Archive for July, 2010

Blizzard Reverses Course, Real Names to Not Be Required on Official Forums

Blizzard made an announcement this morning I thought they wouldn’t make. Here’s the meat from Nethera’s post on the official forums about it, where she’s reposting a message from Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime:

Hello everyone,

I’d like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. We’ve been constantly monitoring the feedback you’ve given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.

It’s important to note that we still remain committed to improving our forums. Our efforts are driven 100% by the desire to find ways to make our community areas more welcoming for players and encourage more constructive conversations about our games. We will still move forward with new forum features such as the ability to rate posts up or down, post highlighting based on rating, improved search functionality, and more. However, when we launch the new StarCraft II forums that include these new features, you will be posting by your StarCraft II Battle.net character name + character code, not your real name. The upgraded World of Warcraft forums with these new features will launch close to the release of Cataclysm, and also will not require your real name.

I want to make sure it’s clear that our plans for the forums are completely separate from our plans for the optional in-game Real ID system now live with World of Warcraft and launching soon with StarCraft II. We believe that the powerful communications functionality enabled by Real ID, such as cross-game and cross-realm chat, make Battle.net a great place for players to stay connected to real-life friends and family while playing Blizzard games. And of course, you’ll still be able to keep your relationships at the anonymous, character level if you so choose when you communicate with other players in game. Over time, we will continue to evolve Real ID on Battle.net to add new and exciting functionality within our games for players who decide to use the feature.

In closing, I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that Every Voice Matters, ( http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/mission.html ) and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games. We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard’s success from the beginning.

Mike Morhaime
CEO & Cofounder
Blizzard Entertainment

I didn’t think Blizzard was going to retract the policy this way, but clearly the demand got to them and they decided that this was a bad idea.

So, now let’s see if the people who threatened to or went ahead and canceled their subscriptions return to the game, or if the spectre of Real ID in other forms and implementations is enough to keep people away from the game for privacy concerns. What do you think about the reversal? Sound off in the comments!

More on Real ID: Who’s Behind This? What Should I do?

In the past few days, the controversy over Real ID and the changes to the forums that require real names to be displayed next to posts has all but dominated the WoW-community and then some. Major news outlets have covered the changes, Blizzard has come under fire from players and non-players alike, and while most of it has to do with both the fact that the changes to the forums (especially the customer support and technical support forums, where users come for help) are unwanted, some of it has rightfully become a larger discussion about Real ID and what Blizzard’s intentions were when they announced it.

Some people have gone so far as to assert that Blizzard isn’t behind this at all. From the World of Warcraft Livejournal Community comes this story about how at least one person on the inside has said that Blizzard employees are as angry about the change as players are, and that this is a directive coming down from Blizzard’s Activision overlords:

“Got in touch with my ex-flatmate, whose sister works as a GM for Blizzard, to see what the internal buzz on this was. Apparently, at the moment the employees are largely as pissed as the players, and she stated that despite attempts to keep it hushed, it has become known that the big creative players within Blizzard are pretty much as unhappy about this as we are. Everybody has been told they are not free to comment on this situation outside of specially prepared statements.

It’s still going ahead, however (and here’s where in-house rumours and hearsay really start coming into play): from what they’ve picked up, the Blizzard leads have been told in no uncertain terms that the non-gameplay-related direction of the game is working to a different blueprint now. GC and company are free to play with shiny new talent trees all they like, for example, but for the first time the decisions regarding Battle.net implementation, Real ID, and plans for the general acquisition of new players for the business are no longer in Blizzard’s own hands, and that’s not going down too well.”

I would buy this, actually – although Blizzard has made some pretty unpopular moves in the past, this is by far the worst, and Blizzard would have to know it. It’s also likely that this is why they took so much heat when the rumor (not confirmed to not be true) arose that their employees may have been exempt from the new forum rules. It’s possible that the idea was floated that Blizzard employees would be exempt, and then due to the already simmering backlash, it was retracted quickly.

A number of people have taken to the torches and pitchforks, and a few other people have already cancelled their accounts due to the change. While I tend to have a more metered approach to things (and I don’t actually plan on canceling my account,) I applaud the dedication to conviction that those people are showing.

