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World of Warcraft in the 'net's traffic patterns


Arbor Networks is a company that continually monitors the Internet and its usage -- they keep track of Internet outages and site visits on a global scale. They just recently released a report of when traffic peaks in the evenings around the world, and at least one of their results is about the game we're all playing, none other than World of Warcraft. In terms of just general consumer traffic online, the numbers tend to peak, according to the report, at around 8-11pm -- the time right before bed when most Americans are done with dinner, and have a little free time to jump online and browse around. In terms of what they're doing when online, simple web browsing makes up most of that traffic (52%), what's the rest of it? Gaming, including WoW.

More than any other gaming service (they also take a look at Steam), WoW's chart is extremely interesting -- it peaks solidly at 8pm every night, and then falls back down just as sharply around 11pm. In other words, the biggest audience for WoW (during this time period -- this is over ten days in July of this year) is raiders, who show up on time at 8 and end the raid around 3 hours later. In other words, if you want to avoid the crowd, show up after 11. Or even better, raid in the mornings. Interesting stuff -- certainly Blizzard has much more detailed information on when people log into the game (and where they go when they do), but as an overview of traffic patterns, Arbor's research all makes sense.

[via Network World]

Filed under: Realm News, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Instances

The pros and cons of Battle.net


Well it's finally happened -- as of next month, you'll be required to have a Battle.net login to get into the game, so you might as well head over and merge your account up right now. It's not like we have a choice in the matter any more, but that doesn't mean lots of players still have apprehensions about the process. Naissa puts some of the concerns together clearly over on her blog -- putting all of her accounts under one username scares her, and that's a legit point. Not only can Blizzard presumably cut access to all of their games for just one (or even one false positive) ToS violation, but presumably, one hacker could now gain access to all of your Blizzard games with one hack. The online profile is another concern -- Bungie already has something like this running with Halo, and from my online profile, you can see clearly just how bad I am. With the Armory, there's a level of anonymity (you can't see your account name, just character names), but if Blizzard starts posting profiles under account names -- or even worse, "Real IDs," which are apparently real names -- that's one more layer of separation lost. Surely, they'll have to have a way to opt out of that.
Of course, the changeover isn't all bad.

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

Divining just what that "non-personal system information" might be

As Eliah noted the other day, Blizzard is running another hardware survey -- your WoW client will be sending them information about what kinds of hardware are in your computer. They've done this before, and as you may have realized, this type of information helps them determine system requirements for future games. A few people have already speculated that they're testing the waters for another WoW expansion, but I doubt any expansion is that far along in the process yet: my guess is that this latest round of hardware testing is actually being done for final calibration on Starcraft II, due out this fall. Blizzard doesn't share this hardware information with us, but Valve, another company that has a really wide install base with its Steam service, does release regular information about the kinds of computers its games are running on.

There is, of course, another question here: do we really want Blizzard jumping in and taking this information from us? There aren't any obvious reasons to protect this information (most computers will give it up to any Internet-connected application without issue), but you never know: do you really want Blizzard checking out what's on your hard drive or what accessories you've hooked up to your computer? We'd presume that they don't dive into software information (like checking your computer's HD for signs of competing MMO installs), but certainly they could. The list of what they check includes: "CPU, RAM, operating system, video, audio, HD/CD/DVD, and network connection," but we don't know if that's everything or not (the Terms of Use, under "XVIII Acknowledgements" says something similar). And as Blizzard's alert says, while we do get a momentary notification that this information is being sent, users who have merged their Battle.net accounts will no longer even see that flash of a message, even though their info is still being sent. The ToS says Blizzard doesn't have to notify us of the survey, but they have in the past anyway.

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

Kaplan on Achievements and how Blizzard is doing them differently

Jeff "Tigole" Kaplan must have finished his work on the expansion because he's talking a lot lately -- first he's all over the forums giving us tidbits about what's up with Wrath, and now he's had a chat with MTV Multiplayer about what Blizzard's planning to do the same and differently with their achievements system.

He openly acknowledges the impact of the Xbox 360 and Steam platform's achievements systems, and says that Blizzard even found themselves calling the rewards "achievements," just because the idea was so well established. But they're trying to do things differently as well: whenever they can they'll offer a progress bar, and give players access to many of the stats they have, so it'll be easy to track just where you're at in the process of earning the points.

Kaplan also says that the UI team is working on completely opening up the system to mods as well, so expect to see some wild achievement addons when the mod community gets their hands on it. We do still have one more question, though: just what kinds of rewards will all these achievement points be used for? Kaplan, if you're still up for talking, feel free to chat with us.

[via WorldofWar.net]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Quests, Achievements

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