WoW Wednesday: The Unmitigated Warcraft 3 Disaster

Last week we talked extensively about Warcraft 3: Reforged, the “complete re-imagining of a real-time strategy classic,” as quoted by the game’s splash-page. At length we discussed the very critical problem throughout Warcraft 3: Reforged’s development cycle, as well as other impactful events throughout Activision-Blizzard that could have potentially negatively impacted the final product. At the time of publishing Reforged had been out for less than a day, and as such all of its issues were not yet brought to light. While writing we here at MMOGames.com were only aware of many of its critical game-breaking bugs and a few missing features.

Last week was much more positive in hindsight, wasn’t it?

In the span of a week Blizzard Entertainment and Activision-Blizzard have come under fire what is, in no small terms, an unmitigated launch disaster for Warcraft 3: Reforged. On top of the release day bugs that saw players fundamentally unable to play the game, the entire game was rife with quality of life issues. One friend of mine, humorously, had a glitch during the Night Elf campaign where voice lines from any Hero Class character could be prompted immediately without cancelling the prior. As the units speak each time they engage movement he managed to accidentally have Malfurion become locked into the first syllable of every single voice line for the entirety of the mission.

Pushing aside the nature of humorous bugs, we now have many more serious things to discuss and address. Warcraft 3: Reforged is missing a large host of promised features, many that were originally in the original Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos. Thankfully WoWhead has put together the short list of missing things, which includes some fundamental aspects. Online Multiplayer content, both competitive and social, are to be included in an upcoming Reforged patch. Other systems, like player profiles and custom campaigns, remain balefully absent.

With the release of Reforged the original Warcraft 3 has been removed from the Blizzard launcher, and now uses Reforged as its base programming. As such, if you are using Reforged to play the Classic version, issues in the newer updated version pass on to the original. Such graphics issues include standard definition models having massive color, shadow and particle effects missing throughout. However most egregious is the overwriting of Reign of Chaos’ AI difficulty and stat balancing. As its expansion, The Frozen Throne, is now tied to the base product the unit balance is retained for the original campaign. Some missions in both versions of Warcraft 3 are now vastly different than before in terms of mathematics, with difficulty swinging rapidly between later campaigns.

Then we have the expected missing Reforged aspect of the game. The “complete re-imagining,” was publicly cut during Blizzcon 2019. This included the Campaign Overhaul to soft-retcon the game and bring it more in line with the “Chronicle” books, the Improved Cinematic cutscenes and the player choice to play either the original Warcraft 3 or the Reforged game. We discussed this previously as being cancelled due to fan outcry, however in further research we have been largely unable to find any public backlash against the notion with the coupling of ‘player choice.’ This has not stopped Activision-Blizzard and Blizzard Entertainment from using the 2018 ‘Cinematic Cutscene’ for the Culling of Stratholme heavily in the game’s marketing and splash page, despite it not appearing anywhere in game.

As with any online game release, Blizzard updated its terms of use and rules for Reforged. In the End User Licence Agreement for the game’s modding software, the World Editor, Blizzard fundamentally changed the rules for ownership for any custom games.

“1. Ownership Custom Games are and shall remain the sole and exclusive property of Blizzard. Without limiting the foregoing, you hereby assign to Blizzard all of your rights, title, and interest in and to all Custom Games, including but not limited to any copyrights in the content of any Custom Games. If for any reason you are prevented or restricted from assigning any rights in the Custom Games to Blizzard, you grant to Blizzard an exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, unconditional, royalty free, irrevocable liscense enabling Blizzard to fully exploit the Custom Games (or any component thereof) for any purpose in any manner whatsoever…

3. Use of Third Party Content in Custom Games. You represent and warrant that neither the content you use to create or incorporate into any Custom Games, nor the compilation, arrangement or display of such content (collectively, the “User Content”), infringes or will infringe any copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret or other intellectual property right of any third party…”

This is fairly boiler plate and expected. To put it plainly, Blizzard owns every and any aspect of whatever custom content you make in Warcraft 3: Reforged. It stops you from making money off of their content (such as Patreon-Only or ‘Early Access’) maps, and forbids you from making ‘Lord of the Rings’ maps. This, after the creation of both DotA and the entire genre of Tower Defense during the original Warcraft 3, is expected given their original lawsuit with Valve that saw the Steam developer gaining the sole rights to DotA. This sudden turn, however, has caught the community off-guard particularly with the relaxed nature of the original EULA:

“The EULA prohibits the use of Warcraft 3 or the World Editor for any commercial purpose without Blizzard’s prior written consent. In addition, the EULA restricts any distribution of “New Materials [defined as modifications of Warcraft 3 created using the World Editor] on a stand-alone basis… through any and all distribution channels, including, but not limited to, retail sales and on-line electronic distribution without the express written consent of Blizzard.”