The problem I see here though is that Blizzard and Activision both know how to ignore the forums by now – they probably assumed they got all of the value they could get from the complaints on the forums in the first 24 hours, and now people are just piling on – they may be discounting a great deal of player anger due to the echo chamber of the web. From the cancellation perspective, we have to keep in mind that over 12-million people play World of Warcraft worldwide, and if even 120,000 people quit over the Real ID fiasco, that would only amount to ONE PERCENT of the global player base.

So, you’re likely thinking, am I defending them or throwing my hands up because it’s all hopeless anyway? Not at all. I say vote with your voices, vote with your feet, and vote with the tools that Blizzard has given us. Over at Wow.com, there’s an excellent post about how to opt-out of Real ID that I think everyone should at least read, if not follow directly if you plan to continue playing.

I would suggest players that simply can’t play the game anymore because they can’t stand this kind of Facebook-style data exposure should, without hesitation, cancel their accounts. And not just through the Web form, although that’s the easiest way to do it – I think they should call Blizzard’s customer support line and let them know directly that the reason you’re cancelling your account is because of the forum changes and the intrusive policy changes made with regard to Real ID.

In fact, even if you decide you want to continue playing, I think you should lodge your complaint with Blizzard about the changes and about the policies, and let them know that while you will still play the game, your support for them has diminished significantly (as mine has.)

A number of posters at the Livejournal Community have taken it a step farther, which I can’t really oppose: Hit Activision/Blizzard where it hurts: in their shareholder’s wallets. Sell their shares, whatever little you may hold, and make your complaints about their policies public.

Many people are comparing Real ID and these changes to Facebook’s infamous policies and dodging questions around the integrity of personal data that users trust with the service, deriding Facebook and Zynga (makers of Farmville, Fishville, and all of those other games I can’t really stand) for similar practices. As much as we may hate all of those entities, the fact of the matter is that Facebook and Zynga’s partnership is a multi-million dollar deal in a multi-billion dollar “social gaming” industry, and Activision/Blizzard is bound to want to get in on that kind of action. Similarly, for all of the fuss over Facebook’s privacy policies and “Quit Facebook Day” and the massive Internet echo chamber around all of it, a ridiculously minute number of people actually left Facebook for it, the Diaspora Project is still nowhere near off the ground, and the furor has all but blown over. Activision/Blizzard is hoping, as will likely happen, that this will all blow over in a few weeks.

Finally, whatever you choose to do with your wallets or your accounts, vote with your voice and make it clear that you’re concerned deeply about the changes on whatever forums you choose, in whatever manner you choose. Again, I wave people off of the Official Forums because Blizzard is used to ignoring them by now, but the fact that the blog community and the gaming community are in the middle of a firestorm about this and even the mainstream media has picked up the story (albeit their take on it is largely “accountability first, Blizzard is cleaning up their forums, and oh yeah some people are mad about it) mean that there’s traction to the story, whatever your take on it is.

All of those things are small things that individuals can do, but collectively Activision/Blizzard will (if they’re not already) pay attention to the concern of their customers. I’m optimistic that the concerns of the community and the players will actually be heard, but I’m also a stark realist when it comes to technology and privacy. Away from the game, I work at a company whose business is information, and on the side I’m a technology writer. I know how these things play out, and the power of the echo chamber for the minority doesn’t always overcome the apathy of the masses.

Even so, that shouldn’t stop any of us from doing what we think is right, and at the very least what we think is best for our personal privacy and our personal data that we’d like to keep private.

What do you think? Will you be cancelling your account over the changes? Have you already done so? On the other hand, do you think this is all overblown and the “what-if” of the changes have been overstated? Perhaps you’re just planning on opting out of Real ID and moving on?

Some people have said that the breaking point for them is when/if Real ID makes its way to the Armory and characters will be rolled up under people’s real names – what would you do then? Let us know in the comments!

Changes to Talents and Class Mastery Coming in Cataclysm

Below the radar, since all of the discussion these past few days has been around the Real ID fiasco and topics related to it, Blizzard announced some significant changes to the way talents will be handled when Cataclysm comes out.

