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.

Overwatch dings up to 35M players ahead of quarterly financial report

Blizzard just announced that it’s just counted 35 million Overwatch players – not too shabby for a buy-to-play team shooter that started out by tossing half a dozen MMORPG development dev years down a drain. That ought to make investors happy – expect the next investor relations report in early November.

I’d love to give more info, but the #8 revenue PC game and #6 revenue console game in the world sent a press release with nothing else. So instead, we’ll compare it to some other big numbers lately: 10M have shown up for Fortnite’s free-to-play console battle royal mode, while PUBG’s sold 13M in the last couple of months.

Also, this guy speaks for everybody.

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The Daily Grind: How should studios solve the gaming-while-rural problem?

If you’ve ever read any of MOP’s Andrew’s coverage of Pokemon Go, you’ve probably noticed a recurring theme: One of his biggest pet peeves is that Niantic privileges urban players over everyone else. If you live far away from a large city, you’ll not only struggle to attend events there; you’ll suffer from a lack of hotspots, gyms, raid opportunities, and other players on the daily, and you’ll have to drive between far-flung destinations just to play. A studio obviously can’t fix a population weakness, but it surely could work harder to stop making game opportunities and rewards effectively dependent on where you live.

The same problem’s apparently cropped up in Hearthstone as Blizzard has begun incentivizing what are essentially player-hosted LAN-party events with an ultra-rare Nemsy cards, ostensibly in the service of community. I plugged my current address in and came up with no less than six events over the next month within 20 miles of my home – triple that if I am willing to drive up to 100 miles. But I live in a large city (6M metro area) in the midst of even more large cities. If I plug in my address from back when I lived in New Mexico, there are no events within 100 miles of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Zip. Nada. They don’t even make the top 50 list for metro areas in the US, but they’re the biggest for 300 miles in any direction where they are. And still nothing.

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The MOP Up: Speedrunning World of Warcraft (October 15, 2017)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Project Gorgon, Star Trek Online, BlessSkyforgeWakfuRobloxWar ThunderAionElite: DangerousNew DawnTravianAstroneer, and World of Warcraft, all waiting for you after the break!

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One Shots: Sea horsing around

When it comes to unusual ways for Massively OP readers to get around in MMORPGs, there seems to be no shortage of bizarre methods for getting from Point A to Point B. So why not an ocean creature that is known more for hanging about than keeping a dedicated commuter schedule?

“I really loved the free seahorse mount World of Warcraft gave my character when I started adventuring through the Vashj’ir undersea zone,” Mysecretid said. “You can’t use the seahorse mount anywhere but Vashj’ir, but it sure looks nice. Even the ornate bit and bridle design impressed me.”

I have to wonder if, when mounted, your character is thinking, “You know, this is just too ridiculous, even for this game. I really should say something to management.”

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Hearthstone changes triggers to help make the game more intuitive

With hundreds of cards designed at this point, Hearthstone matches are awash in a sea of effects and triggers that activate under certain conditions. With so much going on, it might be easy for players to get confused about the order of when and how spell effects happen, which is why the team is making a pair of small but crucial changes with the October update.

“We want cards to work the way that you guess they might—in other words, we want the game to work intuitively,” the team wrote. “So we want to be extra clear that this update isn’t a change in depth; instead, it’s one step in an ongoing effort improve Hearthstone’s mechanics.”

The two changes are that minions with the “after” keyword will only activate their effect if they’re in play at the time and in-play effects will no longer trigger in-hand effects. Confused? Gameplay Engineer Josh Durica walks you through these changes with in-game examples below.

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Blizzard sues alleged Overwatch clone, bans World of Warcraft cheaters

Gone are the days when Chinese companies could get away with ripping off games left and right: Blizzard is going after another one of these alleged copyright-violating piles of crap.

The game in question is mobile title Heroes of Warfare; Japanese publication PC Watch reports that Blizzard’s Chinese conglom and publisher NetEase are suing the the maker, demanding and apology, restitution, and removal from Apple’s appstore, on the grounds of IP violations in China.

