Blizzard to Release ‘Minimum’ of 2 Games in 2012, if None in 2011

Posted on February 10, 2011

If you’ve been saving up your pennies for Diablo 3 or StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, don’t smash the piggy bank just yet. At its Q4 2010 earnings call, Activision said it is unable to confirm the release of any Blizzard titles this year, but that could mean two or more for 2012.

“Because Blizzard Entertainment has not yet confirmed the launch date for its next global release,” said CFO Thomas Tippl, “our outlook at this time does not include a new game from Blizzard in 2011. Should we not release a major title from Blizzard this year,…


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Blizzard strike back at World of Warcraft gold farmers

Posted on January 31, 2011

Blizzard are using Paypal to take on gold farmers, using the money transfer service to deliver warnings to suspected offenders. Gold farmers could find their Paypal accounts suspended as a result.

Gold farmers play World of Warcraft exclusively to earn gold, which is then sold for real money to those who don’t have the time or inclination to earn their own fortune. There’s so much profit to be made from gold farming that an industry has grown around it. Organisations in China have turned gold farming into a business, making money from Blizzard’s virtual currency. now Blizzard are hitting back through the popular online payment system, Paypal. Suspected gold farmers will soon be receiving the following message through the service:

“You were reported to PayPal as an Intellectual Properties violation by Blizzard Entertainment Inc. for the sale of World of Warcraft Merchandise. If you feel your sales do not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of the Reporting Party, please complete the attached Objection to Infringement Report by January 21, 2011. The completed form should be faxed to the attention of the Acceptable Use Policy Department at [number removed] or emailed to [email removed]. Should you choose not to object to the report, you will be required to remove all World of Warcraft Merchandise from the website [url removed] in order to comply with the Acceptable Use Policy.”

The use of Paypal could then be revoked for offenders. With many gold farmers based outside of the US, attacking them through Paypal is easier that using the courts. While Paypal is convenient, it’s by no means the only way to buy things on the internet, but it’s good to see Blizzard taking on the problem.

[via WoW Insider]

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Blizzard Talks About The Lead-Up To The Biggest World Of Warcraft Expansion Yet

Posted on November 25, 2010

Even if you don’t play World of Warcraft, chances are you’ve heard something about the quickly approaching Cataclysm expansion, the third and largest paid update for the popular MMO. Whether it’s been Andy, Adam, and I gabbing about the beta on Respec Radio or a passing news story here or there, Cataclysm is huge news. Not only does it add two new races and content for the new level 85 cap, but a patch released Tuesday reshaped all of the zones from the original World of Warcraft release back in 2004, effectively taking the streamlined storytelling and quest techniques that Blizzard perfected in subsequent expansions and applying it to the original two continents and all of the level 1-60 content.

Just days before this major patch hit, I talked to World of Warcraft lead systems designer Greg Street about the massive changes in store for Cataclysm, what Blizzard has learned from Wrath of the Lich King, and where they’re looking to go in the future.

How long ago did you come up with the concept for Cataclysm? At what point did you realize that you wanted to remake the whole old world.

Before Wrath of the Lich King had even shipped, we started talking about what we want to do next. We had a lot of ideas around the Deathwing idea, which came up pretty quickly along with thinking we should change the world a little bit. We were initially going to focus a little bit more outside of Eastern Kingdom or Kalimdor, but the more we talked about it, we realized that the quest designers, the level designers, and the item designers were all really jazzed about was trying to fix some of this old stuff that wasn’t really competing anymore with the newer content we delivered in Wrath.

Were there ever any conversations that you had about how insane an idea that was? The undertaking of going back and changing all of that old content…

Oh, totally. The naïve thing we did is that we categorized every zone as green, yellow, or red. Red ones were total redo, yellow ones were some quest flow redesign, and green ones we basically wouldn’t touch. Everything ended up red by the end. [Laughs]

Looking at that huge amount of content that’s in vanilla World of Warcraft, how did you start sorting through that and deciding what to cut? I find it really interesting that you’re not just adding in new quests, but you’re cutting out lots of content that didn’t make sense or didn’t really work.

Yeah, for some of the zones, it’s like we just deleted everything and started all over.

So how did you figure out what to focus on with cuts?

It depended a lot. There were some zones we thought never worked very well in the first place. Hinterlands, for example, never had much of a story going on. Zones like Darkshore and Ashenvale had some interesting content, but the zones themselves were too big and didn’t flow well, so there was a lot of running back and forth. For some of the zones where the questing wasn’t bad, we just kind of reflowed and stuck a few new graveyards and a few new quest hubs in. So some areas, you’ll be doing the same quests, but you won’t be doing as much running back and forth as you did in the old days.

