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Posts with tag breakingnews

Blizzard moves from #47 to #1 in studio rankings

According to a recent list by Develop magazine, Blizzard has dethroned Nintendo to become the most bankable game studio in the world. I'm surprised they weren't there already, but I guess it's just this side of possible that Nintendo is hard to budge. Develop's top 100 is compiled by their editorial team and accounts for total sales, reputation within the industry, and a variety of other criteria. When all was said and done, the editors wrote, Warcraft "continues to do the sort of numbers previously reserved for crime syndicates and smaller members of the United Nations."

Nicely put, but what I find most bizarre about the list is that Blizzard jumped from #47 to #1 within the space of a year (you'll find Blizzard's 2008 listing on page 82 of a highly annoying-to-navigate Issuu archive). While part of that's due to the merge with Activision, Develop claims that Wrath of the Lich King being the fastest-selling PC game in history was the greatest contributing factor. Hang on. WoW was doing just fine even before Wrath hit, so how did Blizzard manage to get itself ranked behind do-little studios with sales of around $1-2 million per game on the 2008 list?

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Arena Season 5 to end as soon as April 14

Bornakk posted a tentative date for the announced end of Arena Season 5, indicating that the season can end "as early as April 14" or a week after. It should be noted that the first four Arena seasons had no breaks in between, with one season beginning immediately after the last ended. Arena seasons were only suspended upon the release of Patch 3.0 leading up to Wrath of the Lich King, with the first season of Level 80 Arena play beginning on December 16. This time around, however, Bornakk makes it clear that the next Arena season will not begin immediately but have at least a one week break before Season 6 begins.

This should also be taken as an indication of when Patch 3.1 will be released. Blizzard has stated that they plan to unleash Season 6 almost simultaneously with the new raid content, so if Season 5 ends within two or three weeks, it should be expected that Patch 3.1 is just around the corner. It might even come sooner rather than later, as Blizzard has noted that Season 5 would "end with or shortly after" Patch 3.1 goes live. All of the necessary files such as Season 6 items are contained in the patch, so this only makes sense.

Bornakk reminds all players who feel they will be eligible for end of season rewards, such as titles and the Deadly Gladiator's Frostwyrm, should refrain from transfering their characters to another realm until after Season 5 ends (or until rewards have been handed out to be safe). During the break between seasons, all ranked matches will be disabled and all Arena points and ratings will be wiped [EDIT: Arena points and ratings will continue to be available during the one week break to allow players to spend their points, but will be wiped when Season 6 begins.]. However, players will retain their matchmaking ratings and Honor points.

Filed under: News items, PvP, Arena

[UPDATED] WoW Patch 3.1 shuts down the Iron Council

After players got a taste of Hodir yesterday, Blizzard earlier opened up another Ulduar boss encounter on the Patch 3.1 PTR. The Iron Council were ready and waiting for raiders eager to have a shot at them -- and as you can see from the screenshot above, they don't look like pushovers. However, numerous crashes and related problems prevented full testing of the encounter, and Blizzard shut down Ulduar testing for the meantime. We had some of our team from WoW Insider who tried to take a crack at the Iron Council but were repelled by various iterations of server fail.

[UPDATE: According to some reports, well-known raiding guilds Death & Taxes, Method, and Fusion all managed to stay inside Ulduar for some time after Blizzard booted everyone else out of the instance. This is sort of expected, considering Blizzard wanted to truly test the encounter -- numerous players formed 2-man raids just to be able to enter Ulduar, thus maxing out the instance limit.]

Players who can't get on the PTR or who have similarly given up in frustration because the world server isn't exactly in the stablest of conditions, you can live the encounters vicariously through the streaming video of other intrepid players such as the folks from Rawrcast or Thelastrace on Justin TV. You mileage may vary. In the meantime, you can enjoy the screenshots of the encounter below. We guarantee they won't crash.

Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.

Filed under: Patches, News items, Raiding

Hearthstones down to 30 minute cooldown in patch 3.1

Alright, so they killed ghetto hearthing. Blizzard never intended the instance boot system to be used as means to travel back to one's home city while Hearthstones were on cooldown, so they're setting things right in Patch 3.1 by making it port players to the nearest graveyard, instead. Naturally, this sparked outrage amongst the instance-abusing community and some players demanded Blizzard to make up for the loss of one of the most frequently used means of travel.