Meanwhile, stop cheating, cheaters. Your day has come, as the studio has apparently begun another round of six-month bans to folks who use cheat tools. Stoppit.

And in happier Blizzard news… here’s the whole WoW dev team. The fluffy white dog on the left personally made the no-flying-in-Argus decision, we’ve been informed by the PR collie being hoisted over on the right.

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Massively Overthinking: Three-way RvR and ‘fair’ PvP in modern MMOs

MOP reader Sally Bowls is on a roll with the good questions lately! She lobbed us one this past weekend that seems a good follow-up to a comment thread discussion about the problems inherent in unregulated three-way factional PvP/RvR (and how a game like Camelot Unchained will regulate it). By way of example, she noted that a certain MMO griefer famously argued in favor of strategy that basically made the opponent not want to log in, using tactics like creating timesinks and hassles in a sandbox. “Should the dominant faction on a RvRvR server ‘camp’ the smallest to try to drive them off?” she wondered.

“If it’s about fair PvP, then that is anathema. But if you see the game as being about your faction being at war with other factions, then not doing your utmost to win that war is incompetence. Neither is bad design per se, just a conflict in understanding of the goals. And will Camelot Unchained really be RvR, doing everything legal for your realm to win? Or will it be about PvP battles, with the RvR rhetoric being more marketing fluff than von Clausewitz and Machiavelli? If camping a mine hurts your kill/death ratio but makes the opponent weaker due to hassles or crafting, is that winning or losing? Is an RvR game really about realms vs. realms or is it just another BG?”

I’ve pitched Sally’s comments to the team for consideration in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Is RvR just a more carebear-friendly way to market FFA PvP? Do you play RvR or factional PvP to win or to have fun, and how does that differ from a more open FFA sandbox? How would you design three-way factional PvP to keep people from quitting and stop griefing before it starts?

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SuperData: ‘The esports market has finally hit the mainstream’

In promotional materials associated with its new paid “Esports Scoreboard,” gaming anaylsis firm SuperData – known best to our audience for its monthly revenue charts – has declared that “the esports market has finally hit the mainstream.” Though the associated marketing report is paywalled, some of the public statistics in the reveal are actually of interest.

For example, the company runs down the top 10 e-sports games by viewership, with League of Legends coming in at the top as of August. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which recently blasted past 2M concurrent players and 15M sales, clocked in at #2, but expect that to rise in future editions as the game’s exploded even more since then. The firm argues that PUBG, unlike many of the MOBAs and shooters dominating the rankings, “stands out from competitors because players spend most of their time in stealth mode instead of intense shootuts, giving streamers time to interact with their viewers.”

Blizzard’s had a strong showing, too, with Hearthstone, Overwatch, and StarCraft II all in the top ten; SuperData notes that Overwatch in particular will benefit from the offseason of Dota 2 and LoL.

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Perfect Ten: Why no one should recommend World of Warcraft ever

Last week, MOP’s Justin (friend to man and beast alike) posted his list of MMOs he would recommend people play. It was a pretty good list! It wasn’t the list I would have written, but that’s why we’re separate people and not a single fused mass pulling ourselves along on withered, inhuman appendages. That would cause lots of problems in our respective marriages, for one thing. Also, it’d probably render us ineligible to collect multiple paychecks.

One thing I did not ask, however, was why he didn’t include World of Warcraft as a game he would recommend, even though some of our readers wondered it aloud. I would think that the reason for that would be pretty obvious, given that it was a list of Justin’s recommendations. But because I do love being contrary, there’s a good list of reasons why no one, ever, should recommend World of Warcraft as a game to be tried. Under any circumstances. Let’s even make it a nice round dozen reasons… but then subtract two, for no good reason.

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World of Warcraft Demon Hunter solos normal Gul’dan

A Demon Hunter should be able to kill demons. That’s their one job description, and so it should be no surprise that World of Warcraft’s Demon Hunters are actually very good at killing demons. But most of them are not nearly as good as Mione, a name you’ll find in no lore compilations who still deserves a nod for soloing normal-mode Gul’dan.