I know one example I’ve heard brought up of old world quests that don’t work very well – I think it was possibly even by you in a presentation – was the “Green Hills of Stranglethorn.” Is that quest still in the game?

It’s really funny, if you want me to spoil it.

Go ahead.

The quest is in the game, but now you only have to get a single page. [Laughs] It’s page 17.

I was curious to see what you did with that, because I remember it being brought up.

I think the questgiver even says something like, “Other adventurers have collected all of the pages for us but one.”

Clearly Cataclysm was a huge undertaking, but so much of the focus seems on remaking the old world, and the level cap is only going up by five levels. Are you worried about adding in less end-game content than in the previous expansions?

We would worry about that except that we’ve added a lot more end-game content than we’ve done in the past.


Yeah, particularly in the dungeon and raid end. I think there’s nine dungeons, but I’d have to count quick. We added in heroic versions of Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep late in the cycle, just squeezed those in. There’s also three raid zones. And rated battlegrounds as well. We’ve added a lot of stuff there.

We also spent a little more time on the very final zones, Uldum and Twilight Highlands, to make sure that the stories there drive to completion, and there are rewards there. We found that some people in Wrath of the Lich King would hit Storm Peaks and think, “I’m max level now, so I’m going to jump into dungeons.” They never really finished the stories in Storm Peaks or Icecrown. We made sure this time that the quest rewards you get are competitive with dungeons to make sure players finish the stories out.

One of the problems people had with finishing the quest content in Wrath of the Lich King is that Icecrown, while it was an incredibly epic, very awesome zone, had troubles with how phasing worked in it. When you got into some of those later quests, a lot of them were group quests, but you’d run into problems where if other people in your guild weren’t in the same leg of the quest as you, they couldn’t help out, because they’re in a different phase of the zone. It made finding a group to help out more difficult than normal. How are you approaching that with the endgame zones?

Phasing was a new feature for us in Wrath of the Lich King. When you have a new hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. We were putting it anywhere we possibly could and definitely overdid it in some areas. I feel like our use of it in Cataclysm is much more judicious. I don’t think there’s anything in Twilight Highlands, which is the final zone, where you have phasing that would prevent players from grouping together. The phasing in that zone is early on as you’re sent into the zone to establish a beachhead for the Alliance or the Horde. You get that home base established, and from then on you’re good to go. Once players players get into the zone, they should be able to group up and kill all the dragons they’re going to have to fight to complete that zone.

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Blizzard Introduces Dial-In Authenticator For Battle.Net

Posted on November 10, 2010

Many World of Warcraft players have become used to using authenticators, little keychain-looking devices that give randomly generated numbers allowing you to log into your account securely. There’s also an authenticator app available for the iPhone, and now Blizzard has revealed a new way to keep your account safe.

Blizzard’s new dial-in authenticator system will let you to call the publisher from a specific phone line in order to finish logging in. If you sign up, you won’t be required to call every time you log in to a Blizzard game; the service will only request a phone call if there’s something strange about the login attempt, such as if you’re signing in from a different computer than usual.

The service is optional and completely free, of course, although currently it only works for World of Warcraft and general Battle.Net services, not StarCraft II. For more details, check out Blizzard’s dial-in authenticator FAQ page.

The dial-in service definitely seems a bit strange, but it’s nice to see Blizzard continuing to take steps to make accounts secure for as many people as possible. Anyone who’s been through one (or many more) guild bank robberies due to someone losing access to their account will surely agree.

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StarCraft II Custom Games — Blizzard Offers Four New Game Modes

Posted on October 23, 2010

Today at BlizzCon, the creative folks behind many of your favorite StarCraft II levels and maps announced a few new custom-created modes developed entirely with the game’s editor. These new game modes included:

StarCraft II Custom Games -- Blizzard Offers Four New Game Modes

Left 2 Die

A clever play on Left 4 Dead, this similarly titled mode adds the one thing to StarCraft that you’ve no doubt always wanted: zombies. Co-op is key here as you try to survive during both day and night cycles. Destroying super zombies or infested structures will earn you Zerg Biomass which’ll aid in beefing up your character’s arsenal. With a full intro cinematic, this mode will feature a full-on story and four difficulty levels.