Eyonix was quick to shut down these arguments in a long thread but eventually capitulated to the will of the masses, announcing that Hearthstones would be usable every 30 minutes when Patch 3.1 goes live. Eyonix still doesn't quite understand what the fuss is all about, though, and points to mage portals, Dalaran portals, and good old mount riding as acceptable means of getting from point A to point B. He even dismisses the complaints as QQ at one point. That said, it looks like some QQ has won the day for now. Enjoy your 30 minute hearthstones, everyone.
Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Forums

Plagued and Black Proto-drake rewards to be removed

Bornakk had some news today that might send a lot of raiding guilds into a frenzied rush to get those raid Achievements. According to him, Blizzard will be removing the Plagued and Black Proto-Drake rewards from the Glory of the Raider and Heroic: Glory of the Raider meta-Achievements respectively. Blizzard believes that with guilds progressing into Ulduar and getting significantly better gear, those Achievements would be trivialized. So the 310% mounts are sadly going the way of the Amani War Bear.

With Patch 3.1 already on the PTR -- although without Ulduar yet -- the clock is ticking for aspiring drake riders. All hope isn't lost, however, as Blizzard is introducing two new reward mounts to go with the 10- and 25-man Ulduar raid Achievements. Pictured above as mined from the PTR files by MMO Champion is the Ironbound Proto-Drake, which I suspect is the reward for the Heroic Ulduar Achievments. There's also a Rusted Proto-Drake, which is likely the reward for the 10-man meta-Achievement. For those of you working towards the Plagued and Black Proto-Drakes, you don't have long now! Hop to it and don't die!
Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.

Filed under: News items, Raiding, Mounts, Achievements

Blizzard theme park? Make it so.

If the thought of a Blizzard theme park makes you squeal with girlish excitement -- something I'd, um, never, ever do, of course -- then here's your chance to help make it a reality. Maybe. Nethaera announced the Blizzard Theme Park Contest on the forums, asking players to submit their ideas for a theme park based on Blizzard's properties. Players can submit illustrations that look like theme park maps, or make them look like screenshots from the games. The best entries will be displayed in BlizzCon 2009.

While this doesn't necessarily mean that Blizzard will actually make a theme park based on the StarCraft, Warcraft, and Diablo universes, the idea does make me squeal girlishly giddy with excitement. Those interested are challenged to illustrate every fantastic thing they can imagine -- from water rides, roller coasters, and even food courts and shopping arcades. Aspiring park designers have until March 30 to submit their entries, with a chance to win a Wacom Cintiq 12WX Digitizing Tablet, Echoes of War, and StarCraft II beta keys. So hop to it! Now where'd I put my stylus...

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Contests, BlizzCon

The Argent Tournament in Patch 3.1

In one of the most unexpected announcements about the eagerly anticipated Patch 3.1 PTR, Zarhym announced a new world event called The Argent Tournament. The event will be included in the PTR, even though he makes it clear that many aspects of the event will still be under development. It looks like a pretty big event, based on the Argent Crusade faction in Icecrown. Some highlights include:
  • Mounted combat - Blizzard wasn't clear if players would be using their own mounts or special vehicle-type mounts, but the say that the tournament was to prove one's worth to their own capital city
  • A tournament coliseum - Daily quests to build a coliseum will likely be similar to the multi-phase daily quests in the Isle of Quel'danas
  • New Achievements
  • All new rewards -Zarhym promises new items, titles, tabards, pets, mounts, and banners (possibly like the Honor and reputation-bought Battle Standards?)
This looks like a pretty big event and Blizzard managed to keep it under the radar. With all the excitement about Ulduar and the massive work that's certain the content entails, it's a pleasant surprise that Blizzard had this planned all along -- promising more festivities as time goes by. We over here at WoW Insider are giddy with the thought of the event, and as Daniel put it, it makes us feel like we're "back in High School being teased by the cutest girl in senior year". Uh, yeah. That means we're kind of excited. You should be, too.

