News from the video game industry for the week of November 2
Every Sunday Electronista and MacNN report on some of the happenings of the video game industry during the past week. In this week's edition, we take a look at Microsoft's purchase of Mojang finalizing, Blizzard's new expansions for Starcraft II and Hearthstone, Unity asset development payouts, Grand Theft Auto 5 first-person mode on next-gen consoles, and Electronic Arts terminating its multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, Dawngate.
First new franchise in 17 years announced at BlizzCon, first shooter developed
At BlizzCon 2014, Blizzard Entertainment shocked fans by unveiling Overwatch, a team-based shooter game that is coming to beta in 2015. Overwatch marks the first new intellectual property for Blizzard in 17 years, with the company jumping back into the shooter genre for the first time since it toyed with Starcraft: Ghost in 2002. The title features a wide array of heroes with a loose storyline, giving players a number of options to enjoy.
News from the video game industry for the week of October 19
Every Sunday Electronista and MacNN report on some of the important bits of news from the world of video games. In this week's edition we take a look at Blizzard bringing Hearthstone to smartphones, EA's Battlefield 4 lawsuit dismissal, Assassin's Creed: Unity system requirements, Carbine Studios layoffs, and more.
First expansion for Blizzard game in the works, bringing more than 100 new cards
A new expansion for Blizzard's popular online card game Hearthstone is reportedly in the works. Production Direction Jason Chayes spoke with Polygon this week, informing the publication that more than 100 new cards are being produced as a part of the game's first expansion. Chayes said that the developer has thought a lot about the pacing of not only the game, but also in how content is released. He adds that Blizzard was pleased with the reception of the Curse of the Naxxramas add-on, which only added 30 cards to the game.
Sony's prepares to shut down PlayStation Home in all regions in March 2015
It appears that Japan and Asia regions won't be the only areas losing PlayStation Home next year. Community managers have posted on the PlayStation Home community boards in the North American and European regions, claiming that the service is shutting down on March 31, 2015. The date is the same that was previously announced for the Asia and Japan regions, though at the time Sony specifically denied that any other regions would be shuttered.
Projected cancelled as the company 'didn't find the fun' after a year in reevaluation
Blizzard fans waiting for details on the massively multiplayer online (MMO) game codenamed Titan to be officially revealed from the developer should be set for disappointment, as the company announced it has cancelled development. While the game was never officially announced by Blizzard, it has been teased for several years as the next-generation MMO to follow the company's successful World of Warcraft.
Several companies confirm attacks as service returns, hacking group claims responsibility
Some of the most popular gaming services are reportedly under attack as a series of distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) has been underway since last week. Shacknews reports that Blizzard, Grinding Gear Games, PlayStation Network, Riot and Sony Online Entertainment have all been undergoing a series of attacks leading to connection instabilities and service failures. While the attack was initially thought to be limited to a few companies, it's been discovered that several additional gaming services and websites have been targeted as far back as August 18 by a hacking group.
Game in decline since 2010, developer hopes barriers are removed in next expansion
It appears that Blizzard Entertainment realizes what the numbers have been saying for years. A designer for World of Warcraft recently admitted that the company is no longer expecting growth in its player base. Player subscriptions have been in decline for the game since it peaked at 12 million in 2010, with only a small rise in 2012 with the release of the Mists of Pandaria expansion.
Warlords of Draenor release set for a November 13, one week after BlizzCon
Residents of Azeroth no longer need to wait in anguish for their next series of adventures. Blizzard Entertainment announced today that the fifth expansion for the massive multiplayer online (MMO) role-playing game World of Warcraft is going to be released later this year. During a live event in Los Angeles, Blizzard said gamers could expect Warlords of Draenor on November 13.
Lead World of Warcraft designer leaves company for the 'next chapter'
Rob Pardo, chief creative officer for Blizzard Entertainment, announced that he is leaving the company today after being a part of the team for 17 years. He has a number of design credits with Blizzard, including Starcraft, Diablo III and World of Warcraft. Pardo took to Battle.net to explain his departure from the company.
Filing claims cheat devalues game, developers commit copyright infringement
An article from Torrentfreak outlines a legal battle between Starcraft II creators Blizzard and a number of unnamed defendants over the creation of a maphack cheat said to alter the online experience. The lawsuit, filed in California federal court, levies three different charges of copyright infringement, trafficking in circumvention devices, breach of contract and interference with contractual relations.
iOS release was initially restricted to smaller regions
The iPad version of Blizzard's card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is now available at App Stores worldwide. The app was actually released for the iPad earlier this month, but only in the form of a soft launch at the Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand App Stores. Mac and PC versions of Hearthstone have been available for some time.
Blizzard's Warcraft-themed Hearthstone card game adds single-player campaign
Blizzard yesterday at PAX East announced a new single-player campaign for its Warcraft-themed card game, Hearthstone. Curse of Naxxramas: A Hearthstone Adventure is comprised of five dungeon wings to progress through, gaining new cards for one's Hearthstone collection by defeating iconic bosses along the way. Upon earning the cards, players can start using them in their desks right away.
