Mechwarrior Online Coming Summer 2012

Posted by Daeity On Monday, October 31, 2011

Awesome news that just came out of Piranha Games. MWO (F2P) will be launching Summer 2012.

You can register your Pilot Name right now. Get your very rare name before anyone else does. I got a really good one. :)

The FAQ is located here. Basically, it's a PC exclusive Free to Play MMO. MWO is running an "offset timeline" to BattleTech and in 3049. No melee combat, no vehicles yet, Mech team-based. The Atlas, Hunchbask and Jenner Mech designs have been confirmed, and the Clans will be making an appearance.

* UPDATE:

PC Gamer has an "exclusive" article on MWO.

Oh right! DC Universe Online is going F2P tomorrow too. I'll probably play it for 1 or 2 weeks before getting bored, but it should be interesting.

Taking Credit

Posted by Daeity On Sunday, October 30, 2011

Here's another interesting use for Google Alerts: finding out when someone steals credit. :)

(Mynsc, this is something to be prepared for on your own site. Don't be surprised if someone rips off information from your site, even blatant copy and pastes.)

On this blog, it's something that happens all the time. Taking credit for research or posts from here, copying and pasting "thoughts" and "opinions" as their own, and I've even seen gold guides ripped off from here, put into book form, and then sold as part of a gold making package.

Here's the latest from a blog entry on SC2SEA.COM.

It's not exactly that hard to link directly to the source either. Here you go.

This is what the original quote looked like:

What mynsc said at the top is the real deal, but thanks to everyone for letting me know to never joke around before we go live on the DTV feed....

Geoff and I were just killing time and joking around. etc. etc. etc.
And here's what Dox changed it to:
Kat Hunter herself stepped forward with the following public statement as well:

Originally Posted by Kat Hunter

Thanks to everyone for letting me know to never joke around before we go live on the DTV feed....

Geoff and I were just killing time and joking around. etc. etc. etc.
No links to the site, no citation, and clearly edited to not reveal it's source. Stay classy, Dox.

Here's the whole thing in full if you're interested:

By the way, Kat Hunter never did return to check on her comment or to see if anyone responded. It was sort of a drop in never to return PR paste. Pretty much exactly as I expected. :)

* UPDATE OCT 31, 2011:

Apparently, Dox took credit for yet ANOTHER post from this blog too.

Here's all he wrote:
Note that this is not officially confirmed by Blizzard yet, but the source is credible and I wouldn't create a thread about it if I didn't think it was true.

Diablo 3 will be released on January 17th, 2012.

He makes it sound like it's his own internal sources that told him this. :)

The "Ultimate" Diablo 3 Gold Guide

Posted by Daeity On Friday, October 28, 2011

My guide is very simple and it's just one page:

1. If you want to make money creating Diablo 3 gold guides, don't bother.
I was thinking the other day about the indeterministic nature of Diablo 3, and came to the realization that trying to make a Diablo 3 Gold Guide is going to be very difficult and practically pointless. All of the gold guides will be very simple, they'll all look the same, and they'll all be very short.

Here's Why

In World of Warcraft, there's just so much to do and so much variation (even when the game first came out). There's mining, gathering, crafting, services, dailies, special quests, and a thousand more forms of farming. There are mods to improve gold and item gathering. Due to the massive variety of quests, some can be bugged to give extra XP or gold. There are mobs that drop varying quantities of gold, materials, or different XP gains. Each mob has a specific loot table so that you can farm groups of mobs over and over to get a certain item or crafting material. Bosses also have specific loot tables, so that you can keep farming the same boss or instance to get it.

But Diablo 3 is nothing like that. The massive variety is gone, specialized mob drops are gone, loot tables are gone, gathering is gone, special quests are gone, etc.

If you compare the two gaming experiences, you can look at it this way:
  • players are only able to go from one zone to the next. They are all in order like a game on rails. You can only move forwards or move back into one zone at a time.
  • all of the mobs in the zone drop the exact same amount of XP and gold.
  • basically, there are thousands of the "same monster" in each zone, and you can only get a different monster by moving into the next zone. In zone 2, all of the mobs are level 7-9, they all drop level 7-9 items. In zone 3, all of the mobs are level 10-12, they all drop level 10-12 items. And so on..
  • there are no loot tables.
  • there are no mods to help you, improve gathering, or make the AH easier to use.
  • when you kill the boss at the end of the zone, they all have the same chances of dropping the exact same items.
  • there's no such thing as "farming" anymore. It's more simple: just kill everything in the zone because they all drop the same stuff.
  • all of the mobs drop the same crafting items too, so you can't farm specific mobs for items or mats.
  • because you have your own private world now, there's no competition or rarity of mobs to drive up prices on the Auction House. Meaning, they're of less value to you and not worthwhile to "farm".
  • "farming" bosses just drops more rares, but you can kill larger quantities of weaker monsters to get the same drops.
Basically, "farming" is gone. It's non existent in Diablo 3. If you want to "farm" items, it's now "farming" on the Auction House. That's where you know the specific items will be.

So, what does this leave for Diablo 3 Gold Guides?

There might be some guides on which classes are the most overpowered and in combination with certain skills. But, that's just a class guide and not a gold guide. It really just helps you kill mobs faster. (Classes will also be balanced regularly by Blizzard, so things will change. I would recommend becoming an altoholic so stay on top.)

There's no farming anymore, everything is just random selling on the Auction House.

There could be "gold guides" about what the best gear, items, or equipment for your character is. But, what's the point if the Auction House already does this for you? (e.g. the gear/skill matching system.)

The only useful guide would be a list of item rarity. All mobs have the same drop chances, but some items have more rare drop chances than others. That's where true value is determined.

So, there might be guides on how players can scan the Auction House more efficiently and what items and recipes to search for. If the items are being sold for really cheap, and the seller doesn't know the true value, they can be resold. Even better, recipes can be bought (if the seller doesn't know it's true value), and then multiple items crafted and resold from the single recipe.

But, that's all very common sense stuff. A guide isn't needed to tell people that.

And according to Robert Bridenbecker, they don't expect market manipulation to be possible. That means, no cornering or markets, no rare selling strategies, everyone just has the same chance of getting the same drops and selling the same stuff as everyone else. Everyone now has an equal chance of making the same money... whether they're skilled farmers or AH strategists.

Supply >>> Demand

His comments really concerned me actually, they're anticipating that supply will always be significantly greater than demand. WOW is much different. Plus, that's not very good for an economy.

I hope this isn't true though. From the sounds of things, when the game first launches there will be a lot of crazy selling and buying too, because no one will realize how valuable items truly are.. they'll just go by their short term benefits. Once things settle in though, I think Diablo 3 will have a massive penny market. Everyone will be selling their drops for pennies, just slightly above the listing fee and other cuts, and the both Auction Houses will be flooded with items.

All items will be selling for 10 or 20 cents. And people will buy them because they're so cheap. "Oh wow, only $0.20 for this armor upgrade? Buy! Oh.. another leg piece, and only for $0.10! Buy!"

Within the massive penny market, avid sellers might make $0.20-$2.00 per day selling hundreds of items (after hours and hours of work). But Blizzard will be profiting 10-20% of all earnings from the millions if not billions of player transactions per day. :)

Besides the massive penny market, there will also be those very rare and sudden drops that any player has a chance of winning. That's what keeps players going.. that chance to "suddenly win" a $10-50 item. People will be addicted to this, and that's where the true gambling nature of the game comes in.

The Best Diablo Gold Guides?

Unfortunately, the best gold guides will be about cheating and exploits.

Within the legitimate Diablo 3 game, you'll want to read guides on how to make the most efficient killing machine. Techniques, class, and skills to build the best AOE class you can.. and which zones have the most number of mobs in the smallest amount of space.

Finding mobs that give birth to smaller mobs (and killing those) is probably the most efficient (like the "Mothers" in the first zone). And you'll want to keep resetting the zone over and over. The game is about killing quantity, and not quality or specific farming. It might even be worth killing more mobs instead of bosses since time is a factor. Diablo 3 is all about KPM (Kills Per Minute.)

Other tips? Don't buy anything. Ever.

Selling gold and characters will provide the most consistent revenue. If you're a gambler, focus on drops.

Watch patch notes (unsure if there will be a D3 PTR) so that you can know if certain item drop chances will change, if items will have their modifiers changed, or if drops will be removed (if existing items remain, this will increase their rarity and possibly value.)

When the time comes, I'll probably create a few of my own gold guides.. but I think they'll mostly focus on the Auction House, areas with the most condensed monster groups, and probably player tricks or exploits.

Kat paid us a visit..

Posted by Daeity On Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kat Hunter dropped by and left a comment about the Warcraft 4 affair in the comments section here.

I can confirm it was indeed her (if the Blogspot account didn't give it away) as she also sent it from a Blizzard work PC.

She came here from the Reddit post if you were interested. I wonder if Mike Morhaime reads Reddit often too?

Still, it's nice that someone from Blizzard finally left a comment after all of their visits. I think it's the first time they ever commented.. I don't have access to the older blog information before August though.