Arena tournament registration now open

Blue poster Vaneras over at the European forums announced that registration for the 2009 World of Warcraft Arena tournament is officially open in Europe. Aratil made a similar announcement for US players a few hours after. They remind all players that participants in the tournament, which follows a 3v3 format, will get the chance to obtain an armored murloc pet or the the exclusive "Vanquisher" title for their characters on live realms. Successful participants will earn slots in live invitational tournaments and a shot at the $75,000 grand prize.

According to the tournament FAQ, which contains many of the important details, players must play 200 rated matches with one character on the same team within the qualifying period in order to obtain the Armored Murloc pet for their live characters. Meanwhile, players looking to earn the Vanquisher title (for live characters Level 71 and above only) must finish in the top 1,000 teams at the end of the online qualifier. Registration for the tournament, slated to start on February 25, costs $20 or 15 Euro.

Filed under: News items, PvP, Arena

Wrath delayed in China

As excited as the Chinese community may be with the imminence of Wrath of the Lich King -- it was on the covers of most gaming magazines in the past months -- WoW players in China are going to have to wait just a bit longer for the latest expansion. According to a report, World of Warcraft China distributor The9 plan to delay the release of the expansion until March or April after initial plans to launch on February 19.

The delay would be due to a "policy supervision" and it's likely that the launch will come after the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), both of which happen on the first week of March. The report also said that the game's fame -- as well as recent bad press about Blizzard -- was also to blame, subjecting it to greater scrutiny.

Some rumors state that The9 is delaying the release of the game in order to speed up negotiations with Blizzard, who wish to have more control over server groups and other issues. Both companies are also reportedly in disagreement over monetary issues, although The9 denied the news. The9 President Xiaowei Chen has stated in the past that the contract would be renewed in June.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Wrath of the Lich King

WoW EU previews Ulduar

We've been waiting not-very-patiently for news on Ulduar and patch 3.1, and the WoW EU website certainly delivered today. A preview for Ulduar has been posted, with some descriptions of the early raid encounters and a little more lore flavor for the zone itself. The very beginning of the preview gives a little setup for the zone: "Some thought it a city, built to herald the glory of its makers; some thought it a vault containing innumerable treasures, perhaps even relics of the mighty Titans themselves. They were wrong. Beyond its gates lies no city, no treasure vault, no final answer to the Titan's mysteries. All that awaits those who dare set foot in Ulduar is a horror even the Titans could not, would not destroy, an evil they merely... contained."

Awesome? I would say so. The preview also drives the point home that Blizzard is really loving the hard mode options of encounters. 11 out of 14 encounters will have a hard mode (or modes), so your raid can determine what they can handle. I don't want to get too excited about the preview, I'd like to see the zone in person before I get giddy, but it does sound damn cool and the pictures they supply are very pretty. Go forth and devour their bandwidth, my friends.

Need more news about Ulduar? We've got updates, previews, speculation, and everything else you need to know about the next big raid coming in patch 3.1. If the Titans are hiding it up there, we'll tell you about it here.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

Season 6 weapons as good as Ulduar drops

As an addendum to the recent Arena system FAQ posted on the forums, Kalgan addresses several concerns about the gear, the system, and questions of skill vs. gear. In a very forthcoming and transparent post, Kalgan admits that Blizzard "botched the ilvls" of the current Deadly Gladiator weapons by making them a full tier below the items from Kel'thuzad in heroic Naxxramas. At the time they designed them, Blizzard didn't account for how easily accessible Kel'thuzad would be.

He promises they won't make the same mistake in Season 6, and that the new Furious Gladiator weapons would be equivalent to the items in Ulduar. Kalgan explains that the aim is to balance the accessibility of the items so that the number of raiders who have access to the best raid weapons is roughly the same as the number of Arena players with access to the best PvP weapons. He even goes so far as to say that Blizzard will make two tiers of PvP weapons if necessary. This might have been in the original plan as Hateful Gladiator weapons are in the game files but not available in the game.

