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Posts with tag software

Realm status iPhone app sends push notifications for the servers


Reader Jiang sent us a tip about his new iPhone application (App Store link). It's a realm status application that will track your realm's up and down times straight from Blizzard's page so you can check them anytime on your iPhone. And that in itself isn't that amazing -- there are other apps that will do the same thing, and even some that will do it for free (Jiang's app is $1.99). But Jiang's app will also deliver Push notifications for you, and that's something I haven't seen before in an iPhone app. You can set notifications for multiple realms, and then whenever one goes up or down, you'll get a notification on your iPhone about it.

A few of the other apps are working on implementing Push notifications, so if you're patient, you might be able to get them for cheaper (or even free, though it usually does cost money to run a notification server). But if you absolutely want up-to-the-minute notifications when servers go up and down and are willing to put a few bucks towards a piece of iPhone software, there you go.

Filed under: Tips, Fan stuff, Realm Status, Odds and ends

WoW bundled with WildTangent software on new PCs

WildTangent is a company that started up around ten years ago (they originally made game plugins for Winamp, if you remember that) that's recently gotten a reputation for "bloatware." They've made deals with PC manufacturers like Dell, HP, and Acer to bundle in their software on the harddrive when you buy it. (Most users familiar with PCs find these software bundles more of a nuisance than anything else.) But nevertheless, WildTangent claims up to 20 million users worldwide, and they continue to make deals, the most recent one being with none other than Blizzard. According to a press release on their website [PDF], World of Warcraft's trial downloader will now be included with all installs of WildTangent's ORB software, which means that whenever you buy a new computer from a dealer WildTangent has hooked up with, there'll be a program already installed on your PC that will let you download and play World of Warcraft, among the many other games WildTangent has already included.

This likely isn't targeted at you, dear audience -- odds are that you've already got the discs for WoW, and if you do buy a new PC, you'll probably still delete WildTangent's app and install WoW yourself. Instead, it's a stab at picking up new subscribers -- people who might not already know about World of Warcraft or PCs may see the icon on their new desktop, double click it, and find Azeroth for the first time. The press release even notes that WoW subscribers still in their trial month are counted as subscribers, so odds are this is a random attempt to pick up a few more subscribers from people who aren't willing to go get the game themselves.

There's one more thing to note here: Activision isn't mentioned at all.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Hardware

Nielsen: WoW is most played core game by 25-54 females


Here's an interesting bit of info from the Nielsen folks: over 400,000 women are playing World of Warcraft in the US, which means it's the most-played "core" game for that gender. And even more interesting, females 25 years or older make up the largest block of PC game players overall, and they account for 54.6% of all gameplay minutes in December of last year. Girls don't just play WoW -- they're quickly becoming one of it's main demographics.

You can read the report in PDF form over here -- the chart above might be the most interesting piece of information, as it shows that though males still make up a huge part of the PC gaming audience, many of them have now moved on to consoles, and women (especially older women, over 25), during the last month of last year, are making up a huge audience for PC games. Later in the report, you can see what kinds of games women are really playing: Solitare, Freecell, Minesweeper, and all of those other little attention grabbers on every PC. But among those widespread casual games is our own World of Warcraft. And while the 25-52 male audience of 675, 713 for that game still remains larger than the female audience in the same demo, the ladies aren't far behind.

Neilsen also calculated some base stats for WoW, including the fact that 1.8 million unique people played the game, and the average time of gameplay per week was 744 minutes, just over 12 hours (slightly up from last year's average). Additionally, of those who play World of Warcraft, their second most-played game was Solitaire, followed by Warcraft III. Fascinating stuff. Remember that these are statistics, so they are more general trends than anything else, but it's definitely true World of Warcraft and PC gaming in general is no longer only the domain of the male demographic.

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

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

The Glider outcome and copyright law

Well, as you may have heard, Blizzard has all but finished off Glider -- pending one more appeal (which doesn't seem likely to win), Glider is getting shut down for good next week. Good news for Blizzard, but not so good for copyfighters? Blizzard used a controversial argument for copyright in its case -- they claimed that by circumventing the ToS, the Glider folks were actually breaking copyright law, and an interest group called Public Knowledge didn't take kindly to that. They argued that a decision for Blizzard would mean that any software developer could then prevent any customer from doing anything they didn't want to do, just by calling it a copyright infrigement. Blizzard responded that "buying" your WoW software was actually "licensing" it, but of course that didn't settle anyone down.

