World of Warcraft has shown itself to be a resilient game. Once riding high on the subscriber numbers of the Wrath of the Lich King Expansion, the number of people paying their $15 a month has dropped off pretty steadily. After receiving an uptick of people paying up last year, it seems Blizzard’s title is back on the slow decline. Back in July, Blizzard said during an Activision earnings call that the game had lost some 600,000 subscribers, going from 8.3 million to 7.7 million. The earnings call today also reported a loss in subscribers, but nothing remotely as dire. World of Warcraft went from 7.7 million subscribers, to 7.6 million. While it sucks that 100,000 people are no longer paying their $15 a month (me being one of those people), that is still a lot of people paying for the privilege of snagging 15 moose pelts for a walrus man.
On the upside though, over 1 million people have pre-ordered the next WoW expansion, Warlords of Draenor. No doubt a lot of people did it for the Level 90 boost that comes with it, but that is exactly the kind of bonus that would get a lot of WoW fans buying early. If the pre-order number is any indication, it seems Blizzard will probably be reporting a good uptick in subscribers when Warlords of Draenor is eventually released.
Source: Game Informer
I did not like Diablo III. It was polished to all hell, in the way Blizzard always does with its products, and on the surface played like a Diablo game. But in the core design something was flawed. The whole game was built around this online Auction House, which just ruined the game inside and out. Blizzard took what had been a basically flawless loot treadmill in Diablo II and just threw it all into the trash. Forcing you to rely on the Auction House for level-appropriate gear due to enemies dropping under-powered crap, an extra layer was added to the gameplay loop that had no business being there.
However, in this age of digital delivery and patches, there have been companies out there willing to take their games that were misguided, miscalculated, or just bad in some of their features and tweak, or in some cases change aspects outright in order to bring the product more in line with consumer expectations. Blizzard has done this a lot over the years with their World of Warcraft product, remaking the game with every expansion in response to evolving design challenges and player expectations. This attitude has since been brought over to the Diablo product, with the Reaper of Souls expansion. Definitely a good choice. Continue Reading
Well it’s finally out in the wild. After months of beta testing, and really smooth game play, Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is now officially released. While nothing big has been changed in the release patch, Blizzard has made a few changes that aims to make Hearthstone a game literally anyone in the world can play, against anyone in the world. Past that, WoW players who also play Hearthstone will get an easy mount, and there are new card backs to be earned. But really, what matters is that it is a truly free to play, great game that offers a near-endless amount of enjoyment. I plan on writing something longer about this game, but I have a simple message that overshadows the details of a review. I can say to anyone: Go try it.
Source: Hearthstone Website
I play League of Legends…very occasionally. Normally it is when my better half wants to play, and I spend the entire match trying not to embarrass myself around all the level 30’s I am playing with (I am only level 17). I only know a small portion of the characters, and I really don’t get why on a conceptual level, you only get gold for delivering the last hit on a minion. Really, it seems like weird design to me that we’re supposed to actively throttle ourselves. Well it seems Blizzard agrees, as that is something the Blizzard MOBA, Heroes of the Storm has done away with. Couple other streamlining elements like that with my innate familiarity of Blizzard characters, and I am set up to finally find a MOBA I really want to get into. This video…also helps. A lot. Looks so good.
In anticipation of the expansion Reaper of Souls, Blizzard has put out patch 2.0.1, which is a huge update that basically overhauls the entire game. Remember how Blizzard announced the Diablo 3 Auction Houses were closing, and a new loot system was being put in place? This is that patch. While the Auction Houses are still open for now, they will hopefully be pointless as items enemies drop from here on out will be more useful to your character as you’re playing, as opposed to just vendor trash. Also helping that along is the fact the difficulty system has been revamped, and enemies now dynamically level up with you, and have an adjustable slider so you can customize how you want to play at that moment.
It seems like every class also got looked at, with various abilities tweaked across the board. Stats have also been changed on weapons, re-classifying them in a fashion that really seems to mirror World of Warcraft more than anything. There’s even some new, tertiary stats, much like one would see in Warlords of Draenor. Other quality of life changes have also been included, most promising is that the crafting system got an overhaul, presumably to make it even halfway useful. That would really be nice. To a degree, this seems almost a shame, this looks like the Diablo 3 Blizzard should have set out to make from the start. It seems a lot easier to understand, and doesn’t muddle up the tried-and-true loot system by adding an annoying middle man in the form of the Auction House.
I finished Torchlight 2 recently, and thought I was kind of done with this sort of game for a bit, but reading the frankly extensive patch notes has me thinking it may be time to go back and do more of this game. Before you download this patch though, just know it is a big one, and it actually has to reconfigure the game files. So not only will it take a while to complete, but it will actually slow down your computer while it is all being put in. You may want to start this process right before you have to leave the house, or before going to bed. But in any case, if you already have the game, it seems this patch gives you the game you really wanted from the start. If you don’t already own Diablo 3, the upcoming expansion seemingly just gives you another reason to question your choices in life.
Source and Image Source: Battle Net
Diablo 3 has an expansion coming out next month, titled Reaper of Souls, but I am sure many of you knew that. There have already been some pre-order bonuses announced, which follow the standard of going across Blizzard’s myriad properties, and as such, really rewarding the Blizzard devotee. A pair of new rewards has been announced, which will be available to anyone purchasing the expansion before March 31, 2014, nearly a week after the release of the game itself. Leading this pair is an item actually meant for Diablo 3, The Wings of Valor artifact. This appears to give your character glowing wings. It looks nice, and cosmetic items tend to be very good giveaways, as they don’t change anything in the gameplay.
However, the real big deal here is the other thing being offered. Valla the Demon Hunter. Looking like a normal Demon Hunter from Diablo 3, this isn’t a reward affecting Diablo 3 itself. What it is though, is a reward for the upcoming Blizzard MOBA, Heroes of the Storm. That’s right, with the pre-purchase, or opening week purchase of Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls, you get a free character for Heroes of the Storm. I would not be surprised if that alone drove more than a few pre-orders. You can head over to Battle Net to pre-order the expansion at any time.