World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria sells 2.7 million in first week

Omri Petitte at

Blizzard announced today Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's fourth expansion, sold 2.7 million units within its first week since launching on September 25. Active subscriptions also jumped past 10 million as a result.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria goodies galore giveaway

Marsh Davies at

Mists of Pandaria launches this very night! From 8:00pm (BST), players will descend on London's confusingly-named Café de Paris to cheer in the latest expansion to Blizzard's venerable MMORPG. To get you in the celebratory spirit, they've kindly offered to give away a haul of Pandaria-flavoured kit.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 will feature a futuristic Nuketown map

Tom Hatfield at

Nuketown was one of the most popular maps in Call of Duty: Black Ops' back shooting filling multiplayer, and a favourite of fans. Now an IGN reader has spotted a poster at Irish game store Xtravision that indicates the beloved map is coming back, but not for everyone.

Mists of Pandaria will fix Talents "once and for all," say Blizzard

Tom Senior at

"Talents should be meaningful game-changers" says WoW's lead systems designer, Greg Street. He's been dissecting the successes and failures of Cataclysm in a frank post mortem on Battle.Net. Talent trees are one of the thorniest problems the World of Warcraft team has had to deal with over the last few years, but Street insists that the major overhaul Blizzard are planning for WoW's talent trees will fix the problems players have been having with the system "once and for all."

Cataclysm made important changes, bringing in a class specialisation choice at level 10 and pruning passive skills that players felt they had to take to maintain the most efficient character build. While Street says that the addition of a level 10 spec choice was "as close to universally acclaimed by players as anything we’ve ever done," he admits that there are still big problems with the current system that Blizzard are determined to resolve in the next expansion.

Planetside 2 creative director predicts an MMOFPS renaissance: "they’re really difficult to make, so good luck”

Owen Hill at

Planetside 2 excitement is hitting an all time high. There’s 30 minutes of footage and a bunch of new screens here, which you should almost definitely watch. It’s like a beautiful dream coming true. A massively multiplayer FPS dream with magnificent scale, day/night cycles, vehicles and jetpacks.

Creative director, Matt Higby is just as excited as the rest of us. "It always blows my mind that there aren't more MMO FPSs" he says, after showing a live demo at GDC.

World of Warcraft's revamped Scrolls of Resurrection let you instantly level a friend to 80

Tom Senior at

If you want to tempt a friend who used to play World of Warcraft back into the fold, the revamped Scroll of Resurrection should do just the trick. Should your friend accept the invite, they'll get a free server switch to your realm and faction, seven days of game time, a free upgrade to Cataclysm and the choice to instantly level up one of their characters to 80. Yikes.

WoW Monopoly, Starcraft Risk... what should come next? Tell us and win EVE: Conquests

Owen Hill at

Blizzard recently confirmed World of Warcraft Monopoly and Starcraft Risk. Exciting stuff for the collector, but I'm not expecting anything that inspired. They'll probably just be reskinned versions of the classic games. And why not? Someone is clearly making a lot of money from the physical equivalent of DLC.

Do a bit of research and things get more interesting. There are already World of Warcraft and Starcraft board games available. They're appropriately themed to mesh with the game lore and, according to the informed hivemind that is Boardgamegeek, genuine fun to play.

How one WoW player's eye for fashion made a million gold in 45 days

Owen Hill at

I hate the quandary between stats versus looks in MMOs. That's why I love transmogrification; it lets you copy the appearance of one magical item onto another. In practice that means you can take two items: one powerful, one dapper and combine them to make a pretty thing with great stats.

The concept is nothing new, but it wasn't introduced to World of Warcraft until last November's patch 4.3. One man - appropriately known as The Mogfather - saw potential for extreme virtual wealth.

The Mogfather's goal was to prove how profitable the transmogrification could be. Players aren't able to sell any products created by the process, but that didn't deter the entrepreneur. He started buying up auctions for cheap armour that looked cool: "When I looked at those armor sets that were primarily made up of lower-level items from The Burning Crusade and vanilla, my design eye kicked in," the Mogfather told Joystiq. And he did all this before patch 4.3 landed.