And now, Glider has lost -- so what next?

Read more →

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

Warcraft Chest and WoWTalent for iPhone

We posted about the Warcraft Characters app for the iPhone a while ago, and it's still the best way on Apple's mobile device to check your (or anyone else's) Armory entries. But a few other iPhone apps have popped up that might be useful to World of Warcraft fans -- both of these are free and both are worth checking out.

Warcraft Chest will let you look at drops from all bosses in dungeons and raids, rep rewards, Badge items, and PvP rewards. So if you want to drool over your favorite items while away from the game, it'll let you do just that. Unfortunately, the interface is a little boring, as it's just your normal iPhone app; it would be nice to see some kind of Loot List functionality, where you could sort items by class or type. But if you're invited to a Heroic and want to see what drops in there without alt-tabbing out of your game, there you go.

And WoWTalent will do the same thing for class talents -- you can browse through all the talent specs of every class, including all the Hunter pets and the various talents that come with each tree there. You can load and save trees to show your friends later, but unfortunately, there's no way right now to share them online -- the WoWHead talent trees are pretty URL-hackable, and it would be nice to be able to export a tree you create in WoWTalent out to a URL you can email or even tweet. But for browsing talents away from the game on the iPhone, it too works. As I said, both apps are free and available now.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Bosses, Talents, Hardware

WoW's EULA and Blizzard's OS support

Cory Doctorow posted on Boing Boing the other day about WoW's EULA being unreadable when installing the game on Linux. And obviously he's right -- Linux doesn't always have the font that Blizzard's installer uses, and so when you try to run it on Linux, you get gibberish, at least during installation. But there's more to this story here -- running WoW on Linux is actually unsupported by Blizzard: you can do it, and it's not against the EULA or ToS (in fact, Blizzard actually worked with the WINE guys to make sure the game ran correctly), but obviously any issues you have are an "at your own risk" kind of situation. So Doctorow's pretty much out of luck (or in luck as the case may be -- it's unlikely a EULA could be enforced on an unsupported system).

And Linux isn't the only unsupported major OS out there -- Microsoft will release the beta of Windows 7, the new version of Windows, into the wild on January 10th, and Blizzard has made it clear that they won't support that, either, at least until it gets out of beta and into a release state. Of course, Microsoft has an interest in making sure old versions of Windows software work with the new OS, but if you only have one computer and absolutely need to play WoW on it, you should stay away from Windows 7 until the bugs are ironed out.

Then again, there are worse OSes to deal with.

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

Mike Morhaime wins 2008 award from OC* Business Journal

The Orange County Business Journal has awarded none other than Blizzard's own Mike Morhaime with the runner up for their Businessperson of the Year award (the main award went to some CEO of an investment company, much more boring than running a fantasy world full of orcs and elves). The Journal cite's Blizzard's huge successes in a rough financial year as reason for Morhaime's honor.

The paper isn't quite completely familiar with what Blizzard does (did you know Diablo III was "released" in June of last year? Don't know why I haven't seen it on store shelves yet!), but there are a few interesting tidbits in there for us, including the fact that WoW was so popular on its original release day that Blizzard had to bring employee copies out to their Fry's to sell them to hungry fans. And Morhaime talks a bit about Blizzard being part of Activision, and reveals the biggest change we've heard of yet since the takeover: "The big difference here is we are one step closer to the public markets. It requires that we spend more time than we used to in educating analysts and investors about Blizzard, where we used to be able to not deal with that side of the business."

So hopefully Blizzard's higherups aren't spending too much time trying to sell stock rather than making great games. He does reiterate, however, that Activision has continued to be hands off (especially as long as Blizzard is making so much money for them), so a lot of the things that fans have guessed are Activision influences are probably decisions that Blizzard themselves have already made. Still, success is success -- pretty good for a guy who started out writing test software for Western Digital. Congrats to Morhaime on the award.

