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Reminder: Watch out for Mists of Pandaria beta invite scams

Email notifications for the Mists of Pandaria beta have started arriving in people's inboxes -- and this means that we'll likely see an upswing in beta invite scams, as well. If you have received an email stating that you've been invited to participate in the Mists beta, be aware of the following:
  • Don't click any link in the email. Blizzard will never ask you for your account information via email, nor will it usually provide any kind of link to click on.
  • Do head to Battle.net. Type the URL into your browser (don't follow a search or email link) and use the secure login on that page to log into your account.
If you have been invited for the first round of Mists beta, you will see your normal World of Warcraft: Cataclysm account listed under your game accounts -- and underneath that, you will see a listing for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Beta. If you do not see a link to the Mists of Pandaria beta under your game accounts, you are not in this round of testing, and the email you were sent was a fake.

The same applies with beta keys as well. If you receive a notification with a beta key, do not click on any links in the email. Go to your Battle.net account as listed above, head to Manage My Games, choose Add or Upgrade a Game, and manually enter the beta key. If the beta key works, you're in; if it doesn't work, you may have been the recipient of a fake key.

Remember, any time there is a beta or a trial period for a new game, there will usually be an upswing in attempts to nab accounts, too. Keep your account safe -- and if you made it in the beta, have fun!

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Account Security, Mists of Pandaria

StarCraft II beta is live. Beware of scams!

People are getting actual StarCraft II beta invites, but that doesn't mean that all beta invites (or any other emails that look like they are from Blizzard) are real. If you got an email saying that you have been invited to StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, don't click anything in that email. Instead take the following steps:
  • Type battle.net into your browser (no typos) and it will go to the secure battle.net site appropriate to your region.
  • Enter your account info.
  • Under Manage My Games, choose Add or Upgrade a Game.
  • Enter the Beta Key provided in the email where it says Enter Game Key.
  • Press Add Game.
If you are able to successfully add the game to your library, then you received a real beta invite. If the email tells you to go someplace else for the beta key or the key provided did not work, then you received a phishing email.

Read more →

Filed under: Blizzard, Account Security

Chinese Warcraft casemod is awesome


A few things about this Warcraft-flavored PC casemod, seen over on this Chinese website. First: it's awesome. Warcraft art is faithfully recreated, and as you can see, there's a nice Horde montage on one side, Alliance on the other, and the Dark Portal sitting right there in front. Second: it's probably pretty old -- most of that art is from the game's original release four years ago.

So it's probably not exactly the latest and greatest in Warcraft PC designs (though it might be a little later than the ghost train pirate art). But still, it looks great. And I definitely wouldn't mind wandering around Azeroth on that rather than my current gigantic black tower of a PC.

Update: Turns out the case is for sale. That is, if you want to spend $299 on a case.

[via Technabob]

Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Human, Orcs, Mage, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, NPCs, Galleries

Peggle: WoW Edition released as a standalone download

There's Peggle the original PC game, Peggle the XBLA game, Peggle the iPhone game, Peggle: Steam edition, and Peggle the WoW addon, and so when I heard rumblings of "Peggle: WoW edition," I just figured people were talking about one of the many, many already-released versions of PopCap's popular Plinko-inspired pasttime. But no -- the folks at PopCap have released another version of Peggle: Peggle World of Warcraft edition is a standalone, free (PC-only) download that allows you to play a WoW-related version completely outside of World of Warcraft.

All that make sense? It sounds like PopCap realized that there was a call for a brand new version of Peggle (including new stages, WoW-related backgrounds, and even a secret easter egg between Arthas and Bjorn the unicorn) that was different enough to stand as its own PC game, so they worked their coding magic and put it all together into a downloadable standalone. And much to the lament of Mac gamers everywhere, it's PC-only.