For obvious reasons, this has set the entire community in full-tilt upheaval. Metacritic currently has Warcraft 3: Reforged sitting at a user score of 0.5, which indicates a potential review bombing of discontent by the player base. Reviews have been, socially speaking, at an all time high for Blizzard Entertainment with Reforged. Players have cited dozens of reasons from the game’s seemingly endless bugs, to fraudulent marketing with its Culling of Stratholme trailer which could be a legitimate complaint in countries such as Canada and Australia. Warcraft 3: Reforged refunds have since become automated through the Blizzard Help page.

Very clearly, this has not been a positive week. Blizzard Entertainment decided to make it worse.

Warcraft III: Reforged
In what could only be described as the most tone-deaf post in history (potentially thanks to their mass PR layoffs last year), Blizzard Entertainment posted their thoughts on the first week of Reforged on the game’s forums. Posted by Kaivax, one of the team’s community managers, the letter is signed by the entire team. While the post started well, addressing issues with well-known bugs and the promise of fixes, the letter began to derail nearly halfway through. While concerns were addressed such as the ‘missing’ cutscenes and the missing tournament mode, nearly nothing was addressed about the game’s currently revolving controversies.

The EULA was not discussed. The launch day disasters were brushed over. Missing features were promised in a future ‘major Reforged patch.’ Tournaments, despite the fact they were largely buggy and broken in later versions of Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos were not fixed and instead removed. Concerns about game quality to portions outsourced to a third-party developer.

Simply scrolling through the open letter thread gives you the large idea of where the community sits.

Warcraft 3: Reforged is a complete, utter, absolute, disgusting total disaster. There is no beating around the digital bush in saying that. Reforged is fundamentally and completely unfinished in many regards if we are describing this as the “complete re-imagining” of what was originally initial in the base game up until seven days ago. It hardly even qualifies as a remaster, as the remastered portions of the game do not compare to the original and are filled with flaws. The state of Reforged performs the cardinal sin of remastering any game; it makes one consider if the original was really all that good to begin with. The most advisable notion, at this point in the controversy, would be to remove its branding of Reforged. Label the game as a remaster, reduce its suggested retail pricing and let it rest.

Even now, a week into this disaster of a game, players will only remember one thing. It was not Blizzard Entertainment that released a truly upscaled wonderful re-imagining of their childhood. Instead, it was Blizzard Entertainment and its parent company that released a rushed, poorly cobbled together and incomplete mess. Its sad to think that with what we’ve seen over the last week this is what Blizzard’s mission statement contains on its company website:

“Blizzard polish” doesn’t just refer to our gameplay experiences, but to every aspect of our jobs. We approach each task carefully and seriously. We seek honest feedback and use it to improve the quality of our work. At the end of the day, most players won’t remember whether the game was late – only whether it was great.”

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Hearthstone Battlegrounds – Brutal Battalion Fun!

Hearthstone has always been a game of pick-up-and-play styled fun. From randomized Tavern Brawls and crazy solo challenges, the game has never taken its playstyles too seriously despite the heavily weighted Championship and World Tournament brackets. Often introducing new off the wall rules through seasonal words, changing the game with combo-building eldritch horrors and interjecting light-hearted tones into dramatic storylines. In line with this theme, the Hearthstone team have injected a new gameplay mode into the versatile online collectible card game. Enter the Battlegrounds, the new free-for-all auto-battler slaughterhouse for commanders and soldiers alike!

The auto-battle has seen a big surge in popularity. Similar endeavours such as Dota Underlord and Teamfight Tactics do just as the name suggests; line up your units and they’ll engage in card-based warfare of their own accord. Crossing cardboard, they’ll attack one after the other until one side no longer has any foes standing. Rooted in the Multiplayer Online Batter Genre, auto-battlers distill the complexity into making plays between massive slugfests. For Card Game veterans, Hearthstone’s Battlegrounds play more like Yu-Gi-Oh! than it’s Magic: The Gathering roots.