Weak-ly Updates

Posted by Daeity On

  • "The Players Wanted It". I love it when Blizzard says this. Apparently, the reason for the new Pet Battles system is because players wanted it. Blizzard also said the same thing about the cash money auction house: players wanted it. Online only requirement and no mods for Diablo 3? Player want this because that's how it was in Diablo 2. Paid faction changes? Players wanted it. Create both factions on a PVP server? Players. Real ID? Players. Removal of Real ID? Players again. Character naming restrictions? Players. More restrictions? Removal of restrictions? Pandas? You get the idea. It's all completely true though.. it's like those commercials where they say, "Doctors agree that this is the best medical product." All they need are two doctors, who can have a doctorate in basket weaving, to promote the product. Players really did want these changes.. even if it was just 2 Blizzard employees who asked for it. Whenever they say "players want this", it's really "the business wants this." Why are the things that players REALLY want never done? Vanilla servers come to mind, and it's been a major discussion since TBC when there was no technical barrier.

  • Bethesda has been denied their appeal in attempting to stop Interplay's development of the Fallout MMO. I'm actually hoping Interplay wins this battle, but not in the way or for the reasons you might be thinking. They have both been pretty sneaky on both sides, but in my opinion, Bethesda has been far more cruel during this war. I think that the Fallout MMO development progress has actually been very slow by Interplay on purpose, and they're really just holding the IP hostage. Bethesda's lawyers wrote that "Bethesda would be unable to recover in the event that Interplay enters bankruptcy." If this is true, then they should just purchase the entire Fallout IP directly from Interplay. (Interplay, of course, will be asking for a tremendous amount of "screw you" payback.) After all, Bethesda is not permitted to create any new Fallout game after their next standalone installment; the IP will automatically revert back to Interplay as per their original contract. I suspect that Bethesda is even more desperate now that RAGE (the possible Fallout replacement developed by id Software) wasn't received too well. What they should do is just make Fallout 5 a game with heavy next gen expansion characteristics, so that the universe can keep being expanded with new graphics engines and content in each expansion pack (or DLC). They just need to outlast Interplay. And, they should also buy the Wasteland IP from Inxile (for a much reduced price) and use that as their next gaming franchise line.

  • Part 3 of that PC Gamer article came out. There was no more information on Titan, and no clarification of the first article which implied a possible Titan direction. Disappointing.

Site Update

Posted by Daeity On

Yay! Blogspot Page comments are now visible again. (There are "Posts" like this one, and then there are special "Pages" like what you see along the top-right corner of the Blogspot menu page.)

From the looks of things it went down around the first week of October, and came back up within the past couple days. (Only reason I noticed was because someone posted a question on the FAQ page.) :)

You know, going over past comments (from well before Blizzcon 2011 mind you) was a very reassuring experience. It's too bad that Boubouille guy never actually researched any of that apparently. He was SO upset and angry about the leak, but unfortunately all of his arguments were predicated on assumptions and guesses. And, he only focused on ONE facet but conveniently left out the other imgur links, YouTube comments, paste sites, Blogspot comments, and all of the people who saw it before Blizzcon. He strikes me as someone who "does his research", so it was very disappointing that he was manipulating his people that way (he didn't tell them the full truth). I suppose followers will blindly follow their leader no matter what they say though.

Something still really bothers me though. Why was he so obsessed with this blog in the first place? He jumped in right away and acted very angry about the whole thing.. but there was no need for it. Real leaks and fake leaks happen all of the time, but why did he pick this leak specifically? There was something really weird about everything he was saying and it just doesn't add up. Why does the owner of one of the largest WOW blogs so interested in what comes out of this site? He's made it clear that he has been following the site for a long time too. What's all that about? I and many others know it was real, so why is he so insistent on trying to disprove it? I still feel like there's something else going on.

Rockstar Websites

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All of the Rockstar Studio websites (e.g. Leeds, San Diego, Toronto, etc) are now being redirected back to the main Rockstargames.com website.

Apparently, that test they did on August 25th was indeed a preparation for this big day (e.g. the GTA V announcement.)

Diablo 3 RMAH Sales and Currency

Posted by Daeity On

I was very disappointed about the Diablo 3 Panels and Q&A since they didn't reveal any new information. They just went over the same stuff that has been announced previously. But, apparently there was a press gathering with Robert Bridenbecker after Blizzcon and there's some interesting new information.

Here's the video, but the audio is a little poor:



A summary of the most interesting information from that meeting:

  • Blizzard's plan for the RMAH is that you have a credit card on your account. If your listing doesn't sell, your credit card is charged for the listing fee.
  • The other option they are debating is arrears and they're thinking that for every failed Listing Fee, you start building up a negative balance which would need to get paid out after a certain time.
  • They want to keep the flat rates as small as possible. He kept reiterating small tiny fees. Guess we'll see when the time comes. Based on Blizzard comments over the past few months and this recent reiteration, I'm thinking $0.05 or less, but if it's more than $0.25 that's way too much. The Blizzard team is apparently guessing that most items will sell for "sub $10". So a small 5 cent fixed fee should match this. He said they won't start messing around with the listing fees either to manipulate the market.
  • It sounds like the plan is to have players work for 3-5 months to maybe earn up to $50, and then they use that money to buy new games, DLC, paid services, or subscriptions. It will be quite a shock if people actually make a lot of money from it, and the anticipation is that most player profits will go back into Blizzard.
  • Here's something interesting. When talking about market manipulation and someone cornering the market (e.g. they keep buying out the same item and jacking up the price by 10-20%), he said that it won't be possible in Diablo 3 like it was in WOW. (This goes back to the deterministic nature of WOW versus indeterministic nature of Diablo 3.) Basically, he said that due to the indeterministic nature of Diablo 3, supply will always be greater than demand. Eeek! This also confirms what I have been talking about for some time.. it's going to drive down prices, but increase Listing Fees substantially (and more failed Listing Fees) meaning more revenue for Blizzard.
  • He talked about security measures; they're working on a SMS service where automated messages can be sent directly to your mobile in the case of abnormal security behavior on your account. If you're being hacked, you're notified right away.. rather than finding out when you attempt to login later.
And finally, here are the most interesting parts:
  • "When you buy Diablo 3, you're buying Diablo 3." You can play it anywhere in the world, it's not region locked. Only the RMAH is region based.
  • It's "just Diablo 3 now", no EN/EU/GB/etc versions. You choose the server, pick the language, and you can play anywhere in the world. No barriers, no RMAH restrictions, no currency restrictions, no region locking, etc. (Except that there is a different RMAH in each region and you are locked into your own currency, so the conversions are made for you when you cash out.)
  • I guess this means Australian players can buy D3 from the US Website for $50 and start playing right away?
  • Blizzard is the middleman for all RMAH transactions, you can utilize any currency you want, and if players want to they can even engage in speculative markets and currency trading. Robert said it would be perfectly acceptable.
  • I guess this means that gold farmers will be migrating from server to server looking for the best market and currency conversion. (Latency permitting of course.) :)
This all sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun. Can't wait!

* UPDATE:
  • Some people are saying that (from this video), you will have a different B.Net credit account in each region, and any money you earn can only be used in that region's B.Net store. Which is very strange that you can't use it for another B.Net store, considering there is only one "Battle.net". You can cash out to your main PayPal account though, and that's when the conversion takes place. But, I think they picked that up from the "Brazilian dollars" conversation that started at the 13 minute mark. He's just talking about conversion though, it's still Battle.net credit (but in "Brazilian dollars") and I think he's still saying it can be used for transactions everywhere else. For example, you make a ton of money in the European RMAH, but you can use that money (after conversion) to buy stuff off the US Battle.net Store.
  • The audio is very crappy, and there are some parts that I don't understand. If you jump to the 11:03 mark, he says everyone can participate in the Gold Auction House anywhere in the world, but the RMAH is specific to the region. He must mean that certain regions won't have the RMAH (like what has already been announced).. although it first sounded like he's saying the Gold Auction House is "universal", but there are separate RMAH's on each server.
  • UPDATE: Basically the way it works is when you first sign up to the game, you're "locked" into a specific region's RMAH. You can still play the game in any region, and you can use the Gold Auction House of any region. But, you're "locked" into a single RMAH (the one you first selected, which will typically be your own region that you're physically located.) You can "unlock" your RMAH region, though, by providing proof of relocation (like a scanned photo ID).

What You Didn't Know About Blizzcon

Posted by Daeity On Tuesday, October 25, 2011

.. is going to blow your mind. Does this clickbait title work?

So, you want to hear something really messed up? I'm willing to bet that no one knows this (except Blizzard).

During the Blizzcon 2010 opening ceremonies, Michael Morhaime said that there were "more than 100,000 virtual attendees" watching across over 100 countries live via DIRECTV. (This was also when Blizzard DOTA was first announced, and he said it would be free to "all Battle.net players in the coming months.")

Next, during the Q3 2010 Earnings Call following Blizzcon 2010, Michael Morhaime said "More than 25,000 people attended the show with another 95,000 paid viewers following along via DIRECTV or the live Internet stream." (27,000 attendees were later reported.)

But wait.. don't you remember all of those RAYV problems? Oh right.. Blizzard also partnered with RAYV to provide live streaming through the Blizzard site.

In 2009 and 2010, Blizzcon was available live via Blizzard (RAYV) and DIRECTV as a Pay Per View event.

