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Posts with tag australia

Blizzard fixing GAME Australia's mess, giving Diablo 3 to those who preordered

GAME Australia (a large video game retailer) is entering voluntary administration, which is the same as going into bankruptcy in the United States. Included in this fact is that GAME will not be giving Diablo III to all those who preordered it. To add salt to the wound, GAME will also not be offering refunds for Diablo III preorders -- or rather, it will, but only after practically every other person under the sun is paid back, and only then if people specifically file as an unsecured creditor, of sorts.

Essentially, if you live in Australia and you bought Diablo III from GAME, you're screwed. But wait -- Blizzard to the rescue.

In what has to be one of the classiest moves I've seen from a gaming company, Blizzard is offering a solution for those who have gotten the short end of the stick. Those who preordered from GAME can buy the Diablo III digital edition tonight, submit their GAME Australia receipt to Blizzard, and get refunded from Blizzard whatever money they paid for their preorder.

It's rare that anyone gets to report news of a company going out of its way to do something like this, let alone a multinational as huge as Blizzard. Huge kudos to Blizzard. Check out the full post announcing this, along with key dates, after the break.

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Filed under: News items, Diablo 3

Faces of BlizzCon: It's a long way to BlizzCon

Blizzard fans from Denmark
Can't make it to Anaheim for the convention? WoW Insider takes you behind the scenes at BlizzCon 2011.

It's a longer teleport to BlizzCon for some groups than for others. Guild groups from across the United States and Canada knit BlizzCon into epic road trips and shout across the aisles of flights packed with players comparing specs and progression. Still, it's not as uncommon as you might think to discover that the fan next to you in line is from another continent entirely.

BlizzCon is the trip of a lifetime for 21-year-old Christian Olsen and 22-year-old Mickey Exaudi of Roskilde, Denmark. The best friends are spending nine days here in America. Yes, they're planning to hit Universal Studios and the other Southern California tourist standards -- but Blizzard and BlizzCon is where it's at for this focused duo.

"I don't believe in religion -- I'm an atheist -- but this is the closest thing to me," Christian says with utter earnestness. Mickey laughs, yet he agrees with the sentiment. One of the first things the pair did after arriving was a pilgrimage to Irvine to see Blizzard headquarters. "Yeah, we could only just drive by and see the outside," Christian admits, "but wow. That's where it all happens. Wow."

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Filed under: Interviews, BlizzCon

Study: Playing in a guild actually lowers stress

A new study done by researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology says that spending time online playing World of Warcraft with others can actually be good for your mental wellbeing -- within moderation of course. Researcher Huon Longman studied WoW players who played alongside guildies in game, and found that players often shared their real-life concerns with their virtual associates, which resulted in lowered levels of "anxiety, depression, and stress." In short, it seems that when you build relationships and share emotions even with people online, it can help you deal with problems in real life as well. That follows what we talked about earlier this week with Dr. Hilarie Cash -- games like WoW can definitely complement real-life relationships and actually help you relax.

But only when used in moderation -- Longman also found that 10% of the sample he studied played considerably more World of Warcraft than normal, and that those players not only didn't experience a bigger benefit to their wellbeing, but actually experienced more "negative psychological symptoms." A good balance of virtual and real life can have a lot of benefits, but falling too much into virtual life can actually cause more problems psychologically, according to this researcher's work. Obviously, this is one study of many about how playing these games can affect how we think, but the results are definitely reflected in experience: in-game relationships, used in moderation, can definitely help you deal with the real world in a healthier way.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Guilds, Blizzard, Raiding

An official server for South Africa

Here's an interesting post from what looks like a site in Zaire wondering if Blizzard will ever bring World of Warcraft to South Africa. It's true -- we all take it for granted that here in North America and Europe, the game is available, but in many parts of the world, it's not. And apparently there's a market in a place like South Africa -- Blizzard says they have about five to seven thousand players down there already (we'd assume they're playing on EU or US servers), and that probably doesn't count any of the players on private servers, which could be as many as 20,000.

iGame is a division of an ISP called iBurst down there, and they say they're prepared to run an official server (within 24 hours' notice!) if Blizzard gives the OK, but Blizzard has told them that they need at least 40,000 players in the area to make it worth running an official server.