Then, once the new feature hit, he relisted his designer items at a higher price based purely on their aesthetic appeal. "I took the pricing spread of fashion and brought it to my markets."

Diablo III's Balance goes live

Henry Winchester at

In a flurry of alliteration, Blizzard’s Balance has finally been unleashed. The service allows gamers to add funds to their account using online transaction services such as PayPal, and it’s being tested in the Diablo III beta. The account also gives gamers somewhere to store hard-earned cash accumulated in Diablo III’s auction house.

The big question is whether or not gamers will be able to withdraw funds from their Balances into the real world. According to Blizzard’s FAQ, this will be allowed “in certain regions”, but a fee will be charged. It’s also optional in Diablo III’s auction house, so you can still purchase items via traditional methods like PayPay and credit cards. Blizzard states that standard auction house fees will be applied to transactions regardless of where they’ve come from.

Opinion: Why World of Warcraft's new talent system doesn't go far enough

Tim Edwards at

I don’t envy the World of Warcraft development team. They’ve got a population of 10+ million players to please, a relentless stream of expansion packs and patches to deliver, and a vast array of content to refresh and balance. It’s a hard job. Right now - they’re taking on one of the hardest jobs possible: introducing fundamental change to the core mechanics of the game - the talent system - in an attempt to improve it.

The new talent system let you assign points into a tree of abilities every level or so. Instead, you’re given a menu of abilities that unlock at pre-defined intervals, and at those intervals you’ll pick one from three. It feels, immediately, less RPG-y that by not assigning points every level (or in Cata, every other level) you’re making less choices. But, I do agree with Ghostcrawler who pointed out in his blog that “you will have more choices that *matter*.”

World of Warcraft is seven, free stuff for all players

Henry Winchester at

If World of Warcraft were an Indian child, it would have just reached the age of criminal responsibility. This is a round-about way of saying that World of Warcraft is seven years old. To celebrate the game being legally responsible for its actions - if it were an Indian child - developers and publishers Blizzard are giving away a “Celebration Package” item, according to their official blog and reported by our chums at CVG.

The item consists of a few fireworks, a “feat of strength” added to your achievements, a visual only tabard and a 7% bonus to experience and reputation gains while active. To get the package, you’ll need to log in between now and 3 December. "It’s been a truly incredible seven years, and we’d like to thank you all for joining us for yet another fantastic year," say Blizzard, adding a request that players "please observe all goblin and gnome fire hazard warnings and celebrate responsibly."

Got a Blizzcon ticket and cash to spare? Buy some limited edition tat

Owen Hill at

I'm a sucker for official merchandise. Not so much t-shirts and hoodies but classy stuff like plushies and figurines. That's why the official post-Blizzcon sale has got me interested. These products might be overpriced (and some might qualify as girl-repellent) but they're official and limited in number.

The special merchandise is available from now until November 18 at 10 a.m. PT. To gain access to the items, sign into the site with your Blizzcon 2011 ticket, virtual ticket or Blizzcon 2011 Pay Per View pass. Then enter your credit card details and bankrupt yourself!

Let us know what's in your basket/wishlist in the comments. I want the Diablo 3 t-shirt featured in the thumbnail image, lots. Whoops! I just contradicted the first line of this post. Sorry.

Panda-ing to the hardcore: Blizzard’s Greg Street on Mists of Pandaria’s difficulty levels

Henry Winchester at

In World of Warcraft, balance is king. With such a huge userbase, it’s essential to ensure noobs are able to play the game without feeling frustrated. At the same time hardcore players need a tooth-grindingly tough experience.

We caught up with World of Warcraft's lead systems designer, Greg Street at Blizzcon. He admits that most recent expansion Cataclysm got it a bit wrong. “In Wrath of the Lich King we heard from our players that the PvE content was too easy,” says Street. “So we were like okay, clearly what we need to do is make the PvE content harder, which we did for Cataclysm and then players told us ‘it’s too hard, I can’t handle it!’”

PC cleans up at the Golden Joystick Awards

Owen Hill at

Whoa. When did PC gaming become so damn... award-winning?

PC has cleaned up at the Golden Joystick awards with a wealth of exclusives. And the non PC exclusive games that took an award? We get to play most of those too, only more anti aliased, and in a better resolution.