Battlegrounds start off at a breakneck pace. Eight players will load into a match, selecting one of two randomly chosen heroes to work with. Some, like Ragnaros, can deal tremendous damage by spending the mode’s currency, while others like Patchwerk have a passive Hero Power. Each round begins with you loading into the Battleground Tavern headed by Bob (who will do something, when asked). There you can spend Gold which is generated once every turn like Mana in regular play, up to a maximum of ten. From there you can pick one of several options.


The first, and most obvious, is buying monsters. Your playing field can hold up to 8 at any time, including summonables. While you can store other cards and monsters in your hand, they won’t be doing anything when they aren’t on the field. You’ll start off with weaker rank 1 monsters, but can upgrade the tavern over time through large sums of Gold. Each rank up will unlock a new pool of additional monsters to draw from, but will not replace those already unlocked. Ergo, the more you unlock the harder it is to find duplicate creatures you may be looking for. And you’ll want to find them.

Assembling three of one card will allow you to create a golden, more powerful variant of the card. While this usually just results in a flat stat increase, it may also increase the power of certain Battlecry abilities. Playing a Golden Card will also net you a token to unlock a random creature from the next available unlocked rank. Giving you a choice between three powerful cards, which are often legendaries, these can rapidly evolve your gameplay and are worth cherry picking certain creatures. One must be careful about choosing which cards to play, as your board can fill up fast.

Like the main gameplay modes, your Battleground board has a limit to how many creatures you can play at one time. Unlike the main game, however, that cap is set at roughly 8 total creatures. This includes any additional minions your cards might summon, but fear not. You can certainly clear up the board by assembling a Golden Variant, but you can also sell cards in play to Bob while you’re at the tavern for one gold each. This, on top of the 10 gold maximum cap, stops you from buying and selling minions until you have the MOST optimal field, encouraging salvaging smart moves from what is available. Sacrificing is key to optimizing what you have.


During your preparation phase, you’ll set up your board by purchasing minions to add to your hand. If you don’t like what Bob offers, you can refresh his recruiting page for a nominal fee to improve your chances, or freeze what he’s offering to purchase after your next battle when your gold resets. Playing minions from you hand will allow you to sort out their placement on the board, as well as manage their on-summon abilities. Creatures with Battlecry, for example, will not use their ability when the next battle phase begins but when you play them during your preparation time.

After your board is set (or the timer runs out) you’ll be ushered into a Combat Phase. After randomly selecting your opponent, your two teams will duke it out against each other following Hearthstone’s traditional rules. Unlike other auto-battlers, however, the Azerothian AI is a bit smarter, striking your opponent’s row from their left to right. After a brutal gladiatorial combat session, those whose minions have survived will deal a certain amount of damage. Starting with the rank of your tavern as base damage, they then add the value of their minions ranks together to calculate how much damage they’ll do to your hero. Losing all of your minions to three Rank 1 minions hurts quite a bit less knowing they will only deal 4 damage, but knowing that player has a rank 5 inn can be devastating to your play.


Unlike Ranked or Competitive Play, the Battlegrounds aren’t meant to be completely competitive despite their full-frontal rating on its main menu. After playing a few games myself, it’s hard to see how it really could be; there’s simply too much luck and random number generation to consistently take home massive wins, let alone place within the top half of your game. There are roughly 10 heroes to choose from in the game mode, and every currently allowed card in Hearthstone seems to be up for grabs when you visit Bob’s inn!

There is, however, a sense of progression in the Battlegrounds though it’s currently locked behind a pseudo-paywall. Successive wins and participating in the system will unlock more options and flexibility in your playthroughs. Winning just one event will allow you to pick from one of three heroes instead of two, with additional brackets making future runs easier. Unlocking this progression system requires purchasing a pack from Hearthstone’s upcoming expansion: Descent of Dragons. With Battlegrounds in Open Beta and this in effect, its safe to say this will find its footing and a live release on December 10th alongside the newest adventure for Azeroth’s eccentric heroes.

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Blizzard Wins the Overwatch Copyright Lawsuit in China

Blizzard wins the Overwatch copyright lawsuit in China, surprising everyone in the MMOGames office. China doesn’t exactly have the best history when it comes to copyright lawsuits and western game companies. This time though NetEase was also involved and they are the publishers of Overwatch in China.