First of all, you’ll pick a single tree and focus on it from the get-go, instead of the confusion that came from hitting level 10 and having three trees wide open for you to play with (that all eventually boiled down to having one single tree and type of spec to focus on when you were max level) and class mastery will come from a combination of your chosen talents and items that will start appearing in the world as drops when you hit level 78.

Here’s the highlight from Zarhym’s post on the forums about the changes:

When players reach level 10, they are presented with basic information on the three specializations within their class and are asked to choose one. Then they spend their talent point. The other trees darken and are unavailable until 31 points are spent in the chosen tree. The character is awarded an active ability, and one or more passive bonuses unique to the tree they’ve chosen. As they gain levels, they’ll alternate between receiving a talent point and gaining new skills. They’ll have a 31-point tree to work down, with each talent being more integral and exciting than they have been in the past. Once they spend their 31’st point in the final talent (at level 70), the other trees open up and become available to allocate points into from then on. As characters move into the level 78+ areas in Cataclysm, they’ll begin seeing items with a new stat, Mastery. Once they learn the Mastery skill from their class trainer they’ll receive bonuses from the stat based on the tree they’ve specialized in.

This effectively means that everything you know about talents has and will change. First, you choose a tree at level 10 and until you have 31 points in that tree, you can’t start dumping points into other trees. When you have 31 points in one tree, the others are available. Also, Mastery will not just appear on items dropped in the world, you’ll also be able to get it from a trainer when you level. Since there’ll be fewer talent points to go around, it won’t be one-per-level like it used to be; it’ll be one for just about every other level.

Make sure you check out the whole announcement to understand how it’ll change things – this is effectively Blizzard’s way to redoing the way talents are handled in the game, and to try and remove some of the monotony around picking a talent tree and going with it because there’s inevitably “only one right way to spec,” as is largely true today.

More Real ID: A Female Perspective

Originally I wasn’t going to post this here. I was going to post on my personal blog because the blog entry was inevitably going to turn into a diatribe about misogyny, racism, and homophobia. The fury raging in my veins right now started back on the 2nd, when WoW.com posted a Drama Mamas article on racism and general hate speech. Sure I was enraged. I also happily tucked my tail between my legs and went back to not letting anyone know in game that I do, in fact, have girl parts in real life.

Then I wrote about the true and real concerns about Real ID and cautioned readers as well as players to be careful with whom they friend using the Real ID system. Then the lovely Alan writes an informative entry about what is to happen to the Blizzard forums. Then WoW. com opened up the discussion to their readers to find out what the general consensus might be. Insert rumors. Insert the information of employees being handed out all over the internet.

Alan brought up some very valid and very important points to consider. Not everyone who plays WoW does so with no real life concerns over their identity. Many players have had their identities stolen. Many players have had their accounts hacked. Some players are in witness protection programs. Others have been stalked by pissed off guild members. Others still have violent ex’s or family members they’d like to not know about. Some have jobs that are dependent on the current form of anonymity available through the WoW forums. Some have been raped. Others have been abused. The list goes on and on.

The raging feminist in me is downright pissed. Teetering on the verge of tears every time I think about someone I know getting stalked by some creeper from WoW, or anywhere for that matter. Affixing your full name to forum posts opens the door up for search engines (not just google mind you) to find bits of information about you. Is it important that you protect what you do for from from your employers or clients? Because the negative perception surrounding games like World of Warcraft are still prevalent in society, even today, after all of these years? Looking for a better job and want to make sure that you’re marketable? Well, avoid the WoW forums. In a few short months, everything you post, any Blizzard game you play, will be linked to your name. A simple google search might yield results  and cost you that promotion.

Let’s face it, not everyone who plays WoW works in the technology industry where all of your coworkers play video games, own an Xbox and remember playing on the 8-bit Nintendo system when they were 8 years old. Some of us have appearances to keep.

Without delving too much into the sociology of gender roles and the psychology of the negativity surrounding what it is to be female, the simple perceived truth is this: Women cannot play men’s games as well as their male counterparts. Nevermind that my boyfriend plays WoW because of me. Or that I progressed further than he did in Everquest before  he did. Or that he joined my raiding guild long after I quit the game. Oh no. The belief is that I am a terrible player, I will get my guild and party members killed, and it is all to blame on my lack of ability to play a game because I obviously lack the same motor skills that men possess at birth because I am, in fact, female. I am also, by sheer fact of being female, deserving of sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and threats of death and bodily harm if I differ in opinion.