To clarify, there were TWO streams available for purchase: DIRECTV and BLIZZARD DIRECT

During the opening ceremonies, all of the official announcements, and shareholders meetings, Michael Morhaime only revealed the DIRECTV numbers. He was very careful about his wording, and he did not share their internal "Blizzard Direct" figures. How interesting.

However, RAYV sure did share this information in one of their official case studies.

Blizzcon 2010 served over 550,000 unique viewers watching over 100,000,000 minutes of online streaming in a single weekend, The [sic] premium package subscription cost $40 and included HD streaming of the entire event plus a special “pet code” [sic]
This was no typo. 550,000 paid viewers are mentioned multiple times in various RAYV releases. (Update: Even though they "served" customers and mention the premium package in the same statement, it's possible that there could be a percentage of free stream viewers in that 550k figure.)

So, there were 95,000 to 100,000 paid DIRECTV customers and over 550,000 paid BLIZZARD customers. HOLY CRAP.

Blizzard only revealed the 95,000 number though. It was a preplanned, calculated, and strategically worded delivery of speech. :)

It makes so much sense too.. with more than 25,000 (to 27,000) attendees and tickets selling out in minutes, why would virtual attendees only be 3x that number? 650,000+ viewers makes much more sense, but Blizzard does NOT want you to know this information.

It's exactly like what Michael Morhaime said, "margins are higher when we sell direct." SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER when sold direct, in fact. (I mentioned that citation yesterday too.)

In their partnership with DIRECTV, they are probably taking a larger cut away from Blizzard. But, by using RAYV technology (back in 2009 and 2010) using their own website and resources, they made a TON more revenue from virtual ticket sales.

But 2011 is even more interesting.

During the Blizzcon 2011 Opening Ceremonies, Michael Morhaime gave a "shout out" specifically to the DIRECTV members only. He said there were "more than 60,000 from 130 countries who bought a virtual ticket." So sneaky. :)

He didn't mention the number of virtual attendees who watched through the direct Blizzard live feed though. And last year, it was over 5 times the number of DIRECTV customers.

SO, IS YOUR MIND BLOWN NOW? (Hopefully not just by the number of actual viewers, but also the other revelation.)

If there were 100,000 DIRECTV customers last year, but only 60,000 this year, it's very likely that even more customers are using the Blizzard live stream this year. (By the way, there were "over 26,000" attendees announced at Blizzcon 2011 vs "over 25,000" at Blizzcon 2010.)

How much do you want to bet that the Blizzard live stream numbers will NOT be shared at this upcoming shareholders meeting? They'll only announce the outsourced DIRECTV figures, and very carefully word it. :)

Blizzard is okay with sharing numbers on behalf of partners or citing research publications (who don't have access to their internal digital numbers), but they're highly secretive when it comes to internal figures and revenues.

* UPDATE (10/26/2011)

RAYV has just updated their blog with statistics from the Blizzcon 2011 live stream.
For the third year in a row, RayV partnered with Blizzard and Direct TV to broadcast Blizzcon to virtual ticket holders. The virtual ticket increases in popularity every year. Virtual ticket holders can tune in on their computers and watch all performances, panels, and matches live. The virtual ticket also guarantees VOD access for up to two weeks after the event is over.

For the first time, RayV also streamed regional Blizzard Tournaments. RayV streamed the GomTV tournament, based in Korea, and the SiTV tournament, based in China. Both streams added to the global reach of the Blizzard and RayV community.

The Blizzcon stream attracted countless online viewers. Over the weekend, RayV delivered over 2.26 Million hours of streamed content. There were over 740,000 viewers worldwide and at some points there were approximately 200,000 concurrent viewers.
So, Michael Morhaime announced that there were "more than 60,000" DIRECTV users who purchased the 2011 virtual ticket. But, there were another 740,000 viewers who used the Blizzard live stream instead of DIRECTV (this figure might also include those who watched the Opening Ceremony and SC2/WOW matches).

Those viewer counts are crazy, no wonder Blizzard doesn't like to share them. The "revealed" DIRECTV paid customers is just a fraction of the "unrevealed" paid customers who go through Blizzard directly. A good example of why digital sales are never revealed either.. if they're not there yet, retail sales will eventually just be a fraction of digital sales.

* -------------------

It's all about wording too, like what this blog has discussed so many.. many times. Remember when they said Blizzcon was a financial loss for the company.. but it was spoken in past tense? Or when Tom Chilton claimed that Mists of Pandaria was just a crazy rumor and speculation?

If you guys were interested in tallying up sales, Blizzcon tickets cost $175 (they were $100 for several years, then $125 in 2009, and then $150 in 2010). Virtual tickets cost $40 this year and last. (In 2010, they made approximately $30 million in revenue with $3-4 million in expenses.)

Because they're delivering streaming services themselves this year, their profit is probably even higher.

Activision Blizzard Objectives

All of these deceptive choice of words and "special features" are showing very clear objectives for the company and just how important it is to keep it secret. When Michael Morhaime said that he's a crazy CEO who gets to make crazy decisions, and "what if we just made Diablo 3 available for free to World of Warcraft subscribers".. that wasn't just a crazy "idea". It was with purpose and it was all part of a strategic plan for the company.

Their objective is to push digital sales of games, expansion packs and DLC as much as possible. Digital sales (and providing sales and services themselves) is more important to them than even Paid Services. DIGITAL SALES IS HUGE FOR THEM. And they're realizing it even more every day since a few years ago.

And, I don't think Blizzard wants their competitors to know just how much money they're making from digital sales. Profit margins are massive if you can cut out the middlemen. They're doing it with games, services, music, and even video streams now.

If other competitors aren't already doing this, they will be hurting badly and simply cannot compete with Activision Blizzard. There are just so many businesses out there that haven't realized the importance of digital delivery and just providing these services in house. They should be outsourcing labor, but OWNING the digital delivery systems and finding clever ways to get their customers to buy from their digital stores. This is how Activision Blizzard is destroying the competition.. if competitors can't keep up, they'll be just like Blockbuster still trying to rent out VHS tapes.

Future Plans

With their heavy emphasis on digital delivery, you can bet that both Activision and Blizzard will be finding new ways (and special promotions like "$10 off if you buy online" or "get it free by buying this") to push digital sales. One method is degrading the quality of retail boxes and promoting environmentalism or "green incentives" to move into digital.

Having an easy delivery system and purchase platform is key. The RMAH "B.NET BUCKS" system is a brilliant method to push even more digital sales.

And you can bet that Titan will be HUGE into the digital delivery system. Special coupons or incentives to buy Titan online, purchase DLC digitally, purchase expansion packs online, seamless client upgrade systems, etc.

To continue pushing the digital delivery method (to eventually replace most of their retail sales), Titan will also be incorporating a heavy payment system internal to Battle.net (e.g. more "B.NET BUCKS") If users can make money using Titan, they'll use their Battle.net credits to purchase more games or Titan expansion packs. Titan expansion packs will probably be smaller and delivered more quickly too, since they weren't able to do it in time for WOW but they can still do it for Titan. And with their digital sales objective, it makes much more sense.

More people (and in particular video game competition) need to be aware of where real game sales profit lies.

GTA V Announced

Posted by Daeity On

Right on the front page.

Teaser trailer will be posted there on November 2, 2011.

Apparently, all those resume searches and voice acting job finds really did indicate GTA 5 even though everyone (including Rockstar) was saying otherwise. :)

Good timing for the "Gaming Leaks; a How To" posts too. Now you know how people found out about GTA 5 earlier this year.

Wary of the WOW Annual Pass

Posted by Daeity On Monday, October 24, 2011

The WOW Annual Pass was quite an interesting new announcement at Blizzcon.. it's actually quite brilliant and I have to commend the marketing team.

Here is more information on the Annual Pass which I will be referencing.

From what I understand, this was a last minute change. It was probably an idea developed (or just implemented from an earlier idea) within the past 3 months or so after they decided not to make the surprise Christmas announcement.

It's being marketed just like a mobile contract. If you sign up with us, you get this fancy new phone for free.. and you only have to pay month to month! Cancel anytime you want! (Many view this contract scheme as a scam, but it's pleasantly ignored when it comes to a video game.)

Just like mobile contracts, users on jumping on board without considering the consequences. And, it's a common human trait not to fully understand long term consequences (which is being exploited by clever marketers) after all.