Overwatch BCRF Charity Event - Pink Mercy

The lawsuit was against publisher 4399 Network who they originally sued in 2017 over their MOBA Heroes of Warfare. However, the article from Shanghai publication Shine states that the majority of NetEase and Blizzard’s compensation was for Clash of Fighters, which is quite likely the same game. In all 4 million yuan ($569,000) was awarded. 500,000 of that 4 million yuan was for Gunplay Battlefield, a game that has been offline since 2017. In fact, that is why a lesser amount was agreed upon.

Taking a step back to look at the bigger picture for a moment. Blizzard and NetEase’s win doesn’t signal a shift in copyright enforcement in China when foreign creators are involved. What this shows is how important it is to have a local publisher when operating in China. That is most likely why this lawsuit was successful when so many in the past haven’t been.

 

Source: Shine via Games Industry

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Five Things We Want From Diablo IV

Over the weekend, Blizzard finally revealed the latest chapter of its Diablo series with the long-awaited Diablo IV. It was an announcement that was reportedly set for last year, but the company apparently changed their minds at the last minute, opting to speak about Diablo Immortal for mobile instead. This year, though, was all about the sequel.

After presenting a new cinematic trailer, introducing the powerful Lilith into the fold, Blizzard provided a sneak peek into the gameplay. Though it’s still a work in progress, it does look like a promising evolution from Diablo III and its Eternal Collection add-ons.

Even with everything that was revealed over the weekend, there are still a few questions left about the experience that the game will bring. With that, we’ve gathered a few queries that we wouldn’t mind getting answered, though it’ll likely be a bit before Blizzard provides answers. Still, there’s always room for more information to circle around next year, right?

Let’s get started with a good one.

What other classes could come to the world of Diablo IV?

So far, three classes have been revealed for Diablo IV. There’s the Sorceress, who utilizes magical abilities and can combine them together to take down enemies, including lightning, fire and more. There’s the Barbarian, who utilizes a number of weapons to smash enemies, as well as quick, brutal strength to make his attacks count. Finally the Druid, who can not only summon special attacks from the elements (different from the Sorceress), but also transform into powerful animals, such as a bear or a wolf.

These are great classes that show off some of Diablo IV’s diverse gameplay, but it makes us wonder what others Blizzard could have in store for the game. Obviously it’s not saying yet, but keep in mind that it added new classes to Diablo III as time went on, including the Necromancer and Crusader.

So what possibilities are there? A number, actually. Along with the possible return of the Necromancer, there’s also the Paladin, the Amazon and the Monk. And they don’t all have to be entirely action oriented, either. Someone like the Witch Doctor would probably be a greatly balanced character here.

More than likely, we won’t find out who else will join this party until sometime in 2020, as the game gets closer to completion. Blizzard did say it was a long way off, but the idea that the cast can really get “out there” with a number of key additions has us hungry for more.

Will Diablo IV ever shift away to an offline world?

Previous Diablo games usually provided the option to play with others offline, though the appeal of joining an online group is always there. But with Diablo IV, the developers are taking a different route. Though you still have the option to play on your own if you prefer, you’ll need to have a consistent online connection in order to take part in the game’s experience.

Whether this will remain permanent, no one’s for sure. But it sounds like that’s the mantra Blizzard is going for, so others can join in the experience at any time — if you prefer, that is.

During the BlizzCon panel that took place during the show, lead designer Angela Del Priore made it clear why this choice was made.

“We are not going to support an offline mode. But, as I said before, nothing in Diablo IV is going to require partying up. You can play solo and dungeons are private. Campaign quest areas will (also) remain private.”

So that about covers that. It won’t be an option unless Blizzard’s team changes its mind in the future. But at least the ability to play on your own will still be there, so the Diablo world will still be your oyster. Just make sure you have a strong enough connection to keep up with this world, yeah?

How much will the open-world design affect Diablo fans?

In the past, Diablo players usually had to follow a structure with acts in order to make progress within each game. However, the team felt that Diablo IV should come with the changes needed to become more effective. As a result, there’s more of an open-world structure.

The designers call this a “contiguous” open-world, as the five regions within the world will remain fully connected to one another. This time around, the players can explore them however they see fit, having to deal with everything from varying weather effects to exploring the “hundreds” of dungeons that are available within the game.