I, personally, don’t find myself on the forums much, but that’s just because it’s nearly impossible for me to find anything I’d like to read there. I’m not looking for a guild, or a raid, or advertising my tradeskills. I don’t have technical problems that a GM has told me to go to the forums to ask my question on. I have posted. I will definitely hesitate to post from now on. We give Blizzard, all of us who play, our names and contact information for account purposes. We give this freely because it has always been kept private and used only for account purposes. Now you’re taking away my ability to keep my information private from the entire world. Even though it was explained that using Real ID in game was a choice. If you didn’t use it no one saw your real name. It was simple. Now you’re not only taking away that choice, but force feeding it to us.

At 1360 pages (as of when I last loaded it) and growing, the amount of outrage cannot go unnoticed. There has to be some sort of compromise. Some middle ground that can be better than the all-or-nothing mentality that Blizzard has recently adopted. While I won’t stop playing the game (at least not yet), this is a huge deterrent to continue. I won’t ask friends to come join me. I won’t try to lure people into the joys of WoW that I have been able to enjoy.

I’m ashamed to be a part of this giant step backwards. Enabling the stalkers and the violent to capitalize on the apparent lack of judgement on the higher ups over at Blizzard. This is a Pandora’s box I wouldn’t want to open. If all of the claims to cancelling accounts are true, the real numbers are likely higher. In college it was always explained that public arenas for voicing opinions are only a small fraction of the population. If this small fraction of the WoW population is outraged and upset, imagine how many behind the scenes are cancelling their accounts and simply not saying anything.

Edit: Mind you this isn’t about your gender (or mine for that matter).  This is about privacy and how a system such as this affects each individual person. What I needed to do was write it all, save as a draft, come back and edit it prior to publishing so that all of my ducks were in the correct row. Instead you get my over-impassioned, all-over-the-place, bouncing from the problems with cyber-stalking leading to real-life stalking and overall privacy concerns. The reality of the situation and what it all boils down to is that while many of us want to believe that women are treated equally to men, this is simply not the case. Women are more likely to be sexually assaulted than men. This is not my opinion, it is pure fact. Real ID opens the doors for all 11 million people within the userbase of World of Warcraft to be found with a simple google search. 11 million people is a helluva lot of people. That is a lot of potential rapes, sexual assaults, stalkings and death. It isn’t funny anymore Blizzard.

It’s ridiculous.

Edit 2: Someone made a challenge. The challenge was met. It’s pretty terrifying how easy it is.

WoW.com :: Rumor: Blizzard Employee’s Real Life Names Will Not Appear on the Real ID Forums

Wow.com has reported this afternoon a number of disturbing pieces of information that have come to light around the whole Real ID means real names on the official forums controversy.

While I don’t think that anyone can debate that Blizzard employees can’t have their real lives disturbed or intruded upon by in-game issues (the last thing a community moderator or GM needs is to be followed to their home or be contacted personally because they locked a thread or didn’t provide an answer sufficient to someone who takes the game entirely too seriously) the rumor that Blizzard employees will be exempt from the changes implies that Blizzard definitely understands the severity of what they’re doing, but simply haven’t decided to extend that concern to their customers as well as their employees. Here’s what WoW.com had to say about it:

So here’s what we know:

  • Bashiok / Drysc posted his real life name yesterday, and had his privacy violated by people posting maps to his house, his parents’ names, and (potentially incorrect) cell phone numbers.
  • We have seen multiple reports of WoW players who have called up Blizzard’s support line and spoken with representatives who’ve told them blues will no longer be using their real names in the new forums.
  • Josh, a Blizzard phone rep said that Blizzard employees “cannot risk having their personal lives compromised by in-game issues.”
  • Blizzard blue representative Rygarius locked, but did not delete nor deny, a thread on this.
  • WoW.com has emailed PR contacts within Blizzard for comment, and have not heard anything back.

