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World of Warcraft

Global Chat: A blast from the past

World of Warcraft, Asheron's Call, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, Vanguard, Guild Wars 2, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge

As many of you know, Massively doesn't really believe in reviews of MMOs, as they are ever-changing and shifting targets. Instead, we've provided impressions and continuing coverage of these games during their lifespans (and even after), which is something that many bloggers also favor.

In this edition of Global Chat, we have several hands-on impressions of MMOs both new and old from the blogosphere. What is it like to head back to Asheron's Call after a long time away? Is Guild Wars 2's and Lord of the Rings Online's new content hitting the mark? And what will we miss most of all now that Vanguard has departed? It's all there and more, right after the break!

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World of Warcraft drops another 800k subscribers; Diablo III has sold 20M units

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Subscription

WoW
Today's Activision Blizzard earnings call revealed that World of Warcraft has suffered another significant hit to its subscriptions: The game has lost 800,000 subs over the last quarter, bringing the playerbase down to 6.8 million subscribers.

The game announced a loss of 100k last November, a gain of 200k in February, and another loss of 200k in May. WoW has lost over 3 million players in the gap between Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor.

Blizzard claims that most of the losses were "disproportionately concentrated in the East."

There is some good news for the company: ARPG Diablo III has sold over 20 million copies since its launch in spring 2012.

World of Warcraft announces the release date of the release date of Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Expansions, News Items, Subscription

Prepare to complete the preparation for completion.
Good news, World of Warcraft fans! Warlords of Draenor doesn't have a release date yet, but we now have a release date for its release date. Yes, Blizzard is hosting a big event on August 14th to unveil the game's opening cinematic, which will also reveal the date when Warlords of Draenor is releasing. The whole event will be streaming for free online, or if you're in Los Angeles, you can head down to the Ace Theater and view it in person.

In the event that you make the trek out to the theater, you'll be duly rewarded with a beta key for Warlords of Draenor and you'll get to enjoy sitting in the same room with the minds behind the expansion. Doors open on location at 8:30 a.m. PDT, with streaming starting at 12:30 p.m. EDT (9:30 a.m. PDT). Then you can enjoy the release... of the release.

WoW Archivist: One night of payback in 2006

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, PvP, Roleplaying, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, WoW Archivist

Theramore
WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on August 1st and is included here by permission.

An interesting aspect of the ongoing Ashran faction hub debate is the fear people express that their hubs will be raided by enemy players, since the new hubs are adjacent to a PvP zone. Blizzard pointed out that the hubs will be better defended by NPCs than the Shrines are now, and the Shrines currently see few serious attacks on live realms, despite their close proximity.

On most realms today, little large-scale world PvP occurs, and even fewer faction raids. Faction raids were once a huge part of the game, even on PvE realms. You couldn't kill opposing players on PvE realms if they didn't want to be killed, but you could deny them their questgivers, flightmasters, and other crucial NPCs. And we did that, on both sides, throughout classic WoW.

Easy targets like the Crossroads, Astranaar, Grom'gol, and Refuge Pointe were raided almost daily. If your faction was heavily outnumbered, like mine was on Khadgar-US back then, it could be infuriating. We had our small victories at times, as I covered in my first Archivist column. But many days, all we could do was stand by and watch as the Alliance occupied our towns for hours at a time and took away our ability to level effectively.

On our first anniversary in 2006, my guild set out for some payback. Today I'd like to share that tale of classic world PvP from the era when faction raids were serious business.

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World of Warcraft adds the Alliance motorcycle after all

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, News Items, Subscription

Has no one realized this thing looks like a broken snowmobile yet?
In a twist that will stun everyone who is easily stunned, it turns out that the Alliance chopper is indeed being added to World of Warcraft with the arrival of Warlords of Draenor. Those of you who watched Azeroth Choppers from start to finish might have been surprised at the whole idea of only one bike design seeing implementation, but odds are you (and pretty much everyone else) saw this coming.

Worth noting, however, is that the chopper will cost money and will be available only to Alliance players. By contrast, the Horde chopper will be given away for free to players who log in before September 30th. Since it will not be possible for the opposite faction to ride a given chopper, this does mean that the Alliance version will end up being something of a gold sink for Alliance-only players. But, hey, you're getting it in the game; isn't that the important part?

