole set and can lord it over the neighborhood, your collection isn't quite complete.

In Patch 7.2, World of Warcraft is introducing a special "challenge appearance" for artifacts that should prove to be one of the most difficult skins to attain. The requirements are pretty steep, as you have to have maxed out your current artifact, be level 110, complete the Patch 7.2 artifact trait quest, build up the mage's tower at your order base, and then succeed at a solo challenge.

This challenge encounter comes in seven different varieties, based on your class build, and will probably kick your butt if you have anything less than the "best gear" and don't know how to play your class well. To complicate matters, while your first attempt at the challenge is free, subsequent tries will cost a chunk of nethershards. Good luck!

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The Soapbox: What the Mass Effect Andromeda kerfuffle ought to teach us about games criticism

Today is the official release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was preceded by the frankly baffling decision to allow people access to an early build of the game ahead of time. Or perhaps the final build without everything enabled? The point is that you could play a bit of it if you were willing to drop some money. That seems like a bad idea that we've been dealing with in online-game-land for a long time, but regardless, it gave people the opportunity to see some of this RPG ahead of time.

This, in turn, allowed the typical internet trolls to find any and all animation flubs and then happily declare that it was all the result of one woman working on the game and handling all of the animations. Which, you know, is a conclusion that would be helped significantly if the woman in question actually worked in that role on the game, which she did not.

Obviously, the game under discussion is not an MMO. But it is symptomatic of two all-too-common problems in gaming culture that are worth noting to people who do not have balls of spiders in place of a soul. So let's talk about those.

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Overwatch's Orisa is live today, Blizzard considers map editor

Tankbot Orisa is live in Overwatch today for those of you not too busy jacking into Andromeda. While she'll be accessible on all three platforms from the get-go, she won't be live in competitive play for a bit longer while players get used to her.

The PTR has also been testing victory condition tweaks and buffs for Lucio.

Enjoying the early March feature that let you tweak the settings on your game modes? Wouldn't a map editor be even better? That's something Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan says it's considering, but it's not in the immediate future:

"We are extremely open-minded about releasing a map editor for Overwatch someday. But because Overwatch was made with a brand new engine, this is not a small task or one which can happen any time soon. We have this on our long-term road map and believe heavily in user-made content. But there are many challenges ahead of us and it will be a very long road before our editor can be made available to the public."

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