Players can take on the content any way they see fit, or they can also go through the story in a general manner, which will suit some Diablo fans. It’s nice to have options for those that will tackle it.

For open-world, could it be too much for Diablo fans to bear? The answer is no, as the game is designed to take advantage of it, rather than making it a drag-out affair like some games that call for a grind. There are still towns to visit, which double as social hubs, and world events will pop up, with you (and potentially other players) taking on viable threats that (almost) appear out of nowhere. There’s also PvP, for players who prefer good old-fashioned combat.

So Diablo IV will retain something old, but also something new — which should cover the bases for fans, newcomers and even MMO lovers alike. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how it all unfolds once the game is done with development.

Will the game feature any kind of crossplay support?

Blizzard surprisingly announced that Diablo IV isn’t just coming to the PC front. It’s also coming to consoles, with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 confirmed for the time being. That means console and laptop/desktop owners alike will be able to enjoy everything that the game has to offer.

There’s still a question regarding its support of cross-play. After all, more and more titles are doing it now, such as the just-released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, as well as other hits like Rocket League. Being able to play with others, regardless of platform, would be a real trip for players. Alas, Blizzard had to let them down lightly. At least, for the moment.

When asked about the possibility, lead lighting artist Sean Murphy explained during the recent BlizzCon panel, “We have nothing to announce with cross-play, but that is a topic we are interested in.”

So the team didn’t entirely brush it off the table, but there’s nothing set yet. More than likely, Blizzard is interested in just getting the game done first, then considering what it’ll do in terms of online support. At the very least, PC owners will be able to connect with one another; and subscribers to Xbox Live or PlayStation Network can do the same with their respective consoles as well.

It’s a big task. Considering that Diablo IV is put together with a massive open-world structure, creating an online universe that caters to all consoles and PC’s, connected together, is a lot to ask. The possibility is there, and the team will likely look into all options before it confirms the best way to go with it.

For now, it never hurts to keep a good, steady friend list of Diablo devotees on hand. Who knows, they’re probably still playing Eternal Collection as you read this.

How will players be able to skill up properly in Diablo IV?

Both skills and talents will play a huge part in the world of Diablo IV, and players can actually decide how these all come together as they gain experience.

First up, each class once again comes with six different skill types. As before with Diablo III, you can actually choose multiple skills of the same type, rather than having to divvy them up into groups based on different types. You can still level up individual skills however you see fit, making them more powerful or potent, depending on how effectively you hit enemies. It’s a pretty sweet way to go, with a number of possibilities depending on class and the abilities you want to rank up.

As for the talent trees for each individual class, they’re huge. With each tier that you unlock, you’re able to acquire one or more talents, diversifying your character’s abilities in a number of ways. For instance, with the Barbarian, you can increase his speed to make him more effective with quick attacks; or try out Concussion and boost damage on certain foes. Those are just two of the options available; and there are less limitations here, as you can choose how you rank up accordingly. No more having to start at the top and whittle away — the choices appear to be much better with Diablo IV.

There are also Legendary items that play a part as well, and though Blizzard didn’t break these down entirely just yet, they sound like they could mix things up even further, keeping leveling up much more interesting and not so much a “grind” to make progress.

It all sounds a bit elaborate, but once you choose a class and really open up what you can do with your character, it’ll make more sense. You’ll be able to build a true bad-ass that might be able to stand up against Lilith in the long run, depending on your choices, obviously.

Bonus Question: Is there a release date?

Now comes the million dollar question — when will players be able to enjoy Diablo IV for themselves? Well, not for some time.

Like the also-announced Overwatch 2, Blizzard didn’t have a specific release date for the newest chapter of the series. They noted that it’s still “currently in development,” though fans that went hands-on with the game were pleased by the progress being made on it so far. So, at the very least, the team is deep in development, indicating that it may be further along than they’re letting on.

The platforms that were confirmed indicates that it may not be too far off for this generation. PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC were all confirmed for Diablo IV, and not a word was said about the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Scarlett, both of which will make their way to market sometime in holiday 2020. So we could see the game release in 2020, though that’s not near final.

Regarding the potential of next-gen consoles, executive producer Allen Adham noted, “We don’t have anything specific to announce with regards to next-gen consoles right now, but you bet we have our eye on them.”

