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Blizzard purchases IGN Pro League

Blizzard Buys IGN Pro League
Blizzard has bought the technology and other assets related to the IGN Pro League. The future of IPL was up in the air due to IGN layoffs back in February with 1UP, UGO, and Gamespy closing shop. Now we know what the fate of IPL will be. Some members of the team will be moving over to San Francisco to work on "high-quality web and mobile content in support of Blizzard games" but it appears that the actual operations of IPL will be coming to a close. Other members will be joining Blizzard's existing eSports team and possibly assisting them with the recently announced Starcraft 2 World Championship Series.

Personally, I've enjoyed watching the League of Legends and Starcraft 2 tournaments that IPL held. I'm quite sad to see them go as I was impressed by the level of quality in their productions. Best of luck to everyone involved!


Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Tom Chilton suggests Mists of Pandaria "wildly overhyped"

Maybe Mists of Pandaria isn't quite as likely as we all thought. IGN PC had a chat with Game Director Tom Chilton about the rumors of the upcoming expansion, as well as the upcoming patch 4.3 and the possibility of WoW moving to a free-to-play model.

Chiming in on the subject of transmogrification was Art Director Chris Robinson, who explained a little about the details behind the feature and its restrictions. Robinson clarified that protecting class integrity was an important factor in both armor design and the upcoming transmogrification feature: "When you see those demon wings you know 'Okay that's a warlock,' you know you can apply that to his tier twenty-one armor but it's still a warlock."

So what about free-to-play? Chilton confirms that it's "definitely a possibility," but for those of you looking for an immediate free-to-play version of WoW, you're going to have to wait. Chilton clarified that the change would be a dramatic departure from Blizzard's current business model, and it would take quite a bit of convincing to switch models.

As to the subject of Pandaren ...

Speculation swirled recently regarding Blizzard's decision to trademark "Mists of Pandaria," as many thought it may indicate the name of the next World of Warcraft expansion. Pandaria, in Warcraft lore, refers to the home of the Pandaren, basically humanoid war pandas you may remember making an appearance as neutral heroes in Warcraft III. Chilton said the speculation was, "wildly overhyped." He added, "if you look at traditionally how we've handled that race it's been in those secondary products because we haven't realized it in the world. Most of the time when we do anything panda-related it's going to be a comic book or a figurine or something like that."

Comic books, figurines, or a new expansion? Time and undoubtedly BlizzCon will tell. Check out the full article over at IGN PC.

Filed under: News items, Rumors

The early days of the World of Warcraft

It's been five years since this game launched, and it's changed so much that you might have forgotten what life was like back then. But thanks to the magic of the Internet, those times are saved in clear HTML. Let's dig up some memories of the early game.

It's interesting to think what Blizzard was like before World of Warcraft. Today, the two are almost synonymous -- while they have two other major franchises (and one secret IP hiding in the works), it's almost impossible for anyone to think of Blizzard without thinking of WoW, and vice versa. The company has become almost solely defined by what they've done with this game. But of course, before the release, that wasn't the case.

Read more →

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

Take a wander down memory lane with the History of Warcraft

Just in time for the inevitable announcement of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, IGN have decided to turn in the opposite direction and take a peek at this history of this momumental franchise. They've posted an epic five-page retrospective feature on the entire Warcraft franchise as part of the run up to BlizzCon.

It looks at everything from the original game, Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, to the failed Thrall-centric loregasm that was Warcraft Adventures right on through to Warcraft II and III. Of course, they also look in detail at World of Warcraft and its two expansions, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King.

If you only discovered the Warcraft franchise with WoW, as I did, it's a fascinating glimpse into one of gaming's biggest franchises. World of Warcraft is not just a game or a single mythology, it's the culmination of a decade of gaming history. So if you've got an hour to kill before the fun and games today, you might want to check this out.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Expansions, Features, The Burning Crusade, Lore, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

Kaplan reveals a stinky achievement

It was just a quick sentence that went by almost completely unnoticed, flew totally under the radar. But in an interview which WoW lead designer Jeff Kaplan gave to WoW Vault, he mentioned a heretofore unknown achievement reward coming up in Wrath that will definitely pass the smell test.

Current Wrath beta testers may have been able to peruse the approximately 500 achievements in the current build, but Kaplan has indicated that by the final release there will be 600-700 achievements for players to attempt. One of these achievements, Kaplan said, can be acquired by collecting pets. It seems that if you collect all the available pets in the game -- and I'm not sure if he meant tameable pets or collectible/vanity pets or both -- you will be granted a unique pet in the form of a skunk called Stinker. For my two "scents," I do love me some cute vanity pets, but I'm really glad that WoW doesn't come in a scratch-n-sniff version or with smell-o-vision.

