Speaking of Sales Figures: World of Warcraft Is Slipping

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2014 - 09:07 PM |
Tagged: wow, MMO, blizzard

World of Warcraft, the popular MMO from Blizzard Entertainment, once had 12 million subscribers registered and paying. Last month, it was down to 6.8 million. Sure, that is a lot of people to be giving you about $13 to $15 USD per month, each and every month. It is a decline, though. According to an interview with Tom Chilton, lead designer of WoW, it is, also, not expected to rebound.

We really don't know if it will grow again, (...) It is possible, but I wouldn't say it is something that we expect. Our goal is to make the most compelling content we can.

He also notes that expansion packs are barriers for entry and reentry. A quick, single-character increase to level 90 is expected to bring players straight into "the new content". Note that, prior to the upcoming expansion, this was the maximum possible level (Warlords of Draenor increases this to 100). Blizzard will also sell you, for $60, level-90 jumps for your other characters.

Or, you can just play the game.

If the trend continues to slip, at what point do you think that Blizzard will pull the plug? 1 million, active subscribers? 3.14159 million subscribers? Or, will they let World of Warcraft keep going as long as it is technically feasible? This is the company that still sells the original StarCraft, from 1998, at retail (unless something happened just recently).

Source: Ars Technica

Rob Pardo, Former Chief Creative Officer at Blizzard, Resigns

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2014 - 04:08 AM |
Tagged: blizzard

After 17 years at Blizzard, the developers of the Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft franchises, Chief Creative Officer Rob Pardo resigned on July 3rd. He was credited as the lead designer of StarCraft: Brood War, Warcraft III and its Frozen Throne expansion, and World of Warcraft and its Burning Crusade expansion. He has not announced any future plans, except to be a better Twitter user.

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Of course, several projects that he influenced are still on their way, even after he leaves the company. Beyond the games, he notes that eSports and the upcoming Warcraft movie are initiatives that he looks back on with pride, in terms of his contributions.

Source: Blizzard

The Top 20 PC Games of April, According to Raptr

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2014 - 04:27 AM |
Tagged: steam, raptr, origin, blizzard

Raptr is a service for PC gamers to adjust graphics settings, earn loyalty rewards, and "powers" AMD's Gaming Evolved app, which adds driver updating and Twitch streaming to the previous list of features. It has a sizable user base, tens of millions internationally, which allows them to rank PC games by popularity. While it is not a perfect sample space, it tracks both Steam and non-Steam games. The leaders might make you say, "LoL, WoW!"

I am fully comfortable with myself after that pun.

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As you can probably guess, League of Legends is the most popular PC title, with 14.5% market share (with respect to time). WoW and Diablo III are almost a tie for second-and-third at 8.56% and 8.53%, respectively. DOTA II is next at 5.81% and The Elder Scrolls Online is fifth, with 3.78% of all game time.

Surprisingly, the tail is pretty long after that. In fact, the entire Top 20 takes up just 63% of play time, with the 21st place and lower, by definition, having less than a 0.73% share. This is a slow decline, leaving room for theoretically fifty games with Skyrim-level popularity. Several games just below the list are probably very close to one another.

I should also note that, since this is based on time, it probably skews toward long and intensive titles. This probably explains Diablo III, MMOs, and Minecraft as those games are played for hours if they are played at all. This really puts Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and, to a lesser extent, Battlefield 4 into perspective, with their series of short rounds.

Off the list since March is Titanfall, Rust, and Path of Exile. The first two are fairly surprising. Titanfall just launched and, it would seem, has not kept its players gaming habitually. Rust, on the other hand, is surprising because it is popular and, to my understanding, typically involves long play sessions.

At the very least, it puts context around Steam vs. Battle.net vs. Wargaming.net vs. Origin.

Source: Raptr

The never-ending Battle.net -- intrusion detected.

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2012 - 09:32 PM |
Tagged: blizzard

Blizzard has declared that their Battle.net service has recently been attacked. Some information has been compromised and as such Blizzard will force users to change their security questions and answers in the next few days. Mobile authenticator users will also need to update the software on their second factor authenticator.

I think we all know the story by now: cloud services will be attacked, a lot, and some will succeed.

Blizzard has declared that their Battle.net service has been intruded upon. The invasion compromised the email addresses associated with your account as well as the answer to your security question. The second-factor authenticators were also attacked and will receive an update shortly. Attackers have also received passwords protected by the Secure Remote Password (SRP) protocol.

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Blizzard clouds bring flurries.

Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Once again, this sort of thing happens all of the time. The key is to security in an age where information is transmitted and stored freely is to always keep in mind what you entrust each service with. If you give a service your email address you need to consider what an attacker could accomplish with this information. When combined with the email addresses of your friends an attacker could send you an email pretending to be one of those friends. They could also associate you with users on many other services to either make a more convincing spoof of you, or know who they are attacking somewhere else.

You must be responsible with your information and you must realize you are trusting the service to do the same.

In this case, Blizzard protected passwords using the SRP protocol. This protocol if properly implemented includes hashing and salting all passwords to make reversing a password incredibly difficult. It is possible to create a database of known scrambled messes in hopes that some user will have a password. The more obscure your password means it will be less likely to be available to be compared to.

If Blizzard implemented the protocol correctly then they did their part. Ultimately it is up to the user to have their trust match the likelihood and damage of one or more attacks. This is true whenever you handle your information – never become complacent or you will have to forgive yourself at some point.