Here are some things to consider:

  • You CANNOT cancel the monthly payments, so you better make sure you don't run out of funds and save up in advance (in case of monetary emergencies.)
  • In order to be eligible, you need to pay for a recurring subscription already. Meaning that it will cost you an additional month (13 months) to get the offer: "Prior to accepting the offer you must have a recurring World of Warcraft subscription active on the associated account."
  • You are stuck with the 12+1 month subscription, and it's deducted on a month to month basis.
  • You are buying the standard digital copy only. You do not get a retail box.
  • If you fail to make a payment: you lose the items, your account is disabled, you are charged the full amount for Diablo 3, and Blizzard is within their right to sue you: "If your World of Warcraft subscription lapses during the Twelve Month Commitment, or if you fail to make any required payments or timely payments, Blizzard reserves the right to terminate your participation in this offer in addition to any and all other remedies that may be available to Blizzard at law."
  • Because of the guaranteed beta access, other WOW players are penalized access for this. It further encourages them to participate in the offer.
  • You're locked into playing WOW even when D3 comes out next year. It's a limited time offer too, so you need to act fast!
  • You are stuck with an entire year's subscription during a time when new games will be coming out: Skyrim, Guild Wars 2, Tera Online, SWTOR, Torchlight 2, Path of Exile, The Secret World, etc.
  • When you're stuck with a subscription, you feel obligated to play the game to avoid a wasted expenditure.
  • It's a great way to keep Blizzard players away from new MMOs and more importantly, their competitors.
  • It gets Diablo 3 players to play WOW, and gets WOW users playing Diablo 3.
  • Having so many players locked into a 1 year contract increases their subscriber counts (vanity figures for impressing shareholders) even if the accounts aren't being played. It's "Subscriber" counts, not actual players.
  • Michael Morhaime stated that "their margins are higher when we sell direct." It's in Blizzards best interest to get you to use their digital downloads.. they are saving a ton of money by you not buying retail (they also lose a major cut from the retail sale too.)
  • This is also why the new D3 RMAH and PayPal relationship is so important.. by building up B.NET bucks, their profit margins are going to skyrocket compared to retail loss. This is the future of all of their games. Keep your money within Blizzard, buy digital. Degrading the quality of retail boxes is a great way to encourage digital purchases too. (Remember the quality of materials that retail boxes used to carry?)
A very clever move, just like the Pokemon style combat pets.

(Blizzard will be selling even more pets in the Blizzard Pet Store now, with special pets having new abilities. Since it's not "game impacting" and only for "vanity pets", then it's perfectly acceptable to start selling weapons and armor.. but just on pets. (I don't literally mean real weapons and armor.. I'm talking special skills and pet stats.) It's also opening up WOW to a younger crowd, whereas Diablo 3 is targetting a more older/serious crowd. They'll have a couple games now to hold over the various demographic groups until Titan comes out for a more larger demographic.)

I wouldn't recommend the WOW Annual Pass for anyone.. unless either you're rich or you live in Australia. $100 for Diablo 3 is a pain in the ass, I'm so sorry for you guys. This deal is much more beneficial to you guys than everywhere else.

For everyone else though, please consider the repercussions.

The big problem I have is that you're FORCED to start paying for the WOW Subscription right away, during the time when Diablo 3 and other MMOs come out. It would be much more fair to players if you could buy the WOW Annual Pass now, but start using it at any time you want. But, their plan is to get users paying monthly fees for a year, knowing fully well that they'll never actually be playing WOW. Brilliant marketing strategy.

Gaming Leaks; A How To - Part 2

Posted by Daeity On

4. http://www.changedetection.com/ (Many alternatives available.)

Another great site for monitoring website updates. It highlights what specific entries have been added or removed, and it's great for monitoring small website adjustments or and seeing what text specifically changed. Unfortunately, it only monitors the site once per day and at a certain time, so you won't know about the many other possible changes have happen throughout the day (like if the website is undergoing maintenance or text corrections so you may miss some important tidbits.)

It is very useful though for getting advanced Press Releases before they are automatically emailed out, finding out recruiting changes (if positions are filled) or new recruiting jobs available, website changes like when Rockstar redirected all of their domains (which in turn indicated a major shakeup within the company), monitoring old comments or forum posts for changes, monitoring specific accounts (old forum accounts) for changes, watching Gaming Publisher sites for new changes (or "hidden upgrades"), etc.

5. Special Announcements

Speaking of monitoring Press Releases, you should also sign up on publisher websites to automatically receive new Press Releases or Special Announcements. This guarantees that you'll be aware of new information before anyone else (most gaming news sites and blogs already do this, but it takes them longer to get the information out). You should also sign up for news & events on the Investor Relations sites.

The Press Release pages should also be monitored, because occasionally there will be new updates, but automated emails are not sent out. :)

6. Trademarks - USPTO.GOV

Great for finding out game titles months in advance of release or announcement.

Unfortunately, this can't be automated (unless through scripting) so you have to manually search the database for new information.

Outside of Google Alerts, this would be your other bread and butter. Typically, most video game registrations are made in the US first (where the publisher is based.) The Mexican, Australian, Canadian, and European Trademark Search Databases are useless, they lag behind the American based system by weeks or months (and they're missing many US trademarks) so there's no point in using those as a source of information. And, the UK one is just terrible.

The Korean TM Database is a pretty good one, though.

When using USPTO.GOV, if you don't want to specifically search for an Owner (e.g. "Blizzard Entertainment") you could do an "ALL" Search for the keywords "Computer game" or "Computer Software" to see all new Trademark registrations.

This is actually a very fun way of finding out new game titles. You'll have to comb through all of the titles, or look for specific wording like a new Pokemon reference for example. (Make sure you confirm on Google, though, to ensure that no one else has already reported on it though. It might be old information.)

Trademark owners may also have patterns to their registrations. For example, I've found that a lot of trademark registrations happen between May and September. And then things are quiet between mid October and February of the following year. It depends on the TM owner though, and it's something you have to monitor.

If you were a blogger back in 2005-2008 and knew about trademark database searches, you would have been viewed as a GOD knowing all of the new and upcoming game titles months in advance. It wasn't actually until late 2008 and 2009 that people started cluing into TM and Patent offices being a great source of this useful information.

* UPDATE:

Here are some Keyword Searches that you can do yourself under Search Marks > Basic Word > Field: Owner Name and Address

blizzard entertainment
electronic arts
activision
take two
ubisoft
zenimax
bethesda softworks
nintendo
sony
sega
thq
microsoft
square enix
valve corporation (careful with this one, you'll get other companies)
konami
capcom
namco
atlus

When searching for new updates, just keep a mental record of the total Record counts. For example, "Blizzard Entertainment" has 83 records. Whenever that number changes, that's when I scan manually for any new changes. This way, you can go through as many companies as possible. (Keep using the back button to return to the search box.)

7. Copyright Searches & Ratings Approval Boards

This information is farther behind trademark registrations, but it can give you more information about what's in the game.

British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)

Search specifically: http://www.bbfc.co.uk/search/?searchwhere=db&q=blizzard+entertainment
Search all video games: http://www.bbfc.co.uk/search/?searchwhere=db&q=digitalmedia

And here are some others to help you out:

Australian Classification Board
All of the most recent Australian entries (very useful)
Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)
US Classification and Rating Administration
US Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB)
Pan-European Games Information
Singapore's Media Development Authority

8. Recruiting Practices

You can sometimes get a good sense of a game by the types of art a recruiter is interested in. For example; Kenny Carvalho, the Blizzard Titan recruiter, stated that:

At least for me (Blizzard), I look at portfolios before I ever open a Resume. If I see something that looks impressive or shows potential, I will then look at the Resume to see if my analysis of the portfolio makes sense. I wouldn't worry about what game(s) or companies you are or have worked at. Keep your personal portfolio moving forward and you will be fine.
So the first thing he looked at was their portfolio, before even reading the resume. And who specifically did he apply this method to? The following artists who were hired to work on Titan.

Matt "Empty" Taylor
Michael "Orb" Vicente
Laurel "Tully" Austin
Rory "Rory_M" McMahon
Travis "Darkrusader" Castillo
Joshua "Moof" Anderson
Matthew "mheyman" Heyman
Philip "PhilipK" Klevestav
Joshua "Moof" Anderson
Artem "X-Convict" Volchik
Paul "Autodestruct" Richards
Vadim "Slipgate" Bakhlychev
Martin Holmberg
Bram "Peris" Eulaers
Nick Carver
Vitaliy Naymushin aka Rawkstar
Renaud “Guntharf” Galand

If you search their art and portfolios, you may notice a recurring trend from all of the artists. Of all potential artists out there who applied for a job with Blizzard and with all of the different styles, he selected the portfolios that had scifi, armor, robots, ancient cities, and dinosaurs. They must have seemed like a good fit for the Titan project?

It's sort of like information research. If you start working on a new game, and then suddenly the company is researching World War 2 era information or hiring historical experts on related subject matter, chances are that it's a WW2 style game.

9. Other Sources of Information

When searching through resumes, keep in mind that most employees are well aware of keeping confidential information off their public profiles. However, contractors aren't so careful. Search for resumes belonging to Voice and Body actors and for smaller developers they often outsource graphics and audio work to outside contractors as well.

Many resume searches can't be found through Google, so you need to find professional Job Search Databases where you can search through resumes as a potential employer. Target the Actors Jobs databases in particular.

Look for voice actors in other countries, the ones who provide language translations. This is a highly untapped market, and if there is voice acting in Titan for example, you should see multiple voice acting jobs in other countries (China specifically) appear as the game gets closer to the heavy content/lore build out stage. (Unfortunately, by posting this tip Blizzard might be better prepared now.)

Listen to Shareholders calls very carefully, get a recording, and try to obtain the transcript. They often contain a lot of information that are missed by gaming news sites. I've seen it happen MANY times: they only report on official News Releases, but they don't pay attention to little bits of information stated during financial calls. They rely on you and smaller blogs for that type of information. You need to know your subject matter first to know what to listen for.. so try not to look for leaks on too many games, only do it for the developers or games that you love to play.