So now it's time for you to earn a WoW Insider achievement! Anyone under the age of thirty who can guess the name of the character in the picture will get this achievement: "Le kittee quel terriblay odeur!!"

Filed under: Items, News items, Expansions, Humor, NPCs, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King, Achievements

Jennicide places in poker, poses for Playboy, and plays on Proudmoore

Jennifer Leigh knows games -- she finished 5th at the Poker Royale: Battle of the Ages series. She's known as Jennicide on PokerStars, and finished "in the money" at the World Poker Tour in 2006. Other folks might know her from May's issue of Playboy magazine. In a recent interview with the RPG Vault on IGN, she talked a little about her history with games and World of Warcraft.

WoW's the only MMO she's played recently, but she's been known to play Everquest, Guild Wars, and others. She picked up World of Warcraft during a losing streak of poker, and figured paying Blizzard a monthly fee was would be less painful than continuing her streak. Of course, she runs into the same problem many people do: while she loves her WoW, she has trouble explaining to people who don't get it.

She's surprisingly open about her server information. (For the record, she plays a Night Elf Druid on Proudmoore, and helped found the guild Fate and Fury. Also, she's planning a Blood Elf Warlock.) Between this and the politicians coming out of the closet, I can't wait to see what other interviews crop up.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, News items, Interviews

Anonymous source says: Next expansion = "Into the Maelstrom"

You know we have one anonymous source, who told us that there'll be "Northrend" music played at Blizzcon, and then there's Boubouille at MMO-Champion who says that the next expansion will be called "Wrath of the Lich King" in which we'll go to Northrend and raid Arthas' little snow castle. Apparently IGN has an anonymous source of their own, though, and his info is quite different.
According to their contact, named "Blizz guy," we're going to have an "Into the Maelstrom" expansion, in which we go... into... the Maelstrom! and the Light only knows who we're going to fight there. Also, in lieu of new talents, Blizz guy says we're finally going to get our long-awaited Hero Classes that we can level up in, all the way to 80.

Now personally, I see all the hints pointing to Northrend, and absolutely nothing pointing to the Maelstrom, so I'm a lot more inclined to trust our own sources -- but we'll put this out there for all you who just love rumors and speculation! MMO-Champion and IGN can't both be right on this one, though I suppose they could both be wrong.

Which one do you think seems more likely? Or do you have an anonymous source of your own?

Filed under: Expansions, BlizzCon

IGN liveblogging Starcraft 2 announcement

Charles Onyett of IGN is in Korea right now liveblogging the Starcraft 2 announcement. Here's what I've pulled out of his hurried updates so far.
  • Game is playable (pray for a demo at Blizzcon), but nothing is final.
  • Protoss Zealots have their psi blades and shield, along with a new charge ability. There's a new Protoss unit called an Immortal, with a shield that activates when damaged-- looks like they're already implementing Paladins then.
  • A new Protoss unit called a Stalker can blink around-- Blizzard wants Protoss to quickly put an army anywhere on the map.
  • Three more new Protoss units: Colossus has long legs and can move quickly, Warprey is a flying unit that does more damage the more it focuses a ray on a target, and a Pheonix can overcharge weapons, but have a cooldown afterwards.
  • Zerglings can now become suicide bombs in a kind of rolling form.
  • There's a physics system in the game-- destroyed units can roll down ramps.
  • System can handle at least 100 units at a time, and looks "similar to SC1 - both in unit and map designs." It must be 3D, though. Right?
Still more to come, including hopefully video of the event. An opening cinematic was shown as well-- shouldn't be too long before we see that online.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Lord British likes WoW

Well, okay, maybe he doesn't *like* it like it, but Richard Garriott (aka Lord British) certainly appreciates the existence of the World of Warcraft. In an article I came across over at the WoW Vault on IGN, the creator of the Ultima series, and the Ultima Online MMO, discusses his feelings on the juggernaut that is WoW.

The article quotes an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, where Garriott states, "We commonly get the question, is World of Warcraft a big competitor that might hurt our sales? It really turns out to be quite the opposite." He then goes on to comment that MMO players typically will only play a game or two at a time, but then move on after a year.

I've been happily playing WoW since February of 2004, so I'm into my third year of the game, and nothing else has caught my eye in the MMO market. There are a couple of games on the horizon, but of the folks I'm playing WoW with, the majority have been around from the get-go. Are we just crotchety old-timers who won't admit that the average player only sticks around for a year?

Is what Lord British says true? Did any of you ditch other MMO's to come to WoW, or have you ditched WoW for other MMO's after playing for a year?

Filed under: Odds and ends, News items

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