While attackers getting innovative means they are losing economic viability – it also means users will need to consider all possible ways they can be compromised.

Source: Blizzard

How consoles would have gouged Diablo 3 over $44 million

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 29, 2012 - 05:04 PM |
Tagged: diablo iii, consoles, blizzard

Matt Ployhar of Intel has posted on their Software Blogs about how much money in royalties would be given to Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo if Diablo 3 were published on a console platform. Activision-Blizzard along with a couple of other publishers recently pocket the difference -- but unlike the consoles it is not an actual cost so the publishers can, and many do, lower their prices to the $50 point at launch. It really shows how expensive the seemingly cheaper console platforms really are.

So who would make a device for $805 to sell it for $499 after billions in research, development, and marketing?

Sony does and they get that money back from you in good time -- subtly.

The perception of consoles being a cheaper gaming platform than the PC is just a perception. Over the lifespan of the platform you can pay less for a better experience with a somewhat larger upfront cost on the PC. You are paying a premium with the consoles to experience exclusive titles that are only exclusive because you allowed the platform to charge you to pay the publisher to make it exclusive. Imagine how that cost grows if you own multiple consoles?

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But I find good value in paying extra so that others cannot play too.

Matt Ployhar of the Intel Software Blogs does a very rough calculation of how much Blizzard would have paid Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo had their game been on a console platform. With 6.3 million units of Diablo 3 sold in the last two weeks and a typical royalty rate of $7-10 per game sale for console platforms the platform owner would take $44-63 million away from Blizzard.

This means that you would have been paying the platform owner $44-63 million to have Diablo 3 be placed on a platform which will be unsupported probably long before you finish with your game.

Blizzard has been selling Diablo 2 since the Nintendo 64 era. Consoles are paid to be disposable, the PC is not.

Source: Intel Blog

Other than an internet connection, what hardware do you need for Diablo III?

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2012 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: gaming, diablo iii, blizzard

TechSpot wanted to see what effect your graphics card has on your experience while slaughtering mobs of baddies in Diablo III.  First they removed any chance of a CPU bottleneck by building a test bed using an i7-3960X and then they gathered over two dozen GPUs to test with, ranging from a Radeon HD 6450 to a GTX 680 and almost everything in between.  At lower resolutions all but the slowest seven cards and Intel's HD4000 were able to give 60fps or more but at 2560x1600 only half of the cards they tested could make 60fps or better.  It is interesting to see that the GTX680 and HD7970 offer the same performance at the upper end of the resolutions they tested but you should expect that to change as drivers mature.

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"While we disagree with making single player components online-only, there isn't much mere mortals like us can do about it. What we can do, however, is beat the hell out of Diablo III with today's finest hardware. Blizzard has somewhat of a reputation for making highly scalable titles that run on virtually any gaming rigs, so that's largely what we expect from the developer's latest offering..."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: TechSpot

Blizzard stimming eSports. Will it lose 10 or 20 health?

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2012 - 04:16 AM |
Tagged: starcraft 2, blizzard

Blizzard announces the Starcraft II World Championship Series. Tournaments will be held by qualifier region, country, continent, and world-wide. Winning a stage qualifies you for the next stage leading to a single global winner.

There are an astonishing number of tournaments for Starcraft II compared to almost any other strategy game. The game was made famous by its promotion of both the macrogame of economy and production as well as the microgame of control and positioning. Also, each of the three races balances each other by being entirely different, rather than in spite of it.

Due to the many different play styles as well as the imbalance of information between players and spectators, Starcraft has become a very entertaining spectator sport.

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At the end of the tournament they should pummel the winners with water guns.

Yes, water guns. Blizzard would never Nerf a Terran.

At the end of the tournament, an officially Blizzard-recognized champion of Starcraft will be crowned. Currently a few handfuls of players are crowned the winner of some tournament only to be overthrown at some other tournament sponsored by some other company. While the unofficial tournaments such as MLG and GSL will obviously still continue to flourish, Blizzard seems to want to control an official result that they recognize.

It is still unclear whether the event will be recurring and at what frequency. Though, chances are, not even Blizzard knows at this point.

Participating countries are listed in their blog posting. Surprisingly, Japan is not present alongside China and South Korea. Official dates have yet to be announced except that the tournament itself is expected to run this year.

Source: Blizzard

Blizzard Letting 600 Employees Go

Subject: General Tech | February 29, 2012 - 09:53 PM |
Tagged: gaming, business, blizzard

Blizzard recently announced that they analyzed their current business needs and have decided to perform a global reduction of their workforce to streamline operations. The bad news upfront is that this reduction in workforce entails the company letting go approximately 600 employees worldwide. They have stated that the majority of departments being cut are not related to the game development divisions

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More specifically, they stated that 90% of the employee reductions will be from departments not related to game development. Also, they noted that the World of Warcraft (WoW) development team "will not be impacted." Blizzard believes that the cuts were a necessary part of decisions relating to a company with changing needs in an ever evolving industry. CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime, stated that they are proud of the contributions those effected by the announcement have made for Blizzard and they "wish them well as they move forward."

Job cuts are never an easy decision, especially for the employees. I wish them all the best of luck in continuing their careers and other future endeavors.

Source: VG24/7