Will continue to add on to this, there are some other approaches but I just need to decide which to share or not. :)

11th Character Slot Still Unsure

Posted by Daeity On Saturday, October 22, 2011

Question was brought up during the 2nd Day WOW Q&A.

Gregg Street mentioned that they've been talking about this particular question, and one of their ideas is to still have the maximum cap of number of characters, but allow the players to distribute them to whatever specific realm they want. (So, 50 toons on one realm.)

No promises though, it's still being discussed.

I think it's something unavoidable though.

Whoops.. my mic was on.

Posted by Daeity On

Apparently, several Blizzcon live stream listeners overhead a private conversation between Kat Hunter and Geoff Keighley. They weren't aware that their mics were still on, and they were discussing what now is considered a Warcraft IV leak.

This just comes one day after they were talking about how they were surprised there were no leaks. :) It looks like the audio has been cut out (so it wasn't just a rehearsal of something they were going to say) from the stream if you try to rewind now, but I'm hunting around to see if anyone had recorded it.

Here are some pieces of what was discussed:

* Kat Hunter was singing and cursing about her ear piece.
* Kat complaining about Metzen, he was pissed at her for leaking Warcraft 4.

Geoff: "I can't believe you leaked Warcraft 4."
Geoff: "Chris Metzen is pissed about you breaking the news."
Kat?: "Yeah, there was no leaks until Kat Hunter was here"

Sources: 1 2

There a lot of talk on twitter about it too.

Here's a transcript of the conversation, care of Mascotte who still had the conversation cached:

K: Look at those great razer headsets
G: I know
G: Fansy
G: Hello everybody, welcome to our live set
G: (Responding to an unheard question): Yeah
G: (Responding to an unheard question): Right..
(Music playing now, hard to hear anything besides it)
K: Yes thank you
(Someone eating an apple or something)
K: *Coughing*
K: *eating microphone it sounds*
K, now on phone: I need you to do me a favor, you dont have to do it but i need someone to do it this morning, i need you to take the camera in the office, its in the red box by the desk to the left, i need to document every shelf on the store on the backside
(This really isnt interesting at all, just typing this for completion sake)
K: And if someone can take pictures of the front of hall and display cases which is estimated at 4:30
K: And if security stops you say that you have authorization from (full name of someone, not posting since it doesn't add anything) to photograph the art store ony.
K: Thank you, bye.
(couple of seconds of nothing ness)
G(Talking to unknown third person): So am i sure you understand this euh.. Cool.
G: Is there sounds up here or we dont know?
G: OMG they are here! (Reacting to people walking in it seems)
G: For the hordee.., For the hordee
K: Why are they running?
G: For the hordee.., For the hordee
K: Yeah they are coming in.
G: Go go gooo
K: (Awkward laugh)
G: Omg they got warcraft 4 overhere (directed towards the people entering)
K: *Laughing* Yeah..
G: Yes Kat, Kat broke the news yesterday of warcraft 4 (This are his exact words, not MoP, not WoW, Warcraft 4)
K: There are no *Interrupted by G*
G: Metzen was pissed about that.
K: There are no leaks untill Kat Hunter got on stage.
G: I know!
G: Metzen was like how fucking will you..
K: Yeah couldn't believe she (talking in third person now) leaked warcraft 4.
G: Couldn't believe it either!
G: Sow how late was it last night?
K: Didnt get done until 11:30 (This is where the conversation shifts towards what time she ended up going to bed etc so im stopping right here).
Sounds like Kat was imitating Chris Metzen, "I can't believe she leaked Warcraft 4." It was related to a conversation from the previous day with Michael Morhaime where she accidentally asked about WC4 but received no denial (i.e, "All RTS resources currently focused on SC2"). This added conversation, however, does confirm that they know it was an accidental leak.

(I'm still digging up more information, will update as this progresses. But it looks like folks can still record the conversation if it was precached.)

Here we go, this is an audio recording of the WC4 specific conversation towards the end. Even if it was an accident, it shouldn't have been that big of a deal. But Kat sounds very upset about the whole ordeal, Geoff is making fun of her, Metzen is pissed with her, and Blizzard edited the audio stream to remove the conversation. Normally I would just ignore it (ie, the accident from yesterday), but the serious response to the "leak" tells me it was, in fact, a leak. :)

And, here's the full recording, thanks to Mascotte.

Kat made a Twitter response regarding Warcraft 4. It looks like it was posted about 1 hour before her new leak. Poor Kat. Geoff was being a pain in the ass, and she sounded very uncomfortable and maybe a little scared about the whole thing.. but it definitely didn't sound like sarcasm to me.
22 Oct
@kathunter haha, that was icky! we also heard you talk about warcraft 4...oops? ;P
@AmehSweet seriously there is no Warcraft 4. It is a joke from yesterday :)

22 Oct
@kathunter why did you talk about warcraft4 before preshow today but we never heard of it again
@Linkie1987 because Geoff and I were making fun of the misunderstanding the day before. We thought it was funny.
Nice cover. So, Kat Hunter, Licensing Project Manager at Blizzard for almost 3 years, prior Frag Doll, professional gamer, and avid World of Warcraft player was confused about the difference between WoW Mists of Pandaria and Warcraft IV. Uh huh.. sure. :)

Kat Hunter would never.. EVER.. confuse World of Warcraft's "4th Expansion Pack" with "Warcraft 4". A lot of users are attributing her mistake to not understanding the difference, which isn't true.

I wonder if she's talking about the "first mistake" or "second mistake" though, before the confidential conversation with Geoff?

* UPDATE:

If anyone has a virtual pass, would you mind recording the other Kat mention of Warcraft 4? Virtual ticket holders need to goto the WoW Class Talent System panel from day 1, and jump to the end. Then keep jumping forwards until you reach the in-between panel with Geoff and Kat. A YouTube link would be greatly appreciated. :) Apparently, she wasn't joking when she said she spoke to Metzen and other Blizzard developers and they said "Warcraft 4 is coming down the line". It was made distinct from the X4 expansion pack too (she said it was in addition to X4/MoP coming out, so it appears there's a lore integration being made).

There were a total of 3 conversations held regarding Warcraft 4. Only 2 of them were captured and posted publicly unfortunately. The first was with Kat and Metzen (which Blizzard deleted immediately from the stream) where she asked Metzen about WC4 and how she was talking to developers who were working on it, and he became visibily upset (she was definitely not talking to the dev team about MOP though). The second video, which is on YouTube, has Kat trying to cover it. And the third video is when Geoff is making fun of her, while both are trying to play it off as an accident.

That's funny

Posted by Daeity On Friday, October 21, 2011

During that Pre-Show coverage, Geoff Keighley & Kat Hunter were saying that there "Haven't been a lot of leaks" and the first time they haven't had any major leaks. :)

Yeah, right. Guess that's the benefit of having a smaller blog.. a lot of things go unnoticed.

I'll have some thoughts put up later on those other new developments that were announced. The "WOW Annual Pass" thing seemed kind of new and rushed, maybe it was to make up for the missing Diablo 3 release announcement. Things are just way too busy right now, and I've barely had a chance to use the PC. Sunday should be better.

* UPDATE (10/22/11 5:21 AM):

Okay, something SERIOUSLY WTF just happened. I was looking at the imgur link again and the "Posting Date" suddenly changed to "Saturday, October 22 at 10:53 GMT". So, as of right now it's saying it was uploaded "1 HOUR AGO" although it's been showing "2 MONTHS" all week and the post date was actually August 18. I used IMGUR for this exact purpose, so that the post date wouldn't change. I'll investigate to figure out what happened.

* UPDATE (10/22/11 5:57 AM):

Here's a comparison page you can use. This was posted around the same time as the original (so no weird /r/Diablo restructuring.)

Direct Link: http://i.imgur.com/FAp8v.png
Info Page: http://imgur.com/FAp8v

The reason those pages exist were because they were part of a puzzle on the "Important Notices" page.

Here's the specific entry:

* Research research research. If you find new information, share it. It's very important to read everything on the site from beginning to end. It helps many future blogposts make more sense. This blog covers many different topics, and important secrets or hidden gems and puzzles can be found anywhere. Keep your eyes open, investigate, and read..
If you noticed, there was discoloration of certain characters, and if you did a mouse-over you would have discovered "hidden" hyperlinks on the characters.

Each of the hyperlinks went here:

http://i.imgur.com/FAp8v.png - How to piece together the puzzle together
http://pastebin.com/RFUi5Mzz -> The letters "TM" and "Case Sensitive"
http://pastehtml.com/view/b47z32u7o.txt -> a link to Youtube where the letters were "r."
http://tinypaste.com/865cd -> The letters "5Q"

(There are info pages on each of those too showing when they were first uploaded, or when the Youtube comment was first made. I wanted to make sure everything had undeniable evidence, but I didn't anticipate this imgur.com quirk.)

They all combined to make: http://i.imgur.com/ TM 5Q r. png

And I found comments about the puzzle (and specific Blizzcon reveals) here, here, here, and here (this is a page with that Blogspot missing comments problem, but hopefully should be fixed soon.)

I can't believe I have to go through this nonsense. It was just supposed to be cut and dry.