As with the previous post, I’m of two minds of this – first, it’s unfortunate that it’s clear to Blizzard the gravity of this change. They know it, but they’re moving forward with their player-base anyway. It’s also likely that Blizzard employees will be exempt from other Real ID concerns, like the friends-of-friends feature. On the other hand, I completely empathize with Blizzard employees, who are more likely to be targeted because of who they are and who they work for.

So while I’m not saying this should go forward and Blizzard employees should be left out and the rest of us forced to comply, I am saying that Blizzard should (and they likely will if the uproar continues) come up with a middle ground where people’s privacy can be protected to at least some degree, instead of taking an all or nothing approach.

We’ll wait and see what WoW.com turns up in the way of confirm/deny of the rumor, but in the meantime, the controversy is still simmering (especially in this massive thread), and more and more stories like this one are appearing, where people are able to use such limited information like a player’s real name, whatever associated information there is about them, and the powers of Google to dig up a lot of personal detail about them.

UPDATE: According to Blizzard, they’re sticking to their guns and their employees’ real names WILL be used on the forums. From the original WoW.com post:

According to Nethaera, they’re going to stick with their original plan and have blue posters use their real names. As to why other parts of Blizzard are saying something different (WoW.com has verified what other parts of Blizzard has said), it appears they’re having some internal communication issues.

Blizzard Announces Changes to Forums: Real Names to be Displayed

Blizzard announced some sweeping changes in conjunction with its Real ID system today, most notably that they’re changing the official forums for World of Warcraft and all of their other games so that a player’s real name is displayed next to their forum comments when they post to the general forums, class forums, customer and technical support forums, and elsewhere. That’s right – when you post to the forums, your first and last name will appear.

This has already caused some more than significant uproar in the World of Warcraft community, but before we dive into that, here’s the announcement, thanks to Wow.com:

The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID — that is, their real-life first and last name — with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. Certain classic forums, including the classic Battle.net forums, will remain unchanged.

The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players — however, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild. Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before. With this change, you’ll see blue posters (i.e. Blizzard employees) posting by their real first and last names on our forums as well.

Now, if you’ll remember the open letter and passionate piece written by our new author (say hello to her!) Lee Olesky called Real ID and Real Concerns, you’ll see that some of the things she mentioned not only apply here too, but are very relevant.

I’m of two minds of the changes: first of all, and as much as I’ve seen some folks decrying it, this is not a legal matter and this absolutely will decrease the forum trolling that’s rampant on the official forums and has for several years now made people unwilling to use them for anything. The fact that so many forum users would hide behind their level 1 alts to bolster their own points or troll others without having to reveal their level 80 mains is proof that they needed that anonymity to say the things they wanted to say. When they’re stripped of it, as they will be, they won’t troll. That’s just fact.

I know, there are Facebook trolls who use their real names too – I’m not saying it’s the end of trolling on the official forums, but we have to remember that most rational people avoided the forums entirely because it was a cesspool of trolling and nonsense largely, and entire cottage blogs and tools that tracked blue posts only without the fluff of all of the other posts on the forums grew out of the fact that the official forums were all but unusable otherwise.

Forcing a player to have their real name associated with the things they say will definitely force them to watch what they say, or not say anything at all.

At the same time, this does have a chilling effect on people who have legimitate privacy concerns. I’m not talking about privacy concerns of the legal nature – playing World of Warcraft, you are subject to their terms of service. Your full name is not considered “private” information, and if someone requires you use your real name in order to use the service, you have to provide it. Your options in this case, legally, are to either provide your real name, give the service a compelling reason not to (that they will accept or decline,) or not use the service. I know that we’re really hung up on privacy in our Web-connected society (which we should be – there are many very real privacy threats out there) but there’s little legal basis for an opt-in service like World of Warcraft.

This is where the chilling effect comes in. Because Blizzard is well within their rights to do this (even if we don’t all think it’s a good idea – and trust me, I don’t think it’s a good idea…I would have gone for first name last initial or something a little more personal but a little more private as well) I really empathize with people who have stalkers, bullies, or other people on the Web who follow them everywhere they go, keep track of everything they write or say, or people who need anonymity to protect themselves somehow.

People with stalkers, or players with obsessive bosses who’ll search the WoW forums for any evidence that the person posted during work hours, or people who play the game to escape reality, roleplay, or otherwise not be themselves for a moment, will all find this change chilling enough that they’ll likely never use the official forums again. They’ll all be an unfortunate casualty of what are likely good intentions but have gone overboard.