There's another option called a "peering" server, which apparently does hook up to Blizzard's servers, but uses local connections and networks to make things a little faster. But again, Blizzard needs to assent to that, and it seems like they're hesitant at the moment.

Oceanic realms have had issues for a long time, but at least the players there do have a chunk of servers dedicated to them. Are there any other major places in the world that don't have official WoW support yet? South America? India?

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

Blizzard finishes courtyard statue

That statue of an Orc on a Wolf (the same one that every Blizzard employee got a copy of when they moved into their new HQ a little while back) is now completed and standing outside of their main building in Irvine, California. The OC (don't call it that) Register took a trip over and got some pictures of it, and you can see the whole amazing thing in their photo slideshow.

Cool office decoration or the coolest office decoration? The statue was sculpted by the Weta Workshop in Australia, and shipped all the way into Irvine. No easy task, considering it's bronzed and 12 feet tall. Though from the pictures, it looks like it was installed in two separate pieces -- the wolf mount first, and then the Orc on top. And it also looks like Blizzard had a short unveiling ceremony, but it seems like it may have been just for employees from inside the building.

Bet that statue is more awesome than whatever's outside whatever building you're in right now. It's more awesome than what's outside mine, and I'm in Chicago.

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

Australian AG: MMOs like WoW must be classified

The good folks over at the OC (don't call it that) Register's Blizzard blog have gotten some more information about that recent flap with many MMOs being unrated and thus legally unable to be sold there. They talked to Daniel Gleeson of the Australian Attorney General's department, and he said that yes, the MMO games like World of Warcraft will have to be rated to be sold in the country. But he also reiterated what we'd heard a little while after Massively posted their story: that games were still being sold on store shelves, regardless of the actual legal tangles.

The Blizzard Blog also spoke with the IEAA, the classification board down there for games, and they were told the same thing that Massively was: while the board thought that MMOs did not require a rating, it has since become clear that they do. The difference, says the AG guy, is that the IEAA believed that "games" like WoW were actually services, not games, and thus didn't fall into the classification system.

But now it's clear to everyone that they do, so we'll expect to see the IEAA pass out a rating for World of Warcraft and the other MMOs on sale down there, and then this will all be over. It's interesting to note that ratings may be a very cultural thing -- here in America, ratings are pretty strictly issued by the ESRB, partially because the videogame industry is worried about governement intervention in the system (if the industry can't police themselves, angry parents may ask the government to step in). But in Australia, the government obviously seems largely unconcerned about the ratings. Then again, Aussies aren't completely laid back about everything having to do with MMOs.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Ranking, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

WoW still on store shelves in Australia

Our good friend Tateru Nino (who is in fact an Aussie herself) has a followup over at Massively about the report that World of Warcraft was no longer legally available in Oz earlier this week. The issue isn't in the rules -- those are the same: unclassified games like World of Warcraft are held to the same rules as banned games -- but in the lack of enforcement. Since the issue has gone public, stores are continuing to sell the game (though some have removed larger sale displays of the games), and law enforcement has made no moves to try and get the games off of store shelves.

The real problem here, of course, isn't that Australia wants to ban these games, but that they're falling through the cracks of what seems to be an extremely lax rating system. There's really no rating assigned to these games, so according to the rules, they can't be sold. But the rules make no sense in this case: no one, as far as we've heard, actually wants to ban these games in the country, and no one cares whether they're being sold on store shelves or not.