* FINAL UPDATE

Ahh.. here we go! It's a stupid Reddit feature. If you view the "embed codes" on the post, you can see the original posting date: http://imgur.com/TM5Qr?tags

The original is still there. Reddit changed info for some reason whenever it gets linked back.

Chronicle

Posted by Daeity On Thursday, October 20, 2011

Have you seen the trailer for the new movie CHRONICLE? It looks pretty awesome, check it out:



Plot Outline: Three high school students make an incredible discovery, leading to their developing uncanny powers beyond their understanding. As they learn to control their abilities and use them to their advantage, their lives start to spin out of control, and their darker sides begin to take over.

From the trailer, it looks like some real thought went into it.. ie, how people would really behave if the same thing happened to them.

Can't wait to see it when it comes out. Release date is Feb 3, 2012. I hope it's a sleeper hit.

Gaming Leaks; A How To - Part 1

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This is much more difficult now than it used be. Corporations are wising up, they know all the tricks, and their employees are much more prepared and careful. A lot of it is just learning by example too.. when someones blog or resume is exposed, everyone else in the industry reads all about it so they try not to make the same mistakes.

Most gaming developer veterans are careful what they write about, but the best information comes from new hires, interns, and egotistical braggarts.

You can call these "leaks" if you want to.. but they're more like discoveries. Leaks would be something that you confirm from an inside source and usually it's very specific information that's supposed to be confidential.

With all of the recent gaming and information leaks, I figured I would share how some kinds of video game related leaks are discovered. The internet sleuthing site "Supererogatory", for example, made EXTENSIVE use of these techniques for pretty much all of his posts.

1. At the top of your arsenal will be Google Alerts.

Starting out, let's say you want to find some older information on Google. You would use very specific searches like the following:

inurl:resume "Blizzard Entertainment" - the URL has the word "resume" in, and Blizzard Entertainment is a keyword on the page.

Useful for finding those unknown www.brandonsmith.com/resume.html specific sites.

site:cghub.com "David Grexton" - for searching specific sites, especially forums, for any posts that contain this users name.

filetype:pdf resume "Bethesda Softworks" 2011 - for finding PDF or DOC files (typically resumes) with specific information for recent dates.

There are also specific keyword searches, like "Blizzard Entertainment" "Unannounced MMO" or "Blizzard Entertainment" "Next Gen MMO" but these can give you a lot of information that are too many to filter.

Now, most of the historical Google information has already been found or discovered by others. But, what's so great about Google Alerts is that it will automatically email you as soon as a NEW Google entry is made. So, if someone adds a new resume with specific keywords, as soon as Google crawlers capture it, you're notified. Google Alerts is an awesome tool for finding new information, especially when you're filtering by document types or specific keywords.

If you have a Google Alert for just "unannounced game" for example, you'll get too many Google Alerts daily.. so you want to make your alerts as specific as possible.

2. Another great tool is www.LinkedIn.com.

If you want to do any useful searches, you need to sign up with an account.

Google used to be a great search engine for LinkedIn, but they've changed their system and have severely restricted Google crawlers now. For example, you could create Google Alerts like site:linkedin.com "Blizzard Entertainment" and you would be notified immediately when a new account was created with Blizzard in their credentials. You can't do that anymore now. :(

Now, you have to manually search LinkedIn and just keep track of employee names yourself. If you search for "unannounced mmo" blizzard or "next gen" for example, you can find all of the Blizzard employees who are working on the game or have worked on previous unannounced titles. You also need to be creative with your keywords: unannounced, untitled, unnamed, *titled, *announced, next gen, nextgen mmo, secret, project, etc.

If you want to get invited to see more information about a user, all you need is a 3rd degree of separation. There are TONS of employees, industry contacts, and especially recruiters who have a "Will Accept All Invites" policy. Create yourself a name and account, and then do a search for recruiters or keywords like "accepts invites", "all invites", etc. In a couple days, you could quickly generate 100 contacts on your LinkedIn account, with 3rd party connections to all major game developers. This gives you open access to their LinkedIn accounts, and you can typically see more information than what would be available in their public profiles.

3. http://whois.domaintools.com

What's great about this site is that it creates an individual Google-searchable page every time a new domain is registered.

If you type, site:whois.domaintools.com blizzard you can see most domain names with Blizzard within it's title or description.

It's not the most reliable website for historical webpages, but it's great when you create a new Google Alert using the site:whois.domaintools.com command. You can be alerted any time a new domain registration is created within whatever parameters you set.

Sometimes you need to get a little creative.. don't use "Blizzard Entertainment" for example, but rather search using their Administrator or Technical Contact names. Or, have active searches for "DomainsByProxy" or other Proxy companies that hold domains for private entities like many of your favorite game publishers.

More to come..

NDA: Mostly For Bad Reviews

Posted by Daeity On

Anyone getting the impression that the SWTOR Beta NDA isn't going to be lifted until just a couple weeks before retail or maybe even not at all? (ie, once retail hits, then everyone is free to post their reviews.)

I always figured that NDA's were probably lifted late, on purpose, if the developer/publisher knew that the reviews might do poorly. And companies like Blizzard that make great games would typically lift their NDAs much longer before the actual release date.

So, I looked back at some of the major releases over the past few years for comparison:

Age of Conan - NDA lifted May 1 2008, Released May 20 2008 (PVP specific NDA was lifted on Apr 19, but the General/Technical beta remained intact.)
RIFT - NDA lifted Dec 22 2010, Released Mar 1 2011
Earthrise - NDA lifted Jan 25, Released Feb 4 2011
Warhammer Online - NDA lifted Aug 19 2008, Released Sep 18 2008
Hellgate London - NDA lifted Oct 19 2007, Released Oct 31 2007
Matrix Online - NDA lifted Feb 14 2005, Released Mar 22 2005
Tabula Rasa - NDA lifted Sep 7 2007, Released Nov 2 2007 (Early Rls: Oct 30 2007)
Darkfall Online - NDA lifted Feb 18, 2009, Released Feb 25, 2009
DC Universe Online - NDA lifted Dec 6 2010, Released Jan 11 2011
Fallen Earth - NDA lifted Aug 18 2009, Released Sep 22 2009
Champions Online - NDA lifted Aug 17, 2009, Released Sep 1 2009
COD Elite - NDA lifted Aug 16 2011, Released Nov 8 2011
Cataclysm - NDA lifted Jun 30 2010, Released Dec 7 2010
Wrath of the Lich King - NDA lifted Jul 18 2008, Released Nov 13 2008
Starcraft 2 - NDA lifted Aug 17 2009, Released Jul 27 2010
DOTA 2 - NDA lifted Sep 22 2011, TBA 2012 Release Date
Diablo 3 - NDA lifted Aug 1 2011, TBA 2012 Release Date

(I would have liked to include Aion Online, but that game had multiple release dates, name changes, and NDAs for different geographies and it was just too weird.)

Are you beginning to see a pattern? Games that have done poorly (bad reviews) typically had very short periods of time between NDA lift and release (1 month or less). Average games would be about 2 months. And games that the publisher knew would do very well have their NDAs lifted 6+ months in advance.

NDA vs Release Date timing is a very good indicator of how much trust a company has in their game and a good determining factor of success.

It's sort of like preview trailers. If they show more pre-rendered videos and bullet point features than actual gameplay, it's not a very good sign.

If you can think of any other online or MMO games to add to the list, let me know.

Weak-ly Updates

Posted by Daeity On

  • I actually managed to sit through the entire 01x05 Terra Nova episode. Very family and touchy feely, and I don't think it's going to get any more interesting than it has already been. I going to place my bets on the mole to be that adult female actor pretending to be a teenager who lives with Taylor and is Josh's new love interest. I have no idea what her name or character's name is, nor do I care to learn..

  • Once Blizzcon is over (and they announce ticket sales and virtual attendee numbers at their next shareholders meeting), I'll write something up along the lines of that old "Blizzcon Revenue and Costs" post. Should be rather interesting considering the price hikes.

  • Blizzard is entering into a new agreement with AsiaSoft (in Thailand) to distribute their games in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. This is sort of a weird Gamasutra post too. They make it sound like Blizzard games weren't already available in those countries: "AsiaSoft will make these titles available in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, although the company did not indicate when the first games will be available." However, World of Warcraft is already played by many people in those countries (as well as other Blizzard titles.) Most of the players just connect to the Philippines servers for reduced lag, so this agreement might be mostly beneficial in that it would be bringing servers closer to the players. I don't think these new territories are going to have a major boost to subscriber numbers though, but I think it will encourage some new gamers to start playing.

  • Those Blizzard Blade Servers just went up for auction. Apparently, there are a lot of folks who seem to think there's something of value they can extract from the servers.. I guess they're not aware that these don't have any hard drives in them, and it just has a plaque instead. These are the same ones that Blizzard had a silent auction for last year at Blizzcon 2010. But, they're even much older than that. I guess they've been pretty much sitting on a shelf for years now, and they have added the new plaques within the past few months.

  • And finally, here are some classic reads from Blizzard that you might find entertaining. I guess some things change.. belief systems, morality, apparently laws...

    Selling In-Game Content for Real Money | 1/12/2005
    Not only do we believe that it is illegal, but it also has the potential to damage the game economy and overall experience for the many thousands of others who play World of Warcraft for fun.