Yes, solo. As in “big boss of the second full raid of the expansion taken out by a single dedicated player.”

Obviously, gear has improved somewhat since Gul’dan’s release, but the fight (which is watchable in sped-up form below) still took over an hour to complete. “Doesn’t Gul’dan hit enrage at 12 minutes?” you ask. And you’re right, he does. He enrages, and Mione deals with that mechanic. Go ahead and watch the video, then check out the video description to see how this was accomplished, including waiting out the enrage. The notes do mention that the “real” fight (after the enrage happens and falls off) “only” took 27 minutes, which is… still insanely impressive.

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Daybreak is launching a pro league for H1Z1 e-sports

If you were wondering what Daybreak is up to as we have been, wonder no more: It’s been putting together a pro league for H1Z1, which it is now characterizing as a “groundbreaking survival battle royale game.”

“Daybreak Games has partnered with Twin Galaxies, whose new Pro League Division will establish the H1Z1 Pro League for Daybreak’s fast-paced, last-man-standing game, H1Z1. The goal of the league is to create a sustainable esports ecosystem in partnership with teams for the benefit of H1Z1 players, viewers, and League partners. Focused on a ‘player-first’ approach, the H1Z1 Pro League will include a guaranteed player minimum salary, team owner and player representation on the governance committee, along with a comprehensive Player Bill of Rights and a well-defined revenue sharing model. The H1Z1 Pro League will launch its inaugural season in early 2018.”

The studio says it’ll form the league around 15 teams of 5 players that will come together in live 75-person matches over two 10-week splits next year. “There will be no fees or buy-in costs for teams to take part in the league,” Daybreak notes, “and teams will be selected through an application process that will begin this fall.”

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Overwatch kicks off Halloween, hires for a new game possibly set in the Overwatch universe

Halloween – sorry, “Halloween Terror 2017” – is live for Overwatch players this week and runs through November. After all, come November 1st, spooky stuff is just weird, right? That’s Christmas season. Everyone knows that. Shut down the pumpkins and ghosts ASAP.

“Players can explore the haunted streets of Eichenwalde and Hollywood, expand their collection of Halloween seasonal cosmetics, and team up to fight the forces of evil in two PvE brawls—Junkenstein’s Revenge and the all-new Junkenstein Endless brawl featuring a different cast of heroes,” Blizzard says. Also lootboxes. “We’re also re-opening our crypt so players can unlock their favorite Halloween-themed items from last year along with over 50 new tantalizing treats, including legendary skins like Corsair Ana, Van Helsing McCree, Dragon Symmetra, and Cultist Zenyatta.”

In more tantalizing Overwatch news, PC Gamer noticed yet another job listing on the Blizzard site, this one for an artist to work on an unannounced project relating to Overwatch or at least requiring familiarity with the “Overwatch universe” specifically. Is it an intern developing marketing materials or another game set in the same universe – that first-person project that it’s been hiring for over the last year, perhaps? Or maybe – just maybe – Overwatch could be getting an MMO, bringing the whole franchise full circle.

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Junkrat is exploding into Heroes of the Storm

The parade of Overwatch characters porting straight over to Heroes of the Storm continues with the latest addition to the game, Junkrat. How does he play? Like Junkrat, that’s how. He throws around lots of bombs and makes things blow up and laughs at inappropriate times. That’s his whole deal, guys, it’s not like Overwatch has a rich narrative history to draw upon.

Oh, you were curious about mechanics? In that case you can hop down below and check out the preview video, that might be more straightforward.

Junkrat’s ability include the huge knockback of Concussion Mine (it can even fling people over terrain) and the bouncing explosive fun of Frag Grenades. If you’re familiar with the character in Overwatch, you’ll have a pretty clear picture of the general tone of his abilities if not the specifics; check out the preview before to see him blowing things up with style.

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