*Don't call it that.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Making money, BlizzCon

Testers wanted for new iPhone Armory application

Elad Shahar, a student at University of Massachusetts Lowell, has developed a web interface that will allow you to search the Armory on your iPhone or iPod touch's MobileSafari. He's released a new version today, polished to the point where he's looking for people to help him test the application and to offer ideas and suggestions.

iArmory lets you do the searches you'd expect -- by player or guild -- and serves up results in a clean, Apple-like format that's designed especially for the iPhone's screen. The one catch is that the Armory has been stripped of its images, including items, tooltips, and fancy borders. What you get is a simple text display of the information you searched for. You can see images of the interface on Elad's website, Omen of Clarity.

So, if you are, you know, hip enough to own an iPhone or an iPod touch (which I'm, uh, not), and you are reading this post (which means you probably play WoW), then get your Armory-lovin' self over to Omen of Clarity's contact page and volunteer your services as a tester. Git, I said!

Filed under: News items

Switchblade updates to version 3.0

We've covered Switchblade before (and even posted an impressions and interview about it), so odds are you've probably at least heard of the program, which allows you to play WoW and other PC games with a wired (or wireless with adapter) Xbox 360 controller. Blue Orb recently sent word that they updated the app to version 3.0, and along with the update came not only support for Guild Wars and Hellgate: London, but updates to the way WoW controls.

There are now presets that come with the program for each class, so the priest preset will play different from the warrior preset, and so on. The release notes also say that there is a "key capture" feature -- just press a key to bind it -- and there is also a number of "combo" and "game actions" features. You've got to be careful when running programs that line up sets of actions for you, however; we know from experience that Blizzard sometimes walks a fine line when using inputs that allow macros.

Switchblade is now available as a free download (the program itself is ad-supported) and an Xbox 360 controller (as well as downloadable software drivers from Microsoft) is required to use it.

Filed under: Patches, Odds and ends, Add-Ons, Classes, Hardware

WoW $10 at Circuit City

If you happen to need a copy of our favorite game, perhaps to get started multiboxing, here's a pretty cheap deal from Circuit City: order a copy of the original game online for in-store pickup, pay $10. The game is usually $20. On the other hand, picking up a copy of Burning Crusade to go with it, which one would generally want to do, will run you $30, whether you do it the physical way or as a download. And the Battle Chest is $40. So this is only a good deal if you for some reason need WoW without BC. Anyway, those of you who do need it, get to it.

Filed under: Tips

How to increase your camera distance


It seems to me like we've covered this before, but I can't find it, so it must have been a while. The standard camera distance in World of Warcraft isn't bad, especially if your computer is right at the system requirements-- you can usually see most of what's happening and yet it's close enough to keep you focused on your character.

But if you've got a really nice PC and, like me, want to see a little farther than normal (or as in the picture above, a lot farther than normal), there are a few easy ways to increase your camera distance, as Dr. Laxative found over on LJ.

ImprovedCamera is probably the easiest-- it's an addon that will give you a slider to increase camera distance up to the max allowed range. You can also see, in the description on that site, that there are ways to edit your WoW files and increase the max range even farther. By editing the "SET cameraDistanceD" number in your config.wtf file, you can change one of the preset lengths for the camera, and then cycle through them with Home and End. You don't even really need an addon to tweak your settings-- type "/script SetCVar("cameraDistanceMax",30)" (or whatever distance you want) into the chat console, and then you should be able to scroll out to the max distance that you just set.

If your computer's not that great, doing this stuff will definitely introduce slowdown and pop-in to your graphics, so run these commands with care. But if you've got the gear for it, you can see Azeroth at a whole new distance.

Filed under: Tricks, How-tos, Odds and ends, Add-Ons

Blizzard's third project: Hydra

We already know Blizzard has three games in development right now. One of them is Wrath of the Lich King, the next WoW expansion. The second is Starcraft II. And the third is an as-of-yet-unannounced title... called Hydra.

That's what the Inquirer overheard at the Austin GDC. One Blizzard employee asked another what they were working on, and the overheard reply was "I'm working on Hydra."

So now we have an internal name for Blizzard's third project. Let the speculation begin. I'll start: the Hydra is a creature from Greek mythology, so maybe we're looking at a Diabloesque game set in Greece? Like Titan Quest (which is really Diablo anyway) or God of War, but made by Blizzard? And Hydras also appear in World of Warcraft (notably in BFD, where a Hydra is the final boss), so could it be possible that this is actually another WoW expansion, maybe the Maelstrom expansion we've been waiting for?

Thanks, James!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

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