The Daily Grind: Does world PvP have to be spontaneous to be fun?

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind

I love big battleground PvP. I admit it. I may have cut my teeth in the FFA ganker land of classic Ultima Online, but I didn't enjoy it nearly so much as I enjoy two (or three!) huge swarms of people crashing into each other Pelennor Fields style. That's why World of Warcraft's attempt to recreate world PvP in upcoming expansion zone Ashran intrigues me. Yet Massively commenters have criticized Blizzard, suggesting that it's impossible to bottle up the fun of old Southshore and pour it back out into Ashran because Southshore's magic was in its spontaneity.

At least that was the fun if you weren't on a server where your faction just got rolled repeatedly. Or if you weren't a newbie trying to quest in Southshore while the level 60s farmed each other for points. It didn't feel all that spontaneous on my server, come to think of it, since both sides would line up outside the village automatically every day; the vast majority of spontaneous PvP I see on my PvP server is just ganking lowbies or soloers, not the epic GvG sort you tell stories about later. And I'm pretty sure I'd trade the cheap thrill of spontaneity for a fair fight with some real objectives, the bigger the better.

How about you? Must world PvP be spontaneous to be fun?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

WoW's Warlords of Draenor expansion is making faces at you

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Races, Subscription

WoW
When Blizzard launches World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor expansion later this year, players will be getting more than just the long-awaited character body model upgrades; they're also getting new facial geometry. Art Director Chris Robinson wrote today on the game's official blog,
Our next big focus is doing justice to the facial options. With the original models and their simplistic geometry and low-resolution textures, a lot of facial expressions were simply painted on. Now that we've moved to higher-polygon models with lips, teeth, and fully articulated faces-not to mention higher-resolution textures-recreating those same facial options isn't as simple as painting them onto a flat surface. Previously, to get a sneer out of a model, you'd just paint a sneer on its face, and that was that. To do it correctly now-and make it look great-we have to fully pose a sneer, create a custom texture, and mesh that base pose with all of the existing emotes and animations.
Robinson also said that Blizzard is "committed" to launching all of the new models together rather than roll them out independently post-launch, but a later tweet indicated that Blood Elf models will not make it in for launch.

Get the full story of Warcraft in 40 minutes

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Lore, Subscription

wow
The story of Warcraft is large, if I'm in the mood to be understating the real truth. If you feel overwhelmed by the decades of lore that Blizzard's built up around the game and have only scratched the surface of who did what and why this is here, then we have a way to help you get a handle on it all.

In just a little over 40 minutes, an annotated video covers the highlights of the entire Warcraft timeline and universe. Even without going into great depth, it's an excellent crash course for the aspiring loremaster. It's too bad you don't get an achievement once you've mastered it! You can give it a watch after the break.

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SDCC reveals new details about the Warcraft movie

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, News Items, Miscellaneous

You are officially allowed to request a refund if the name Leeroy Jenkins is uttered during the film's runtime.
Are you excited for a movie about World of Warcraft? Because the Warcraft movie won't be about that, exactly; it's focused on the backstory of World of Warcraft, specifically how the First War got started before the first Warcraft game. At SDCC, some new details were revealed about the title, which is currently set for release in theaters in March of 2016.

The story will focus on both sides of the conflict, with Durotan being the central character of the orcish side and Anduin Lothar taking up the protagonist mantle on the human side. A teaser trailer was also shown with a blend of both CGI and live effects, although the trailer has not yet been released to the general public. Director Duncan Jones stressed that he wants the film to be accessible to everyone and not just existing fans of the fanchise; it'll be a couple more years until fans can see how well that goal was accomplished.

World of Warcraft shows off revamped Tauren ladies

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, News Items, Races, Subscription

No word on whether or not their portraits will finally open their eyes.
As Warlords of Draenor approaches release, the art team behind World of Warcraft continues finishing the revamped models for the game's races. The latest race to get a revamp is the female Tauren; while male Tauren have been in the beta client for quite some time, players have until now seen only quick shots of what the new female model would look like. Now you can see her in all her glory, and even at a glance it's a massive improvement.