Chrome for iOS update now available, introduces data-compression tool
Google has released its latest Chrome for iOS update, which includes several features previously unannounced. Security improvements and the addition of Google Translate are now live, as was previously reported, however the update has also introduced a new data-compression tool. Aiming to help reduce data usage while browsing, the data-compression feature can reduce browsing data usage by up to 50 percent.
Suit claims Blizzard made $26 million on extra security
Blizzard is facing a class-action lawsuit over its sale of authenticators. Benjamin Bell is suing both Blizzard and corporate parent Activision Blizzard for making $26 million by "deceptively and unfairly" charging for the $6.50 keychain, which gives the entire Battle.net system a second layer of security, and to stop the company from requiring its users to sign up for a Battle.net account in order to play games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo II.
Watermark by Blizzard found in images captured since 2008
Blizzard has reportedly been caught watermarking screenshots generated by one of its games. Sendatsu, a user of the OwnedCore forums, claims to have noticed what appears to be artifacts in a screenshot that, after examining multiple images going as far back as 2008, was apparently found to contain details about the user, items not initially viewable from looking at the screenshot subjectively.
Lost data reportedly insufficient to allow illicit battle.net access
World of Warcraft and Diablo III developer Blizzardhas announced an intrusion into its internal network. Some data was illegally accessed, including the global Battle.net user email list outside of China, the answer to personal security questions on North American servers, encrypted Battle.net passwords, and information relating to Mobile app and Dial-in authenticators. According to Blizzard, the information alone isn't sufficient for unauthorized parties to gain access to Battle.net accounts.
Activision-Blizzard also addresses security concerns
Diablo III will get its first patch next week, according to Activision-Blizzard community manager 'Nethaera'. The incoming client-side patch will fix a number of bugs, including one that breaks the game, as well as a number of alterations to class skills to balance gameplay. Security concerns and the real-money auction house were also discussed in the forum post.
Global sales head Spence leaves RIM
Patrick Spence, 14-year veteran of Research in Motion (RIM) and its head of global sales, has departed the company. Spence "will be taking on a leadership position in a different industry," according to RIM spokeswoman Rebecca Freiburger. No comment has been made if the move is in response to the announcement of RIM's new Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer three weeks ago.
Software Restore Solutions claims Apple copying
Software Restore Solutions late Wednesday sued Apple (below) over claims Mac OS X copied its technology. According to the complaint, "at least" the Disk Utility feature in every version of Mac OS X from the 2001 original through to Snow Leopard copies one claim in a workgroup network manager patent from 1998. Apple supposedly knows the automated repair features could infringe on the patent but has shown "deliberate indifference" towards the consequences.
Licensed accessories enhance D3 game experience
Steelseries has announced two new game-themed accessories, the Diablo III mouse and Diablo III headset. Game-specific design features include Diablo III artwork and "demon red" LEDs that can be set to pulse at different rates. On the practical side of things, they use double-braided nylon cord to reduce tangling and gold-plated connectors. The headset has 50mm drivers and a retractable boom mic. The ambidextrous mouse has seven programmable buttons and a CION laser sensor that can be set up to 5,000 CPI.
Sequel arrives after 12-year wait
Blizzard this week launched StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the long-in-development sequel to its popular 1998 real-time strategy game. The new title follows Jim Raynor, who has become a rebel leader trying to bring down the Dominion for crimes of genocide. While the original StarCraft had Terran, Protoss and Zerg campaigns, the sequel revolves mostly around the Terrans in a 29-mission single-player mode. A few side missions give players a taste for Protoss units.
Razer shows StarCraft II branded peripherals
Computer gaming peripherals maker Razer on Tuesday partnered with game maker Blizzard Entertainment on three new StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty-branded gaming peripherals. This includes the Spectre mouse, Marauder keyboard and the Banshee headset. The three share Razer's APM (Actions-Per-Minute) lighting system, have StarCraft styling cues and are portable.
Razer to intro peripherals
PC gaming peripherals maker Razer on Tuesday announced it will soon reveal some new, high-end controllers for Blizzard's StarCraft II strategy game, with some placeholders already on its site for upcoming peripherals that include a mouse, keyboard and headset. The hardware maker promises the devices will be tournament-grade, though no other specific information was revealed.
Microsoft Talking New Xbox
Blizzard executive VP Rob Pardo yesterday told guests of the Luminaries Lunch that his company and Microsoft were already discussing the latter's plans for a sequel to the Xbox 360. While not providing details on any of Microsoft's goals for the future game system, the developer mentioned to GI and others that his firm was in active talks and suggested he would advocate for a new controller method that would solve many of the roadblocks for porting over PC-like games that need more advanced input, such as real-time strategy games like Starcraft II.