    If you are found to be selling in-game property (such as coins, items, or characters), for real money, you will lose your characters and accounts, and Blizzard Entertainment reserves its right to pursue legal action against you as well.
    So, back then it was:

    "If you buy an item, that's ILLEGAL. You're breaking the law and it damages the economy and overall experience! If you do this, we'll call the cyber police on you.. consequences will never be the same!"

    Nothing has really changed, but now the attitude is:

    "Well, TCG Loot card mounts have been sold for a long time now, and we've been able to tell it hasn't had any adverse impacts to the game or economy - despite them selling sometimes for astronomical amounts of gold.

    It's no big deal. We're just providing alternative ways for players who don't want to spend real money on these items."

    I'm disappointed that they would change so radically and even try to justify it.

    And there was also these old posts:

    The difference in patch types

    "For World of Warcraft, we will also be adding new content on a regular basis, thus ensuring that there will always be new adventures, new locations, new creatures, and new items to discover."

    Content patches were officially supposed to be delivered on a monthly basis (like what Sony announced for DCUO). Within a 6 month period, Blizzard had already delivered 4 major updates and 9 minor (content) updates.

    What is contained in a regular content patch?

    "Each content update will also bring new quests, items, professions recipes, and continued class improvements."

    Just broken promises.. no big deal.

Can't catch a break..

Posted by Daeity On

  • I entered another Path of Exile beta key contest where I had a 90% chance of winning. I still lost. :)

  • Apparently, it looks like those stupid Blogspot.com issues have been going on for possibly over a month now. I never noticed it until just last week though.

    Some comments had vanished, and there are certain pages/posts where users can leave comments on. There's no way to even tell that though as there's no mechanism that really monitors this sort of stuff.

    For the most part they're not that intrusive, but it's annoying that some of the comment conversations are gone. I have no idea when they're going to be resolved either.

  • I've added a couple other service providers to my "do not trust" list. XS.TO is up at the top, and now I'm adding Pastebin.com and Pastehtml.com. I had put up some stuff on them a few months ago, but I guess someone clicked "Report Abuse" even though they weren't spam and just 2 letter words. I had set them to "Never Expire", but I guess they don't even review complaints, and just go ahead and delete them.

  • And, you know prescription medication where there's an extremely rare probability (less than 1% chance) to get certain unwelcome side effects? Yeah, I got the side effects.

  • Oh, I just got a jury summons too.

It's so quiet..

Posted by Daeity On

I'm finding that investigating new information on the net is getting pretty hard to come by. Unfortunately, there are a lot of tighter controls and internal policies now on how employees are allowed to act or what they are allowed to publish online (small things that they didn't consider before). It wasn't like this 2+ years ago. :)

With all of the exclusive Google sleuthing, I'm also seeing ways in which the search engine can be significantly improved so that casual searchers can get better information. I might write something up on that subject sometime in the future.

Anyways, with most gaming leak information drying up, I'm creating a new post all about finding gaming leaks yourself. And, how anyone can do it themselves with just some simple automated tools.

I'm also trying to finish up a bunch of other stuff, since we'll all be pretty busy this entire weekend and I probably won't be able to post anything new until after the weekend. Other than Blizzcon, I also have a ton of other real life stuff going on this weekend (so I'm going to be missing the second half of the Blizzcon streams on both days unfortunately).

I'm not really expecting much, though. We all pretty much know by now what's going to be happening at Blizzcon:

  • Mists of Pandaria video during the opening ceremonies part providing all of the expansion pack details, the non-hero class, and a playable demo. (I can already hear that same Cataclysm narrator saying: "Azeroth has been shattered, but meanwhile within the MISTS there lurks a new evil..")
  • SC2: Heart of the Swarm video and game details (players will see new units, gameplay sequences, and be able to play the HOTS expansion pack)
  • Diablo 3 (stations setup for playing, new details, more Beta Keys given away)
  • I'm hoping for a little surprise though, like the new D3 release date. After all, the original Blizzcon 2011 plan was to have a big Christmas surprise (i.e. late November D3 release date) announcement.
  • I can see the whole event almost being identical to Blizzcon 2009 actually. Metzen introducing SC2 units, talk about rumor and speculation, and then the big MoP reveal.
  • Mike Morhaime making nervous and unfunny jokes in the beginning before Metzen is brought in. Recap of the "amazing" Blizzcon 2010, and then a recap of Blizzcon 2011 during the closing ceremonies (ugh).
So yeah.. it's all pretty quiet.

But, you know.. there is this little thing that kind of started a little while ago. Enjoy. :)

Leaks List

Posted by Daeity On

I was thinking about going back and updating this old "Leaks, leaks, and More Leaks" post by the Original Daeity.

With all of the recent game leaks happening, it's too hard to pass up keeping that list going. I'm also writing up a bunch of other information leak posts that you'll find very interesting, and I'm trying to pump out all of my drafts and posts as quickly as possible before this weekend when things get really busy for all of us. :)

Here's what I have so far:

Battlefield 3 PC - Leaked Oct 16, Release Date: Oct 25
Gears of War 3 XBOX360 - Leaked Jul 2, Release Date: Sep 20
Batman: Arkham City XBOX360 - Leaked Oct 13, Release Date: Nov 21
RAGE XBOX360 / PS3 - Leaked Sep 30, Release Date: Oct 4
Deus Ex: Human Revolution X360 / PS3 - Leaked Aug 18, Release Date: Aug 23 (Retailer broke street date.)
Resistance 3 PS3 - Leaked Aug 20, Release Date: Sep 6
The Witcher 2 PC - Leaked May 8, Release Date: May 17

Am I missing any other big game leaks?

Old Post Update

Posted by Daeity On

I don't know if you guys noticed or not, but I made a quick update to The Original Daeity's old "Profit from Blizzard Authenticators?" post a while back.

I found an official investment-related document that proved everything he wrote was completely accurate. :)

The "Vasco Data Security International" 2006 document is here.

In it, Vasco (the manufacturer of the Blizzard Authenticator GoPass 6 line) detailed that in 2004, their cost per token was ~$3.50. In 2005, it was ~$3.00 each. And in 2006, it cost ~$2.00 each per token. You can imagine how much they probably cost now, especially with their significantly higher sales figures, bulk purchasing, and new technologies. It would be perfectly fair, though, to state that they cost no more than $2 each.

This document was also for the entire Digipass line, and the Blizzard Authenticator models are what you would call, the "bottom of the barrel." So those "Costs Per Token" also included their more expensive (on average) tokens. :)

Very interesting insight into the company though, for those who are completely convinced that tokens cost $10-20 to manufacture. There are tokens out there that can cost $1 to make, and then wholesalers/resellers put them up for $30-60 each.

If people only knew how much everyday ordinary items REALLY cost to manufacture and ship... :) Corporations need to keep all of this information highly confidential (oil, cars, paper products, food, electricity) or else there would be public outrage.

And so it begins..

Posted by Daeity On

I've been seeing a lot of recent excitement on the Diablo 3 forums about user operated gambling, the most popular of these being the Arena / PVP Gambling.

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3341759283
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3393349439
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3123032773
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3195920425
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3182738500
http://eu.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/2690982214
http://forums.battle.net/thread.html?topicId=27810240878

It's no surprise that a lot of players are highly supportive of gambling within the game and all of this was bound to happen. They're already talking ideas on how to do it, rules, and making initial preparations well in advance of the game's release.

My favorite part was when a user said that placing a wage on an arena fight was not illegal or gambling because their actions are skills-based and there's no luck involved. I love hearing all of these justifications. :)

What's interesting about these forum posts, though, is that they're not being told NOT to do this. These forums are moderated, and when players start talking about gambling, cheating, exploitation, or discrimination in WOW forums, for example, they are reprimanded and censored.

All of this reminds me of classic internet libel cases. Companies are much more "protected" if their forums are left unmoderated because they have no control over what users post. The logic goes something like this; if you have a forum that is unmoderated, it's like a library where users can write libelous material in their books. They don't know about it, and hence can't be held responsible for it. However, if you have complete control over all subject matter and approve what is written, then you are responsible for all content and "officially support" what is written.

Now, that specifically deals with libel of course, but it can also apply directly to personal opinions within any moderated forum. If a forum is moderated and content is reviewed, then anything that is written is "supported" by the forum owner. When you talk bad about a company (their game, rules, people, etc), the content is deleted or edited. Good, supportive, and praising comments are left alone. Of course, some posts are hard to spot, and those get by, but when you have very popular (and multiple) posts with thousands of players saying the same thing, then whatever they write (or the idea they are promoting) is essentially "supported" by the company. :)

That PC Gamer Article Part 2

Posted by Daeity On

Okay, looks like it's finally online now.

It's a very disappointing read, and rather short. Nothing about Lore or Titan like what was implied, it was just a Metzen personal nostalgia and feelings piece..

Apparently, there's more to come though: "Check back tomorrow for part two!" (Even though this article was sort of Part Two already, so the next one would be Part Three.)

That PC Gamer Article

Posted by Daeity On Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Still no updates on that PC Gamer article, where Nathan Grayson semi-implied that there would be more information on Titan lore. I think it was just a weirdly worded post that could be interpreted a few different ways, but it still looks like it was written that way intentionally to bring back his readers.