But then again, it's free, it's Peggle, and so if you haven't gotten your Peggle fix through any of the aforementioned channels yet, here's the hit you've been waiting for. If you do the math (and chart the number of Peggle versions over time), we're pretty sure that, soon, all games will be Peggle. And strangely enough, we're kind of OK with that. Peggle is really fun.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends

New computer shipped with malware that targeted WoW

Here's a big oops -- a company named M&A Technology accidentally shipped out a unit of their Companion Touch PC that contained some malware on it, including a password stealer that targeted World of Warcraft. It was an accident -- apparently someone at the factory decided to upgrade the computer's drivers and software before shipping it out, but they used a USB stick that had been infected with the bad apps, and thus in the process infected the brand new computer. Fortunately, the person who received the computer apparently scanned and caught the bad code before any damage was done -- I guess if you buy a computer from a brand you've never heard of, it's worth giving it an antivirus and malware scan at least once before you use it.

And/or you can just use an authenticator -- even if someone nabs your password, the Blizzard Authenticator makes sure that they can't log in without a current code. So there's not too much to worry about here -- while computers do occasionally get shipped with software that could jeopardize your security, as long as you're vigilant about what's on your hard drive, and take caution before using apps and hardware that you've never used before, you generally won't have any problems.

[via WoW LJ]

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Hardware

The limits of Video Mode Ultra


I think I've found the limits of Video Mode Ultra -- when we first hard in the 3.1 patch notes that Blizzard was adding in a superspecial video mode for high-end computers to use, I was excited. I just recently "updated" my PC (read: "it broke and I had to spend a lot of time and money to fix it"), and it's been running like butter, so I was interested in putting it to the test. The day after the patch dropped, I flipped the switch to Ultra, and had no problems -- until this past Saturday. While wandering around Dalaran, I noticed my framerate had dropped quite a bit. I lowered a couple of the environmental settings just a bit and I was fine again, but apparently even with a 2.5 GHz quad core CPU, 4gb of RAM, and a GeForce 9600GT, Video Mode Ultra is still just a little too hardcore for me.

What's interesting is that I ran Wintergrasp a few times before having those slowdowns in Dalaran, and never had a problem. But then again, Blizzard did say that they had spent a lot of time making sure Wintergrasp was streamlined enough to run huge battles with minimal slowdown, so maybe Dalaran didn't get that same makeover. And I should say as well that I had no issues anywhere else in the world -- even my Naxx run the other evening looked perfect with Ultra flipped on.

Having a "future" graphics mode on PC games is nothing new -- for most games, the highest graphics setting is usually "experimental," so there's a little leeway in terms of release time (the game looks good with current hardware, but even better with next year's gear). And Video Mode Ultra is just that -- Blizzard trying to send a shot across the bow at those who are already saying the graphics look a little dated.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Hardware

Activision passes on PC Gaming Alliance membership

It could be pretty easily argued that Blizzard is one of the biggest PC gaming development houses in the business today -- they consistently own both the sales charts and the playtime stats in terms of PC gaming. But Activision-Blizzard has quietly confirmed that they've passed on a membership to the PC Gaming Alliance, a group that claims to be "the authoritative voice on PC gaming worldwide." Activision, for their part, says that they just couldn't justify the membership fee, and this isn't the first industry group that they've snubbed: they famously left the ESA and their big yearly conference at E3 last year.

The PCGA claims that this isn't a big setback -- despite this and a few other losses, they say their numbers have grown, and they cite a few other big still-members, including Microsoft, Nvidia, and Intel. But given how much of an influence Activsion-Blizzard is in PC gaming, it's hard to say you're the "authoritative voice" of the platform when you don't have any formal connection to the biggest developer/publisher in the industry.

What does this mean to us players? Probably nothing right now -- the PCGA is right: the loss of Activision probably won't affect their work at all. But Blizzard, for better or worse, is being steered by Activision away from the industry at large. Right now, with events like BlizzCon and a huge reputation of their own, they don't need to be tied into these industry groups. But that may not always be the case.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, BlizzCon

Blizzard's hate (/love?) relationship with consoles

Rumors are bubbling up from GDC '09 that Blizzard is finally considering consoles again for their future games. Blizzard seems to have a hate/hate relationship with consoles -- despite the fact that they started out with some extremely popular console games (Lost Vikings was one of the best games on the Sega Genesis), they've become very solidly a PC gaming company in the past few years. Sure, they released Starcraft 64 and the Playstation port of Diablo, but since Starcraft: Ghost left a bad taste in their mouths, they've stayed away from the console market (and some might say that's saved the PC market).