The other likely side effect is that it will drive valid and valuable conversation about the game away from the official forums and to unofficial forums on fansites, like MMO Champion. That can be a boon for those sites, but it’s unfortunate for Blizzard, as they’ll lose some of the capability to shape their message and interact with people who are sharing their opinions and thoughts first-hand.

Like I said, I’m of two minds obviously – I more than empathize with the people who need their anonymity to play the game the way they want to play or keep themselves safe and private, but I also acknowledge that something like this can go a long way to making the official forums much more usable and worth visiting. Regardless of either point, I doubt that Blizzard will retract this move unless the community is really really roiled against them – and I mean people who already use the forums, not just the offended masses who play but don’t use the forums for anything.

What do you think? Do you think the decrease in trolling (if any) is enough reason for Blizz to do this, and if people don’t like it they should just not use the forums? Alternatively, is this the worst idea in the history of World of Warcraft and will likely drive people away from the game entirely? Sound off in the comments!

Blizzard Lifts Cataclysm NDA, Closed Beta Begins

The rush of information is on, and the hunt for beta keys begins!

Last night, Blizzard made two huge announcements: first, that the NDA over Cataclysm and the Friends-and-Family Alpha have been lifted, and people who have been participating up to this point are free to discuss their experiences and the development of the game up to this point. Second, Blizzard announced that the closed beta for Cataclysm has officially begun, and that Battle.net account-holders who have signed up for the beta will begin getting their invites as the beta pool is defined and slowly expanded over time.

Here’s the official word, from this Blizzard press release:

BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT BEGINS CLOSED BETA TEST
FOR WORLD OF WARCRAFT®: CATACLYSM™

IRVINE, Calif. – June 30, 2010 – Blizzard Entertainment announced today that the closed beta test for Cataclysm™, its highly anticipated new expansion for World of Warcraft®, has begun. The company has started issuing invitations to participate in the testing process to a wide range of players from around the world who signed up via their Battle.net® accounts. While enjoying an early look at the game, beta testers will provide valuable feedback to help Blizzard Entertainment find bugs, address balance issues, and polish the new content.

“Our focus with Cataclysm has been to build on the knowledge we’ve gained through the previous expansions to deliver the best, most compelling World of Warcraft content for our players to date,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Gathering focused feedback during the beta test will go a long way in helping us reach that goal when we launch Cataclysm later this year.”

Cataclysm is the third expansion for World of Warcraft, the most popular subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game in the world. The first two expansions, The Burning Crusade® and Wrath of the Lich King®, each shattered PC game sales records upon their release. In Cataclysm, the face of Azeroth will be forever altered by the return of the corrupted Dragon Aspect Deathwing. Players will explore once-familiar areas of the world that have now been reshaped by the devastation and filled with new adventures. In an effort to survive the planet-shattering cataclysm, two new playable races — worgen and goblins — will join the struggle between the Alliance and the Horde. As players journey to the new level cap of 85, they’ll discover newly revealed locations, acquire new levels of power, and come face to face with Deathwing in a battle to determine the fate of the world.

For more information on World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, please visit the official website at http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/cataclysm. To set up a Battle.net account and sign up for a chance to participate in the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm beta test, please visit the official Battle.net website at http://www.battle.net.

About Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft® and the Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo® series, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com), a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard Entertainment’s track record includes eleven #1-selling games and multiple Game of the Year awards. The company’s online-gaming service, Battle.net®, is one of the largest in the world, with millions of active players.

It’s on now, kiddies! With the drop of the NDA, we’re sure to see a rush of information about the items in the game and the features that have already been rolled in, and with the opening of the beta to select users, we’ll start seeing invite horsetrading begin and more people posting their opinions, sights, sounds, and thoughts about the game, the new zones, and the dungeons. Just as a teaser, WoWhead has already unveiled their Cataclysm database of items, quests, NPCs, and zones! Granted, it’s by no means complete, since beta invites just started flowing, but expect it to grow soon!

Stay tuned! We’ll try to get our hands on beta invites so we can bring you first-hand screenshots and analysis from the beta!

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