Diablo has taken the multi-console release before. Both Diablo III and Diablo III: Reaper of Souls made their way to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, before the experience eventually came to Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch with the Eternal Collection. So a possible repeat instance could happen here, with XB1 and PS4 getting ports of the game at first, but then Xbox Scarlett and PS5 getting a “definitive edition” down the road, with all their content included in one convenient package.

So, for the moment, fans are waiting. And they’ll likely continue to do so over the next few months, as development moves on with Diablo IV. But it has made progress; and its announced platforms indicate that it may not be too far off when it comes to release. We’ll just have to wait and see what Blizzard has in mind once the project gets close to completion. Hopefully, it won’t be BlizzCon 2020 when we find out its fate. Fingers crossed.

What questions do you have regarding the next chapter in the Diablo franchise? Let us know!

 

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Despite Apology, Blizzard’s Hearthstone Player Ban Will Stay

During the opening of Blizzcon 2019 company president J. Allen Brack gave a bit of an apology about acting in haste to the Hearthstone player ban and the caster ban as well saying, “We moved too quickly in our decision making, and then, to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk with all of you. When I think about what I’m most unhappy about, there’s really two things: The first one is that we didn’t live up to the high standards that we set for ourselves. And the second is that we failed in our purpose. And for that, I am sorry, and I accept accountability.”

What was clearly lacking from that apology was any announcement that anything was going to change. PCGamer later got the opportunity to sit down with Brack during Blizzcon and find out more, including the fact that Blizzard is not going to go back on the ban.

PC Gamer: I wanted to revisit the statement you made at the beginning of the opening ceremony yesterday. You said Blizzard is “committed to everyone’s right to express themselves in all kinds of ways and all kinds of places,” and you made a commitment to do better going forward and that your actions are going to matter more than words do. Are you going to be repealing the punishment against Blitzchung and the two Taiwanese casters involved in this incident?

Allen Brack, Blizzard president: We are not.

Why?

So, one of the things that we talked about in the commitment to expression about all kinds of ways and all kinds of places, is the fact that we’re huge believers in free speech, and we’re huge believers in free expression. We have a long history of that being part of the culture of the company for employees. That’s certainly part of the culture of the relationship that we have with the community. And so employees are free to post on their social media accounts. If you think about the people that we have that are esports athletes, our Grandmasters, or anyone who is participating in esports, they’re free to say and do whatever they want on their social channels. I feel like we have a far more open set of guidelines and policies than really any other traditional sport that takes a view around making sure that all of the people stay on message. And so, that’s how we think about free expression and how we’ve contextualized it.

We want the official broadcasts, which are a small percentage of the overall content that gets created, to be about the games. And we want those to be focused on the games. Again, it’s not about the content of Blitzchung’s message. It’s about the fact that it was not around the games. If we hadn’t taken action, if we hadn’t done something, you can imagine the trail that would be in our future around doing interviews. They would become times for people to make a statement about whatever they wanted to, on whatever issue. That’s just a path that we don’t want to go down. We really want the content of those official broadcasts to be focused on the games, and keep that focus.

 

With regards to the casters being reinstated, you’ve admitted that this situation was mishandled on Blizzard’s behalf. I’m wondering why that same sort of forgiveness isn’t being extended to the casters? Considering Blizzard admits it mishandled this situation, why haven’t you decided to be more graceful with them and their punishment?

We have been more graceful. The initial reaction was that we would not work with the casters anymore. In our revised statement, we came to the conclusion that it felt like the casters and Blitzchung, we wanted to align their penalty. So we’ve come out and said they have a six-month penalty.

 

He also goes on to say that the Weibo post that talked about defending the pride of China was written by NetEase and was not approved by Blizzard at all. They also talk about the casters and why they are still being punished. If you are a fan of Blizzard or you know someone who is I highly recommend you read the interview on PCGamer. It will quickly make you forget the damage control that is Diablo IV and Overwatch 2.

 

Source: PCGamer

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Blizzard Says They’re Assessing the Situation Surrounding the Banned Hearthstone Player

Blizzard has said in a statement to Engadget that they are “assessing the situation for now” in regards to all of the backlash they’ve received after punishing professional Hearthstone player blitzchung for showing his support for Hong Kong during a post-match interview. Since then the backlash against Blizzard has continued with the popular hashtag #BoycottBlizzard trending on social media and hundreds canceling their subscriptions and deleting Blizzard games from their PCs.