The latest updates are as follows:

On October 14 (last Friday), the author tweeted "Nearly done transcribing my Chris Metzen interview. He's an '80s nerd child to his very core. It's glorious."

And then followed by, "People are going to laugh at some of the things he said, but the degree of conviction in his words is incredible."

I figured his post would have been done by Monday, but I guess he's working on a lot of other articles.

New Square Enix Trademark

Posted by Daeity On

They just registered for "CORE-ONLINE" and "COREONLINE".

http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=85446293
http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=85446291

I was hoping for a possible Online Mech/Front Mission game (e.g. Armored Core Online), but it appears that "Core Online" is just a gaming service portal.

IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Entertainment services, namely, the provision of online computer game services; online computer game services provided by means of an internet portal; information and advisory services relating thereto
This new registration is actually related to an older September filing called CORE:
http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=85421330

They purchased the "CORE" trademark from another company a really long time ago too:
http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=74299076

They don't appear to own most of the "CoreOnline" and "Core-Online" domains, so I don't think they have any serious or immediate use for this new trademark.

Diablo 3 "Crack" Update

Posted by Daeity On Monday, October 17, 2011

There's been a few new updates on the Diablo 3 Emulator front, it's still in a basic sandbox state though. I figured that since things were so quiet, I might as well start tracking the project and providing updates here for those that were interested.

Here are all of the links to get you started:

Diablo 3 Beta Client: http://us.media.battle.net.edgesuite.net/downloads/d3-installers/4de82d80-ddeb-4e61-80ae-b4e8817f54b0/Diablo-III-Beta-enUS-Setup.exe

Information about various D3 emu server projects: http://twitter.com/#!/diablo3dev

Currently, the best emulator is D3Sharp which has been renamed to Mooege.

Server files are here: https://github.com/mooege/mooege

General Mooege information and help: http://www.mooege.org/

Latest updates on the Mooege project: http://twitter.com/#!/MooegeDev

Autobuilder, updater, and launcher for Mooege: http://mooext.com/

Mooext is a wrapper for the whole Mooege D3 server to make it easier for novices to get into the game.

Prison Kings

Posted by Daeity On Saturday, October 15, 2011

EA has just filed a couple new Trademarks for a game called "Prison Kings". It appears to be a mobile game.

Links:
http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=85443315
http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=85443304

Everyone else is pretty quiet.

SWTOR Sales Speculation

Posted by Daeity On Friday, October 14, 2011

SWTOR will be launching late December, and I thought it might be fun to make some predictions on their future sales figures.

So, Battlefield 3 pre-orders are over 1.5 million (Sept 20, 2011) and over 1.25 million (Sept 7, 2011). And, EA has stated that "SWTOR far exceed BF3's pre-order sales." (July 26, 2011) On August 29, BF3 pre-orders were over 800,000 and SWTOR pre-orders were 380,000. On July 23 (within a couple days of their "far exceeds" announcement, BF3 pre-orders were 467,000 (not including PC, so it was probably close to 500,000.)

(* Updated the entry above because I'm confused. SWTOR pre-orders started on July 21, 2011 but I don't know when the BF3 pre-orders started. BF3 pre-orders should have been around 500,000 at the time of the July announcement, meaning that SWTOR pre-orders should have been between 0.5 and 1 million.)

With December 20 still a couple months away, those pre-order figures will still continue to rise especially as we get closer to the release date.

Right now, pre-orders should be atleast 1.5 million, but because EA stated that they "far exceed" (but not double) BF3 numbers, pre-orders should be about 2-2.5 million. As we get closer to December, pre-orders should be around 2.5-3 million.

(Hey, by the way.. did you notice that the SWTOR pre-order comes with an exclusive Training Droid? It's a non-vanity COMBAT pet. I guess we know EA's stance on virtual items and sales.. if they do this now, you know they'll do it later.)

I kind of have a hard time believing that number though. It's been such a long time that a MMO has been able to achieve those numbers of players.

I looked at RIFT as a possible comparison, but it just won't work. If you try searching for RIFT Subscription Figures, you'll probably come across the "1.3 million subscribers" post on the official forums.

"In a statement today, Trion Worlds announced their new flagship title Rift: Planes of Telara™ has exceeded all expectations, shifting in excess of 1.3 Million units. Digital sales amounted to a staggering 1 million, whilst physical copies came in at a respectable 300,000. A spokesperson was quoted as saying "Maybe we're closer to Azeroth afterall", poking fun at their own marketting slogan in relation to their success in comparsion to the current top dog World of Warcraft."
However, this was just an April's fool joke.. if you couldn't already tell by the multiple spelling errors and poor grammar.

In reality, actual RIFT sales figures are about 400,000.

If you recall, Trion Worlds was bragging a while back about having "One Million Players" but these were just vanity figures invoked from "internal calculations". There's a massive difference between 1,000,000 players and 400,000 games sales (which probably has even less players). There was no outrage about this clear distinction, but WOW fans sure do get upset when you suggest that Blizzard does the same: "What!?? Blizzard would NEVER do that.. it would be ILLEGAL for them to give wrong subscriber numbers. THEY HAVE SHAREHOLDERS TO ANSWER TO DAMMIT! THEY CAN'T JUST MAKE UP SUBS!" Everyone else does it and they have shareholders to answer to.. so, why is Blizzard any different?

And, I can't really compare it to Age of Conan. They anticipated hitting 1M sales, but never reached their target. They also dropped 3/4 of their subscribers after the first month.

There is really no other MMO that can be used as a comparison.

So..

At current trends, there should be at least 3 million subscribers over the first month. This period is crucial too, and they will require excellent online reviews in order for their numbers to continue growing. But, from what I've read online there are a lot of people disappointed by the game and how it's too similar to WOW (which they have stopped playing due to boredom.) Most of the reviews have been very poor, and I know that EA has been trying to control these reviews as much as possible until after the game is officially released.

To that end, here's my prediction:

I think that right out of the gate, SWTOR will sell less than 3 million copies. Most of those figures will be digital / pre-orders. There will be poor reviews post launch, and many players will abandon the game after the first month. It won't be a massive exodus like what AoC experienced, but I'm going to guess at least 30% of the players will quit shortly after their first month (say 2-3 months after launch).

During the first couple weeks, EA/Bioware will be bragging about how great their sales figures are and how "successful" the game still is while trying to keep hype and momentum going. But, gamers will be more interested in the reviews and what their friends think. Normally a publisher would mention what review scores they are receiving and by whom, but in this case they will just pick out "certain quotes" from reviews and post the single quotes instead: "the graphics are phenomenal!", "the story is engaging!", "lag issues weren't that bad..", etc. etc.

(I'm hoping for a review scandal. :) EA threatens to remove advertising revenue due to bad reviews for example. Keep your eyes open on this one.. sudden changes in who reviews the game, reviews are up for a day then deleted, layoffs, angry blog protests, etc.)

During their Q3 2012 Shareholders meeting (during the first week of February), they'll talk about how greatly successful the game was.. and just pretend that their shareholders didn't read any of the reviews.

By mid 2012, subscribers will probably be around 1.5 to 2.0 million at the most. Still, not a bad chunk of probably many WOW (and some RIFT) players.

If I learn anything new, I'll update my estimates before December. But, I think the beta reviews that are slowly leaking out may halt pre-order growth. I might even need to start considering pre-order cancellations if the more disappointing reviews go viral.

* I'm going to have to make some updates, I'll wait to see if EA provides any new information. It's looking more like a RIFT situation though, but maybe with slightly more players in the beginning.

* UPDATE:

I'm going to cut some of those numbers in half, I just find it really hard to believe that a new MMO is going to have any where close to 2 or even 3 million subscribers. I think first month sales will probably be under 1.5 million (approx. 900,000 pre-orders and maybe 300-400k retail sales). I'm still expecting an exodus of players though once the reviews start to hit - so I'm sticking with the approx. 30% cut. I think most reviews will be "disappointing" but if they are "TERRIBLE" reviews, then that exodus will be much larger. If they can keep delivering major content, I think they can stabilize at around 1 million players and then slowly grow to probably 2 million over the first year.

* UPDATE (12/06/11):

I'm going to revise my numbers again. A lot of the information being peddled out by EA/Bioware is very misleading, which actually concerns me. And based on the active beta players, I don't think it's going to be over 1 million. It's "supposed" to be atleast 1.5 million based on what Bioware is saying.. but I'm going to estimate 900k sales for first day sales (which includes all pre-orders.) Even that seems really high and I have my doubts. If they do hit 1 million during the first day, I'll be very impressed.. then after the first month is when things get really interesting. :)

* UPDATE (12/15/11):

Even though sources are saying that pre-orders are near 950,000, the launch is 2 weeks away, and they still don't include digital orders and retail copies, I'm still going to stick with a low number. :)

You'll probably think I'm crazy.

Based on the most internet sites, it "should" be at the very least 1.5 million on the first day, and if you believe the publisher hype, it should be more than 2.5 million first day sales.

Even with all of that overwhelming information, I'm throwing caution to the wind and I'm still sticking with about 900k sales on the first day. If you want some more flexibility, I'll make a guess at somewhere between 800,000 and 1,000,000. :)

The "staying power" of SWTOR will be the most interesting. After the first month, will subscribers rise or fall?