The main problem, says Rob Pardo, is one of control: console controllers just don't have the flexibility to do what Blizzard wants to do with their games. "If I were them," he told the press, "I'd be sitting around trying to figure out what's a cool new input device that supports all types of new kinds of games." And he also hinted that he might be trying to do just that -- Blizzard is apparently in talks with Microsoft, not to develop for this generation of consoles, but to help them advance to the next generation. This is a little more than just Diablo III on the Xbox 360 (though that's definitely a possibility) -- it's Blizzard possibly getting the chance to bring what they love about PC gaming to the next console generation.

Heady stuff. Blizzard doesn't need to do anything these days, of course -- if they want to take their next sequel and release it in, say, three separate parts, they can do that and it will likely still be a hit. But if they want to set their sights on innovating in the console space, we'll probably all benefit.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, Hardware

WotLK cinematic picks up Elan award nomination


Throw another nomination on the list for Wrath of the Lich King -- Blizzard's cinematic team has been nominated for an Elan award for the WotLK cinematic in the category of Best Animated Short Subject. And the nom is well deserved: while the trailer broke with the tradition of showing the various races and classes of Warcraft doing battle with each other, Blizzard's choice to instead recap the story of Arthas and the Lich King while he summoned Sindragosa worked well and looked amazing.

Unfortunately, Blizzard missed out in the actual game nominations -- for best PC game, the expansion was overshadowed by Fallout 3, Crysis Warhead, Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria, and Left 4 Dead. You can argue amongst yourselves whether that's justified or not. But we're sure Blizzard is happy with the animation nomination anyway -- their competition there is Turbo Dogs, so they'll probably do fine when the awards are announced on April 25th.

[via BlizzPlanet]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Contests, Wrath of the Lich King, Achievements

WoW Rookie: Will my computer run WoW?

New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the resources they need to get acclimated. Send us a note to suggest a WoW Rookie topic.

Playing WoW is no fun at all if your system doesn't cut the mustard. If you've just started playing on hardware of questionable power, you may believe you're clicking along just fine -- only to watch your frame rate come to a grinding halt the first time you're faced with a raid or Battleground full of players moving, casting and otherwise wreaking havoc (to both the game environment and your system).

Lots of players start out playing WoW on hand-me-down computer systems. In fact, the spouse who starts playing on an old hunk o' junk, only to become hooked and then upgrade to a hotter rig than that of the established player, has become something of a gaming cliché. The thing to remember here is that a system that will run WoW will not provide the same enjoyment as a system that runs it well.

Read more →

Filed under: Features, WoW Rookie, Hardware

Troubleshooting dynamic shadows on OS X and Windows

This forum thread, about the new shadow technology appearing on the Mac in 3.0.2, is confusing. There are four Blue responses in the first 10 posts, and at the end of it, I still don't have a clear idea of whether shadows work on the Mac or not. The issue seems to be this: shadows do work on the Mac, but not the highest quality shadows. Why? Because while Windows uses DirectX to do its 3D processing, OS X still uses OpenGL. And while shadows do work in OpenGL (and eventually can work just as well in OpenGL), Blizzard needs Apple to put some extensions in which aren't there yet, so the highest quality shadows aren't yet possible.

Did your eyes glaze over from all that tech talk? Let's make it simple: if you're on Windows or OS X and you don't see shadows, odds are that your settings are wrong. Open up Video settings in game, and slide the Shadows slider all the way to the right as far as it will go, and then escape out and see if Shadows appear. Note, however, that this will slow your computer down, and as we said earlier today, older computers might have trouble doing this. If you're running an older PC or Mac, you may have to forget about the dynamic shadows completely.

That said, according to the Blues, with the shadow slider flipped all the way up on a PC and a Mac, the PC's shadows will look a little better. That's not a limitation of your computer (or of Blizzard's designers), it's a limitation of the technologies that Blizzard is using to make the game. When OpenGL (the code that allows game makers like Blizzard to draw 3D graphics within OS X) gets updated, then we'll see some higher quality shadows.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Guides

Hardware check before WotLK

All right, so not only are the system requirements out for Wrath, but new MacBooks came out yesterday as well, and we're just now heading into the holiday season. So now might be a great time to do a hardware check on your computer, and see how it stacks up to how you'll be playing WoW.