The backlash has included Blizzard employees who took part in a small but noteworthy umbrella protest at Blizzard Headquarters. US Senator Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden have also both expressed concerns. Rubio took to Twitter to say, “China [is] using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally. Implications of this will be felt long after everyone in US politics today is gone.” While Wyden said, “Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck.”

Caster Brian Kibler has announced that he wouldn’t be participating in the upcoming Hearthstone Grandmasters. Nathan “Admirable” Zamora, another Hearthstone caster has said that he also won’t be participating in the Masters or Grandmasters.

Gods Unchained developer Immutable is offering to donate up to $100,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties non-profit online, $1 for each average viewer watching Gods Unchained on Twitch. This is because the EFF has offered to reimburse blizchung’s lost prize money.

It is a strange day when US Senators from different sides of the aisle and thousands of gamers all agree on something, and that day is here. While Blizzard’s statement is underwhelming, to say the least it is at least an acknowledgment that they have noticed the boycott and all the backlash and they are listening.

 

Source: Engadget via GamesIndustry

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Blizzard Boycott Making Waves Online with Hashtag #BoycottBlizzard

Whichever social media platform it is you like you use you’re sure to find #BoycottBlizzard getting a lot of attention at the moment. Posts using the hashtag show players unsubscribing from Blizzard games and uninstalling them as well as sharing memes that are both anti-Blizzard and anti-China.

The boycott comes after Blizzard banned pro Hearthstone player Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai and taking away all of his tournament money from this season after he showed support for the Hong Kong protests during an interview. They also fired the two casters who were interviewing him at the time.

A picture from Blizzard Headquarters shows part of the statue outside is covered, specifically the parts with the company’s core values that say “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters.” Later a group of Blizzard employees gathered at the statue carrying umbrellas, a symbol of the protests in Hong Kong.

One of the teams during the Collegiate Championship held up a sign supporting the Hong Kong protests and calling for a boycott of Blizzard. This little protest has been removed from Blizzard’s archives and so far there haven’t been any repercussions for their actions.

Now, Brian Kibler, a long-time pro caster has quit the Grandmasters in protest of Blizzard’s ban. In a statement made on BMKGaming, he said, “The heavy-handedness of it feels like someone insisted that Blizzard make an example of Blitzchung, not only to discourage others from similar acts in the future but also to appease those upset by the outburst itself. That kind of appeasement is simply not something I can in good conscience be associated with. When I learned about the ruling, I reached out to Blizzard and informed them that I no longer feel comfortable casting the Grandmasters finals at BlizzCon. I will not be a smiling face on camera that tacitly endorses this decision. Unless something changes, I will have no involvement in Grandmasters moving forward.”

In response to Blizzard’s actions, Twitter has been turning Overwatch character Mei into a symbol of the Hong Kong protesters with images like the one seen below.

So far Blizzard hasn’t made any official statements about the boycott but this is unlikely to be the end of the story.

 

Source: Twitter, Rock Paper Shotgun, BMKGaming via Polygon

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BlizzCon 2019 Virtual Ticket is Available Now

Can you believe that BlizzCon 2019 is just a month away? It’s amazing how quickly this year is passing us by. The important news now is that the BlizzCon 2019 virtual ticket is available now. As is always the case the virtual ticket comes with a collection of commemorative goodies for WoW, Overwatch, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, Heroes of the Storm, and Diablo III. What are this year’s extras you might be asking, well here’s the full list straight from Blizzard themselves.

World of Warcraft: Ride the tides of war with a pair of murloc-ified faction leaders: Finduin (for Alliance heroes) and Gillvanas (for the Horde). Plus, bundle up for your next trip to the icy mountains with the whimsical Wendigo Woolies transmog outfit. Available in-game starting today!

Overwatch: Commemorate 25 years of Azeroth as you fight for future Earth with a pair of Warcraft-themed legendary Overwatch skins. Prepare to seek vengeance as Illidan Genji, and call upon the (hard-) light of Elune as Tyrande Symmetra. In-game before BlizzCon!

Hearthstone: Celebrate the excitement of BlizzCon the next time you sit down for a duel with the BlizzCon 2019 Card Back. Then prepare to claim a mysterious Golden Legendary card, to be revealed at BlizzCon. In-game after BlizzCon!*

Heroes of the Storm: Make your mark in the Nexus with a commemorative BlizzCon spray and portrait, and ride into battle on the Celestial Deepcrawler mount. It may not look dangerous, but those claws can give you a nasty pinch . . . or wipe out all life on your planet. Available in-game starting today!