Still, Massively does expect action, eventually, even if it's an apparently much-needed rejiggering of the ratings system to include these "unrated" games. Bottom line right now is that if you want to buy or sell World of Warcraft in Australia, no one's stopping you from doing so.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, Expansions, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Australian TV covers World of Warcraft

Fortunately, this "mY Generation" show from Australian TV is a little more fair with WoW than the last bit we saw. Though the stereotyping of an entire generation and the video effects grate after a while, it's a generally better look at what it's like to be a World of Warcraft player. It would be nice to see, for example, these kids going out to a movie occasionally or interacting with other people (since most of WoW's population actually does that), and it would have been good to hear from more than just that scientific woman talking about the average playtime -- why all the focus on how many hours /played these people have and not what it feels like to play during those hours? But as far as mainstream reporting goes, it starts out as a pretty good description of what it's like to be a WoW player.

Part 2 and part 3 start to fall down, though, and by the time an intervention rolls around, the show gets a little more biased. I have to say, it would be fun to see a documentary done in this way for someone who watches TV 20 hours a week -- "We wanted to hang out with her, but she said the season finale of Top Model was on. She's a completely different person now!" Somehow, staring at a screen and doing nothing is still socially acceptable, but according to television itself, staring at a screen and interacting with other human beings isn't.

Thanks, Luke S.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Blizzard, News items

Oceanic maintenance moved away from prime time

We've posted about this issue quite a few times, and strangely enough, though Tseric told us way back that things would never change, it just might be fixed. Oceanic players, including Chri who kindly tipped us about this, are reporting that their maintenance has been moved from the usual Tuesday evening prime time (which is early Tuesday morning for us in the US) to early Wednesday morning their time. In other words, they didn't have to suffer their servers going down during playtime this week.

Unfortunately, there's no official word on this yet, so we're not sure if it's just this week, or if Blizzard just didn't have to restart this servers this time around, or what it was. But we do know that Oceanic players are cheering loudly that they didn't have to suffer mistimed maintenance this week, so hopefully Blizzard is taking action as promised on this one.

So very good news for Oceanic players, especially since the lag and shutdowns have been a huge problem for them in the past. If this really is a official change, hopefully we'll see Blizzard confirm that they've finally responded to all the player problems down there.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Realm Status, Blizzard, Hardware

Restarts and maintenance for Tuesday, May 20th

It's a relatively painless Tuesday Morning this time around for those who play in what are the early morning hours at Blizzard HQ. This time, most US servers will just recieve a quick rolling restart at 5 AM PDT, about half an hour from now, which should result in no more than 15 minutes of downtime. However, there are some servers that will get 2 hours of downtime: Agamaggan, Azshara, Baelgun, Dark Iron, Detheroc, Emerald Dream, Greymane, Kalecgos, Lightninghoof, Maelstrom, Malfurion, Moonrunner, Nazjatar, Sargeras, Staghelm, Twisting Nether, Ursin, and Wildhammer.

Also, here's something that should please a lot of Australian players: Their realms won't get the rolling restarts until 5AM AEST -- which translates to noon PDT. That should translate to lots of time for night owls to finish their raids before the restarts kick them off.

So in that 15 minutes to 2 hours of down time you'll have to go through, or if you're stuck at school or work, here's a few WoW Insider articles from the last week that are worth checking out. First, last week's major news and views:

If these aren't enough for you, there's more after the break.

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Filed under: Realm Status, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Lore

Gamers on the Street: Oceanic players persist despite performance issues

Gamers on the Street logs onto U.S. servers to get the word from the front on what's going on in and around the World of Warcraft.

Oceanic players continue to snarl this week at continued server performance issues that cramp their play. Oceanic subscribers playing from the other side of the world have dedicated servers, yes – but the servers are physically located in North America, and no consideration seems to have been given to shifting maintenance and resource-intensive background processes to non-peak local hours.

Needless to say, a good number of Oceanic players are up in arms over spiraling post-2.4 performance issues. Blue reps continue to take the heat from red-hot flames, reflecting a continued determination to work through the problems. We decided to pop in on a couple of Oceanic servers themselves, away from the heat of the forums, to see what the player temperature seemed to be.