So here's a quick look at who will be able to run what where in the future. Keep in mind that Blizzard is extremely kind on system requirements -- they design their games to run on almost anything (which is one reason why they have so many fans), so odds are pretty good that if you run WoW well now, you'll run it well after Wrath (though you may also have to tweak the ingame video settings a bit, and you may not get the benefit of the cool graphical touches they're adding in). But if you do want to upgrade the way you see the game, there are a few things you can do, from upgrading a few parts to getting a whole new computer.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Wrath of the Lich King, Hardware

GotGame tries to bring a browser and social networking inside Azeroth


The folks at GotGame kindly sent us a note about their new service -- they're running a "closed beta" (which just means you have to sign up for it, but they're increasing the number of people in it each week) of some software that will let you actually crack open a web browser ingame, with some social networking services attached (so you can keep track of your friends in the service and what they're playing).

You can see some screenshots of how it works in the gallery below. Personally, I've never been too big a fan of any of the "cross-game" social networking services (Xfire is a really popular one that we've talked about before, and a friend invited me to Raptr as well recently), mostly because I already know what my gaming friends are playing, and I've got enough social services running to distract me from my work anyway. And while an ingame browser is kind of nice (EVE Online actually has one built-in to the game), my own browser is already just an alt-tab away (and I've always got Lightheaded when I just need to pull up some game help). It's nice that this one works in more than just World of Warcraft, but really, why bother playing anything else?

So the GotGame software didn't really strike a chord with me, but maybe if your friends are already on it, and you're looking for a more robust ingame browser, it's just what you need. Get Adobe Air installed, and then you can try getting into the beta on their website. Any other ingame browsers that you guys use regularly or, like me, do you prefer that things outside the game stay there?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, News items, Screenshots

Blizzard's black ops title, and why it's a long way off


Our good friends at BigDownload have just posted a nice in-depth feature about all the "black ops" PC games being worked on -- that is, games that are being developed in secret by developers who haven't yet officially announced them. There are quite a few would-be WoW competitors on the list (BioWare's MMO is on there, which I like to think I officially uncovered, and unnamed MMOs from John Romero's Slipgate Ironworks, 38 Studios, and Bethesda's parent Zenimax Media are on there as well). But of course the biggest title on the list is also the most mysterious: we know that Blizzard is working on a "next-gen MMO," but we don't know thing one about it.

As with all of this "black ops" stuff, there's not too much to get excited about yet -- the reason these companies haven't officially announced any of these games is not only because their release is likely years off, but companies will very often develop games that they don't end up releasing at all (case in point, as Blizzard fans well know). So the reason we don't know anything about Blizzard's next MMO is because Blizzard likely doesn't know anything about it yet either -- will it be a successor to World of Warcraft, a much-awaited Starcraft MMO, or a completely new IP from the company that has conquered the MMO genre? Odds are that right now they're working on engine and code mechanics, and the final form that the project will take is just a gleam in a Blizzard employee's eye.

Still, it's fun to dream, isn't it? With the coming release of Wrath (and Diablo III and Starcraft II coming into focus), we've got plenty of Blizzard games to look forward to as it is.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard

BlizzCon '08: The Game updated


You may remember BlizzCon '08: The Game, the fanmade Flash game by Toneslice that came out of the BlizzCon ticket chaos last week. Toneslice originally promised that if he got a certain number of views, he'd update it to be a better game, and he got more than that, so he completely revamped it. Now, you play as the Fail SCV, and you have to shoot Blizzard fans coming in all directions (who are strangely shooting back at you). The game's a fun little distraction, and just another example of something cool coming out of the problems last week.

Unfortunately, unlike Blizzard's games, it's still only for PC, but a Mac version may be on the way soon. Fanmade games about a game company -- what will they think of next?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, NPCs, BlizzCon

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