StarCraft II: Equip a trio of Brood War®–era unit skins and portraits the next time you go into battle. Scout for a zerg ambush aboard the Classic Battlecruiser, hunt your prey with the sinewy Classic Ultralisk, and honor Tassadar’s sacrifice with the Classic Carrier.  Available in-game starting today!

…And more to come: More BlizzCon bonuses are in the works, including a pair of commemorative wings for Diablo III players (PC/Mac version only)*—stay tuned for more details on this year’s legendary haul.

Along with all of that you of course get access to the various presentations that will take place at Blizzcon this year. “This year’s BlizzCon is shaping up to be our best yet, and we want to make sure everyone in the Blizzard community can experience it together, whether they’re joining us in person, from home, or hanging out in-game,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re looking forward to delivering an epic experience for those watching our free broadcasts—which we’ll have more of than ever before—and for everyone tuning in for all of the extras provided with the Virtual Ticket.”

The virtual ticket costs $49.99 and can be purchased at blizzcon.com.

 

Source: Press Release

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Blizzard Sues Glorious Saga for Being a WoW Ripoff

Blizzard has filed a lawsuit against Chinese game developer Sina Games for their mobile game Glorious Saga which they claim is “almost entirely copied from the Warcraft games and related products.”

“Every monster, creature, animal, and vehicle in the Infringing Game was copied from the Warcraft games,” the suit alleges. “Weapons, amulets, and other objects were taken straight from the Warcraft games, without pretense. Audio cues and sound effects from the Warcraft games were reproduced for the Infringing Game.”

Glorious Saga is available in the Google Play store, though in the USA it’s called Glorious World. In the lawsuit Blizzard alleges that many of Sina Games’ games are based on well-known franchises like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Naruto, and WoW. One of the things that the lawsuit points to is the mobile icon which looks nearly identical to the Battle of Azeroth expansion cover, which was a throwback to the original cover for the first Warcraft game.

This is of course hardly the first time Blizzard has had to defend itself against companies trying to profit off of their games. This is especially common with MMOs released in China. It’s rare to see them get a global release.

We’ll be following news on this lawsuit as it goes forward but it will most likely be done quietly behind the scenes and we won’t know the outcome until it’s over and even then we may never get any details.

Source: Polygon

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Another World of Warcraft Expansion Possibly Leaked

It looks like yet another future World of Warcraft expansion has possibly been leaked. We say possibly of course because right now nothing is confirmed. And we say again because this is the second rumored WoW expansion leak to happen in less than a week! Before we go any further please be aware that by reading beyond this point you might be exposed to future spoilers for World of Warcraft, continue at your own risk.

World Of Warcraft: Battle For Azeroth Expansion Giveaway

The first expansion, which was leaked last week was Age of Darkness. This expansion will allegedly see the old god N’zoth unleash a darkness that covers Azeroth. The expansion is rumored to have the Tinker class, a level squish with a new cap at 60, a new max-level progression system called Conquest, and a few improvements and reworks on systems already in the game. The supposed release window for this expansion is the end of 2020. There is however a lot of debate over whether this rumored leak can be believed. For one, the original leak as posted on 4chan has been deleted. Others have called it a laughably bad attempt at trolling the community. Right now there doesn’t seem to be much or any evidence to support the claims this rumor alleges. So for now, take this with a heaping pile of salt.

The second expansion, supposedly leaked is Shadowlands and, unlike the first, it is actually a little bit more believable. Once again, the leak came from 4chan, for anyone familiar with leaks and rumors this won’t be surprising at all. It is rumored to have two continents, Dragon Isles and Shadowlands. In fact, this is what makes the whole rumor so believable, there’s also a zone map that looks quite official. After a Youtuber made a video about the rumored Shadowlands leak he was supposedly contacted by people who had worked at Blizzard who supposedly confirmed the leak was real, including the image which supposedly came from an internal dev show and tell session. What do people think of this one? Well, it seems somewhat mixed. Plenty of people who think it’s the real deal, others who say they’ll wait and see. There are even some people who believe it is real and that Blizzard “leaked” it themselves to test the water. Whatever the case may be, we’re going to have to wait until Blizzcon to find out if there was any truth to be had.

 

Source: Reddit, ENUK

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