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Filed under: Features, Interviews, Gamers on the Street

Yet another massive social problem somehow blamed on WoW

What does the Australian media have against World of Warcraft? First, they profile two people who have "had their lives ruined" by WoW. Now we have this wonderful article on terrorism by Natalie O'Brien in the Australian, which includes this paragraph: "Kevin Zuccato, head of the Australian High Tech Crime Centre in Canberra, says terrorists can gain training in games such as World of Warcraft in a simulated environment, using weapons that are identical to real-world armaments. Zuccato told an Australian Security Industry Association conference in Sydney that people intent on evil no longer had to travel to the target they wanted to attack to carry out reconnaissance. He said they could use virtual worlds to create an exact replica and rehearse an entire attack online, including monitoring the response and ramifications."

Uh ... okay. I have no idea how that would come close to happening with WoW. I can see how something like that would work with Halo or America's Army. But WoW doesn't allow you to generate your own content like Oblivion or such, so you couldn't create a functional model of a city or other terrorist target. We don't have weaponry that is "identical to real-world armaments", unless you count the bombs you can drop on Halaa.

The fine people of the WoW General Forum have picked this one up, suggesting that you wait for five sunders before assassinating a political leader and make sure to take the portal to Washington, DC. What do you think of this article?

Filed under: Odds and ends, News items

WoW completely ruins another life

The Australian media is at it again (why is Australia such a hotbed of this stuff?), with another report on how playing online games can horribly ruin your life. This time, they profile a guy named Mark Nichols, who apparently "played out his days in a virtual world... while his real life crumbled to pieces." Not surprisingly, he blames the game.

The best part is when he mentions WoW itself: "Then I heard about a game called World of Warcraft. That's when it all went south." Before he played WoW, he was apparently logging four hours a day in Half-Life, which is enough to make any sensible person reconsider what they're doing. But he was compelled (no choice involved, obviously) to install and play the game anyway. You can imagine the rest-- he loses his job (because, playing on a US server, he'd rather play during the day), loses his girlfriend, gains all kinds of weight, and generally becomes a mess. All because of the game. The last part is great, too: "Games have eaten away at my 20s and I was in stasis for a while," he says. "Hopefully it's not too late." As if the rest of his life will be completely ruined just because he chose to install a game.

I can't say much more about this than I've already said, but I will give the mic to the very insightful Rushster over at WorldofWar:

"I do hate the term 'real life' when used in the context of 'gaming ruining real life.' WoW is real life. It's a real-life entertainment activity just like knitting, watching TV, going to the movies, gardening etc. I do wish people would stop saying their 'real-life' was falling apart. I'm sure if you watch too much TV or go to the movies for 12 hours a day it can't be good for you either or your relationships."

Well said. If you're playing WoW for 12 hours a day-- stop now. Just uninstall the game and walk away. Leave the rest of us to enjoy the game responsibly, and have a good time without the media buying the stupid line that it's the game's fault for ruining this guy's life.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, News items, Humor

Midnight launch event: your launches edition

Several of you sent in your midnight launch photos, and we managed to get a tiny cross-section of this event from around the world (any players from Europe or Asia care to send your photos? we'll add them in!) -- the US, Canada, and Australia. Click on for some photos from your launch events.

[Above photo courtesy of Alec Paden]

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Filed under: Events, Fan stuff, Expansions, Features, The Burning Crusade

New Oceanic realm opening this Thursday

A few weeks ago we wrote about the difficulties encountered by Oceanic players -- maintenance and lag during their prime time hours as well as severe overcrowding on Oceanic flagged servers. Well, this Thursday, Oceanic players can look forward to the opening of a new Oceanic flagged realm (Dath'Remar, PvE), as well as free character transfers from all existing Oceanic realms (Aman'thul, Barthilas, Frostmourne, Jubei'thos, and Khaz'goroth). Will a single additional realm alleviate the issues occurring regularly on the other five realms? Come Thursday, we'll find out.

Filed under: Realm News, Realm Status, News items

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