Blizzard revealed its new Battle.net Battletag system this week, giving thousands of fans RealID flashbacks. The new system will allow cross-game communication between StarCraft, World of Warcraft, Diablo III and other titles without disclosing players' email addresses. Blacklight: Retribution's development continued at pace as the game adds European servers to its third round of closed beta. Brawl Busters saw its official release this week, and the first ever standalone MOBA, the 2009-released Demigod, finally made its way to Steam. Finally, Bloodline Champions hosted a new competitive online tournament and... a bakery contest?
Skip past the cut for details of this week's biggest news from the world of MOBAs and other big online games that aren't quite MMOs.
League of Legends, and to celebrate, Riot Games kicked off the Snowdown Showdown with Christmas-themed runes, alt avatars and a winter version of the main game map. Continuing with the wintery theme, this week's summoner showcase shows off several fan versions of Maokai's alternate Christmas tree skin.
We were treated to two champion spotlights this week, with classic champion Gangplank being revisited and new champion Ahri finally going live. Gangplank recently received a revamp of his abilities, and it seems players and Riot are still figuring out how best to play with the new version. A surprisingly large number of fans have responded negatively to the champion spotlight's gameplay suggestions, while others have posted in support of Phreak's advice, citing examples of professional teams using similar builds and strategies. Check out the video below and come to your own conclusions.
As part of previously announced season two balance changes, the dodge stat is due to be completely removed from the game once all champions that use it are redesigned. The first step toward this change was the removal of all dodge runes in summoner profiles, which happened over the past few days. Players who previously had dodge runes will find them missing but will have been compensated with an equal value of cash shop currency. As some champions still use dodge, the runes will be left in the store, and you can repurchase them if you really need to. Once all champions that use dodge have been redesigned, a second round of refunds will be given out.
As if that weren't enough big League of Legends news for one week, this week marks the conclusion of Riot's Wear it Proudly t-shirt design contest. The overall winner has been chosen, and players can now vote on which of the 16 runners-up will also make it into the store. The voting is now open on the forum, and there are some fantastic entries to pick from.
Firefall has gained quite a following, and as happens with any online community centred on a fictional world, eventually people attending gaming events start to cosplay as their favourite characters. Red 5 Studios proved that it's a massive supporter of cosplay this week with the announcement of the Firefall cosplay programme.
Professional cosplay artist Crystal Graziano has joined the Red 5 team to become the face of Firefall by cosplaying as its female protagonist Mourningstar at conventions and trade events around the world. She is joined by award-winning Hollywood effects artist Steve Wang, who is credited with creating some of the iconic costumes from films like Predator and Hellboy. Check out the video below for behind-the-scenes footage of the Mourningstar costume being created.
Blacklight: Retribution has been enjoying a successful third phase to its closed beta, this week expanding the beta to include localised European servers. The new servers will give European testers lower latency and should act as a proof-of-concept for the rollout of further regional servers as required. If you haven't managed to get into the Blacklight: Retribution beta, head over to our sister site Joystiq to grab a free beta key before they're all gone.
the company's new Battletag concept could give you flashbacks. Battletags will be globally identifiable names that will allow communication across all Battle.net games, including World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo III and Blizzard DOTA. Unlike RealID, this new system doesn't require players to give out their email addresses to participate. Instead, players pick a nickname to be used across all the games and are then issued with a four-digit code. Other players can only contact you on the system if they have both your chosen nickname and your identification code, a system designed to cut out spam and keep Battletags as an opt-in service. You can head over to register your chosen name now, but there's no hurry -- chosen nicknames aren't unique, so you'll never find yourself unable to pick the name you want.
Stunlock Studios announced Bloodline Champions' new Steelseries Sensei Winter Tournament, a European competitive 3v3 competition with prizes of Steelseries gaming peripherals. If competitive gaming isn't your thing, Stunlock has also launched a creative baking contest with smaller in-game prizes. To enter, all you have to do is bake a Bloodline Champions-themed cake or pastry and post a picture or video of it on the contest forum thread.
Brawl Busters officially launched. To celebrate the end of its open beta, developers have released a brand-new game mode, a new district, holiday-themed equipment and a new leaderboard system.
Defense of the Ancients mod. Demigod by Gas Powered Games is often credited as the first DotA-based game as it was released in 2009 by publisher Stardock. Until now, the game hasn't made its way onto Steam because Stardock sold the game via its competing digital distribution service Impulse. When Impulse was sold to GameStop in May 2011, games from its library began making their way to Steam to take advantage of the platform's colossal userbase. This week Demigod joined that list of titles as it officially released on the Steam platform.
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