The best bit? Gamers voted for these. Real-life gamers with strong opinons. A record-breaking 2.06 million of them in fact. Well done PC gaming community - you rose to the challenge and pwned.

Click through for the full results. Don't agree with some of the winners? It's time for a furious debate. See you in the comments.

Firefall's Mark Kern: "There are horrible ways to implement free to play"

Owen Hill at

A few weeks ago we introduced Mark Kern's "Circle of Suck." But we also talked to the Red 5 dev about the difficulties of creating a free to play MMO. Turns out it's pretty damn difficult.

"I think there are horrible ways to implement free-to-play" said Mark.

"You’ve got to understand that for a lot of these large publishers, it’s very hard for them to comprehend how free-to-play would work and to take the risk of doing free-to-play with an AAA game."

The Red 5 developer says that too much greed can break the model: "They’re under the mentality that everybody must pay; no-one gets a free ride. And so you get these warped models like, 'buy the box, pay a subscription, we’ll give you in-game advertising and you have to buy microtransactions or sell power all at the same time.' That doesn’t really work."

How Blizzard's Guardian Cub pet could change World of Warcraft's economy forever

Owen Hill at

The official World of Warcraft blog has has just spilled the info on World of Warcraft's new Guardian Cub tradeable pet.

Cute pets in WoW? That's nothing new.

But pets that can be bought for real-life cash and then traded in the in-game Auction House? That sounds like a currency to me. A proxy currency that might provide WoW with the missing link between real-world money and your Azeroth gold. Is WoW going a bit Diablo 3?

Bioware: "There will always be a place for premium content at a premium price"

Owen Hill at

We've already reported on John Smedley's take on subscription-based MMOs. The Sony Online Entertainment president told that they're on the way out: "In my opinion [Star Wars: The Old Republic] is going to be the last large scale MMO to use the traditional subscription business model. Why do I think that? Simply put, the world is moving on from this model and over time people aren't going to accept this method."

Now the Bioware doctors have had a chance to respond. Their upcoming MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic, will require subscription costs identical to the already-established World of Warcraft. That's $14.99/£8.99/€12.99 per month.

World of Warcraft 4.3 patch is a loregasm. Plus: why 4.3 can’t be the end for Cataclysm

Tim Edwards at

Deathwing skewered on the perch of Wyrmrest Temple. The tortured ghosts of Sylvanas, Jaina and Tyrande. Mannaroth! Again! Last night, Blizzard released details of the new dungeons and raids coming to World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. I’ve got some bad news.

They sound amazing. Prepare for a loregasm.

There are three five-mans and one raid coming to 4.3. The five-mans tell the story of heroes charging through time and space to retrieve the Dragon Soul, an ancient weapon that Thrall and the remaining sane Dragon Aspects reckon could defeat Deathwing. The raid is the run up to, and the final Deathwing fight - running up Wyrmrest Temple before being plunged into the Maelstrom.

So: first to the end of the World. Of Warcraft. In End Times.

Blizzard music store now open, World of Warcraft, StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3 music for sale

Tom Senior at

Ever wanted to stride down to the local store while listening to World of Warcraft soundtrack, turning your sortie for sundries into a grandiose quest to obtain milk because you suspect the milk you have has gone off and you're not sure but screw it you can never have enough milk anyway? Well then you'll be delighted to discover that Blizzard have opened up a music store, selling soundtracks to World of Warcraft, StarCraft 2, Diablo 2 and even a bit of music from Diablo 3.

Each individual track costs $0.99 and albums cost $9.99. Stick the StarCraft 2 music on in the background while preparing dinner this evening, and use your skyrocketing actions per minute ratio to make a feast fit for a Zerg brood.

World of Warcraft subscription decline "makes sense" says lead dev. PC is "re-emerging"

Owen Hill at

Tom Chilton, lead developer on life-altering MMO, World of Warcraft, has been speaking to us about the recent dip in World of Warcraft's playerbase and the value of PC as a gaming platform.

Tom says that PCs are on the up, and that the "big spike" and "bigger dip" in player numbers post-Cataclysm is not a cause for concern. This is good news for everyone.