The original model was extremely angular and low-detail due to the technology available when the game was first made, but the revamped model has much more definition in her fur and body shape. The only big silhouette change is a shrinking of her hands, with the official design blog calling the original model's hands "out of control." Take a peek at the official preview for more details on the updated ladycows.

World of Warcraft posts details on the Arena Invitational World Championships

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Events (Real-World), PvP, News Items, Subscription

Just chlling.  Hey.
This year's BlizzCon will feature a no-holds-barred fight to the finish. Sadly, that doesn't mean that an official MMA tournament event will be taking place; it just means that the World of Warcraft Arena Invitational World Championships will be going down, pitting teams against one another for glory, honor, and the satisfaction of taking home up to $120,000 dollars. Who wouldn't like that?

The eight teams selected for play will be fighting in a best-of-seven format, starting with the Nagrand Arena and moving on to other maps at the selection of the losing team. The matches will last until elimination or until 15 minutes have passed, whichever happens first. Those unable to attend BlizzCon on November 7th and 8th will be able to stream the matches online, although no details on doing so are yet available. If you are attending, though, get ready to watch the best of the best mix it up in the arenas.

WoW's Warlords of Draenor beta: Questing, mechanics, and concerns

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, Subscription

The past is haunting you.
Tell me if this sounds familiar if you've played World of Warcraft: Your faction's forces are unexpectedly trapped in a strange new world with some familiar elements but a large number of unfamiliar ones. You are facing both the other faction and a new almost unknown foe, forcing you to seek allies immediately. Unfortunately for you, the local inhabitants have their own customs and lives, and you're going to need to start forging alliances to deal with this largely alien region.

Yes, that's the Warlords of Draenor starting experience as well as the Mists of Pandaria starting experience. What sets the two apart, aside from MoP's clever use of mini-hubs moving out in a sort of spiderweb fashion, is that MoP approached its story by easing up on the pressure early in the plot. You start settling into a rhythm, putting down the conflict with the enemy a little more, dealing with the inhabitants on their terms. The overarching conflict was there, but it had time to fade into the background. Not so here; the conflict with the Iron Horde squats on your shoulder and screams at you, crow-like, preventing you from thinking even for a second that you might want to explore this strange fantasy world.

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WoW's Warlords of Draenor beta: The disappointment of garrisons

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, Housing, Subscription

This house is not a home.
Once a player finishes the introductory quests for Warlords of Draenor, the Horde and Alliance gangs go in separate directions, and I had slightly higher hopes for the rest of my beta experience. The introduction was kind of a wash, a climactic third act delivered we'd been left out of the first two acts unless we'd read novels and participated in an event that's not yet live. But Shadowmoon Valley was where I could start seeing the pure promise of this expansion realized, the beautiful idea of a Draenor still filled with Draenei before the corruption and assault of the Horde, an alien landscape far from what was familiar on Azeroth. Not too far, of course, but just far enough to feel like we'd really come to a strange new place. And, of course, the first thing you do is unlock your Garrison.

If my first impression of the WoD beta, which I posted last week, was negative, then this is where it took a sharp nosedive into something resembling rage. But let me start off with a statement that might seem to make no sense, in this context: I've always been fine with housing never being a part of World of Warcraft.

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See the savage beasts of WoW's Shadowmoon Valley

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Subscription

Blizzard released a dev blog on World of Warcraft's Shadowmoon Valley over the weekend, and it's filled with prose and images detailing the regions beasts. These include riverbeasts, podlings, elekk, and even "enormous sentient trees" that may give would-be lumber collectors a bit of pause.

WoW Archivist: More beta surprises

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Opinion, Subscription, WoW Archivist

Sylvanas models through the years
WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on July 18th and is included here by permission.

As the Warlords of Draenor beta rolls onward, Blizzard keeps managing to surprise us. Recently we've learned about a huge overhaul to guild systems, random upgrades for quest rewards, and an extra-awesome core hound mount.

In the last WoW Archivist column, we looked at the surprises from the original beta and the betas of The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions. This time, we continue with Wrath and also look at the surprises during the Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria betas. As before, I won't go into storyline surprises here. And I won't cover surprises announced at BlizzCon outside of a beta. BlizzCon already has its own feature for controversial surprises.

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