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Filed under: Blizzard, PvP, Arena

Arena Season 6: Rise of the Furious Gladiator

Kalgan hopped on over to the forums to make a significant post that previews what can happen in Arena Season 6, the tiers of gear available, and what will happen to the Vault of Archavon. One of my fears going into the next Arena Season was that Archavon the Stone Watcher would lose his relevance, as he drops significantly lower tier gear a full season behind the current one. This would have greatly devalued control of Wintergrasp.

However, Kalgan reveals that a new boss in another wing of the Vault of Archavon will drop the Furious Gladiator pieces. He makes no mention of past season's gear, and says that the new boss' loot table will be structured slightly differently drom Archavon's. This could mean that the 10-man version can drop the Honor-bought non-set pieces rather than a lower tier of Arena gear and notes that the boss will not drop the chest piece. In the same post, he pegs the chest piece at a 1750 rating requirement, which should probably indicate that the boss will not drop items with a higher requirement (head, shoulder, weapon, etc.). This is an important announcement that ensures the relevance of Wintergrasp. The boss is also expected to drop Tier 8 pieces, making it equally appealing to PvE players.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, PvP, Forums, Arena

Rolling restarts on all realms

Bornakk broke the news earlier today that all realms will be going down, saying that Blizzard needs to perform urgent rolling restarts today, Thursday. He notes that all realms will be down for approximately 15 minutes and that the procedure, slated to start at 10:30am PST, will last approximately one hour.

However, reports indicate that restarts have taken on a different form than expected, as many realms went down several times for a short period several hours earlier. These rolling restarts, lasting no more than a few minutes per realm, occurred much earlier than Bornakk's announcement. Blizzard did not indicate what problems they will be fixing with these emergency restarts. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.

Filed under: Blizzard, Hardware

Turn Evil glyph likely to be nerfed

The most powerful PvP glyph for Paladins looks like it's going to be hammered with the nerf bat. The Glyph of Turn Evil originally reduced the cast time of Turn Evil by 100%. In Patch 3.0, the spell Turn Evil had its cooldown removed, so when Paladins used this glyph they had access to a spammable instant cast crowd control spell that could completely shut down Death Knight ghouls and gargoyles, as well as Warlocks under the effects of Metamorphosis. In Patch 3.0.8, Blizzard revised the glyph to add an 8 second cooldown to the spell.

Even with the change, some players are still crying foul, and Ghostcrawler responds that instant cast Turn Evil "might be a problem" and that they are likely to fix it. This is the latest in a series of nerfs and reworks applied to Paladin glyphs -- mostly affecting PvP -- since the release of Wrath of the Lich King. The original Glyph of Crusader Strike had Crusader Strike deal more damage to stunned targets, but now currently reduces the cost of the spell by 20%. The 41-point talent is plain enough (with the removal of the Judgement refresh aspect in 3.0) and the glyph to accompany it is even more boring. Glyph of Hammer of Justice originally extended the stun by 1 second but now only increases the range of the spell by a mere 5 yards.

With the speed Blizzard tends to hotfix issues like these, expect a nerf to the Glyph of Turn Evil very soon. What was that famous Ghostcrawler line again? Oh, yeah... "to the ground, baby!"

Filed under: Paladin, Blizzard, Forums

More on Blizzard's new Arena system

Blizzard has gone the extra mile in trying to explain their extremely mysterious new Arena matchmaking and rating system. They've featured their blue posts prominently on their front page as a feature called 'Shop Talk', collating all the official statements on the subject over the past couple of weeks. This is retroactive transparency going into overdrive, seeing as how they unleashed the system on players without mentioning it or even getting it tested on the PTR. When the system blew up in everyone's faces soon after Patch 3.0.8 was released, they were quick to suspend Arena play and tried to get things right.

Now that it's up, players have reported winning games but losing points. In fact, some readers have written in to report extremely successful Arena records but result in low or even negative gains. If Blizzard wanted to make Arenas more accessible and enjoyable, taking points away from winning teams was certainly the wrong way to do it. In the latest chapter of this sordid saga of the new Arena system, Kalgan mentions that Blizzard "made adjustments to the ratings system" in a hotfix applied recently. Notable points after the jump.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, PvP, Forums, Arena

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