StarCraft II Custom Games -- Blizzard Offers Four New Game Modes

Aiur Chef

A spin on the Iron Chef phenomenon, you’ll be tasked — cute little chef’s hat, metal pan and all — with tracking down the necessary ingredients for a given recipe. The only catch? Those ingredients are currently in the possession of enemy forces. So set out into the world, battle the baddies, and return with the delicious spoils required to feed your troops!

StarCraft II Custom Games -- Blizzard Offers Four New Game Modes


A cross between Bejeweled and StarCraft, Starjeweled will task players with manipulating a typical Bejeweled board by battling opponents in the usual RTS fashion. Casual gaming meets hardcore RTS warfare.

StarCraft II Custom Games -- Blizzard Offers Four New Game Modes

Blizzard DOTA

A StarCraft version of the well regarded WarCraft mod, Blizzard DOTA features 5-on-5 PvP with 12 classes based upon classic Blizzard heroes. With tons of items and upgrades, you’ll have to power up your character to defeat your enemies and control their base.

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Hands-On: Blizzard DotA, Left 2 Die, Starjeweled & Aiur Chef

Posted on October 23, 2010

Blizzard’s homages to Defense of the Ancients, Left 4 Dead and Bejeweled are playable, fun, and (best of all) free.

View Article (The Escapist –

Trailers: Diablo 3: Demon Hunter

Posted on October 23, 2010

Blizzard reveals the 5th class for Diablo 3, the Demon Hunter.

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Blizzard Does The Right Thing, Makes RealID Completely Optional

Posted on October 01, 2010

In a statement on the WoW forums earlier today, a Blizzard community rep noted a few changes that just went live with the company’s RealID system, which allows players to connect with each other across multiple Blizzard games and servers via sharing their real names.

The long-awaited ability to opt out of the “friends of friends” feature is finally in, so you can prevent your real name from being visible to anyone who shares a RealID friend with you.

Players can also turn off RealID in its entirety if they so choose.

While RealID can be a real benefit (har, har) to some gamers, many have voiced their concerns over the system’s until-now poor protection of their online identity. We salute Blizzard for making RealID a choice, not a requirement to play its games.

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Why Blizzard Didn't Change StarCraft II Multiplayer

Posted on September 17, 2010

Last week I had a chance to speak with Blizzard lead designer Dustin Browder about the process behind creating StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. During our discussion of the game’s multiplayer, I felt like I had to ask him to address one of the few complaints I’ve heard about the game — that the multiplayer is too similar to the first game.

I started by asking Browder if he felt like Blizzard even had a choice in changing StarCraft II’s multiplayer, given the original’s long-lasting popularity as a competitive game. According to him, they did:

“I don’t know that we ever felt like we couldn’t do something new if we really wanted to. It was more a question of what did we want to do, and we felt like there was more we could do in this space, that there was more opportunity for us to improve on what had already been done.”

What about more recent RTS games that have tried mixing up the formula? Browder said that these experiments need not change Blizzard’s design philosophy, because they haven’t been nearly so successful. In his words:

“I don’t want to seem nasty here, but the question is, how great have those successful ‘experiments’ from other developers been? I haven’t really seen another gameplay experience that’s attracted millions of players with hundreds of thousands playing online. I haven’t seen that. So the idea that these other experiments have been successful, and therefore we must emulate them? I object, sir. I object strenuously. I have not seen someone else be successful by removing economy. I have not seen other RTSes be successful by removing micro.

“What a lot of other games have done is they’ll pull the camera back and say, ‘Look, it’s all economy now.’ Or they’ll push the camera in and say, ‘It’s all micro; economy’s dead.’ And they’ll say, ‘See! We’ve made it better!’ I have to strongly disagree. I definitely enjoy those games, but I don’t know that they’re ultimately a better competitive RTS experience. They’re different, and that difference has a value in the sense that for the three weeks that I’m playing it, it feels new and shiny. But then when I get down to it, I realize that there’s actually less to do. I don’t play it for weeks or months.

“I don’t know if StarCraft II can survive that test of time. I don’t want to say that we can. We’re certainly going to try. That’s what we set out to do in the first place, to definitely improve on what had already been there and not just change for the sake of change. Like I said, I don’t want to be a jerk, but I feel like a lot of other studios have changed just for the sake of change. They haven’t made a better product, they’ve just made a product that is different.”

Browder reiterated later in the conversation that Blizzard didn’t “mess around with it for the sake of messing around with it.”

Check back on Game Informer over the weekend for more from my talk with Browder, or check in on Sunday to read the full StarCraft II Afterwords interview.

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