League of Legends gets World of Warcraft Veteran game designer

World of Warcraft veteran leaves Blizzard to join RIOT Games as League of Legends developer.

Greg Street

Former World of Warcraft lead systems designer Greg Street has updated his LinkedIn profile to reflect that he is now a lead game designer at Riot Games.

The Linked profile doesn’t indicate the project he is working on at Riot Games. In a post on his Twitter account, Street alluded to the change but implied it would be some time before he provided more clarification on it.

“Thank you for all the recent tweets, but I think the appropriate thing for me to do is lie low for awhile,” Street said. “I won’t vanish forever. Cheers.”

Street, also known as Ghostcrawler on the World of Warcraft forums, had been with Blizzard for nearly six years when he left last month. Prior to that, he worked at Microsoft’s Ensemble Studios as the lead game designer on Age of Empires III.



Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls adds The Mystic to its Artisans

Diablo 3‘s Reaper of Souls expansion will see the addition of a new Artisan, Myriam Jahzia, the Mystic. She’ll aid players in their quest to keep the forces of Hell at bay by Enchanting and Transmogrifying their items, Blizzard explained in a post that reintroduces the Mystic.

Enchanting in Reaper of Souls allows players to re-roll one of the properties of a rare or legendary class item for another, possibly better random property. Players are required to pay a gold and material cost to complete the Enchanting process, but the Mystic’s skills will likely pay off for players looking to tweak an item that’s not perfectly suited to their needs.

Transmogrifying an item in Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls lets players alter the appearance of that item without sacrificing its properties. Players who prefer the look of a particular armor item, for example, can visit the Mystic and pay in gold to change its style, leading to better dressed heroes. There are some restrictions and rules that govern Transmogrifying in Reaper of Souls, which Blizzard details at the official Diablo 3 site.

The Mystic was originally planned to appear in Diablo 3, but the developer removed her from the game after determining that her function was redundant in the game’s customization system.

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls is scheduled for release in 2014 on PC and PlayStation 4.



Vivendi tries to appeal stalled Activision Blizzard sale

Preliminary injunction could tank Activision Blizzard’s bid for independence.

Activision Blizzard and parent company Vivendi have filed an emergency appeal of a recent ruling that stopped the $8.2 billion sale of Vivendi’s controlling stake, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. Last week, a preliminary injuction was released that said shareholders had to vote before Vivendi could part with its stake in Activision. The injunction was due to a lawsuit by shareholder Douglas Hayes, who claimed that Vivendi’s board violated rules by failing to get an approval from a majority of its stockholders.

“The injunction leaves Activision and its stockholders in limbo and at risk of losing an $8 billion deal that will return the company to public control,” lawyers for Activision wrote.

Documents filed with the Delaware Supreme Court say the injunction harms Activision minority shareholders by putting the sale in jeopardy. Neither company has a way to get a shareholder vote through before the termination of the agreement on October 15. The court has an October 10 hearing on Activision and Vivendi’s appeal.

Vivendi contend that the deal is a share buyback, so no vote is needed. The original deal would see ASAC II, an investor group led by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and co-chairman Brian Kelly, buying 172 million shares from Vivendi for $2.34 billion. At the same time, Activision Blizzard would buy back nearly 429 million shares for $5.83 billion. The two transactions would remove Vivendi’s 61 percent stake in the company.

The appeal is filed under: The Activision Blizzard Inc et al v Douglas M. Hayes, Delaware Supreme Court, No. 497, 2013.



Blizzard to remove real-money auction house from Diablo III

Developer acknowledges that it “ultimately undermines Diablo’s core game play: kill monsters to get cool loot”

By way of background, Diablo, as a series, has always been about killing monsters to get weapons and armor, which lets you kill bigger monsters that hold better items. In a world of loot, this series is one of the original and one of the best. The focus on loot bred extensive player trading economies in both Diablo 1 and 2, as well as black markets. With Diablo 3, Blizzard wanted to bring the entire player economy under its own roof, and find a way to make money off of it. Enter the real money auction house, where players could trade their goods for in-game currency or real currency, with Blizzard taking a cut of any real-money transactions. Suffice it to say, there were some potential problems.

For one thing, this meant that any potential hack or exploit where players could get more or better loot than they were supposed to became a potential moneymaker, as well as potentially criminal. Early on, the company had to shut down the auction house based on a gold-duplication exploit. There were also players whose accounts got hacked into and their gold stolen. Blizzard struggled to make this concept work, but as this recent decision proves, it just wasn’t feasible.

So this early effort to monetize player economies is fizzling out, but trust me, it won’t be the last. There’s no MMO in existence that hasn’t bred some kind of black market to go along with it, and everyone making these games recognizes the potential revenue stream there, especially as the concept of subscription MMOs is continually called into question. Less easily manipulated console games might be better suited for leading the way, but once one game cracks others are sure to follow.

The idea of a real-money auction house in a Diablo game has been a controversial and divisive point for many gamers since it was first announced. While Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime first defended the idea, noting that it was being included “to provide convenience and peace of mind for those players who might otherwise turn to third-party services to buy items,” the studio has now backtracked, saying it undermines Diablo III’s gameplay.

In a post on the official Battle.net website, Blizzard has officially announced its decision to remove the gold and real-money auction house system entirely. The auction house system, which saw multiple delays before finally being implemented last June, will shut down on March 18, 2014.

“When we initially designed and implemented the auction houses, the driving goal was to provide a convenient and secure system for trades. But as we’ve mentioned on different occasions, it became increasingly clear that despite the benefits of the AH system and the fact that many players around the world use it, it ultimately undermines Diablo’s core game play: kill monsters to get cool loot. With that in mind, we want to let everyone know that we’ve decided to remove the gold and real-money auction house system from Diablo III,” said Blizzard’s John Hight.

“We feel that this move along with the Loot 2.0 system being developed concurrently with Reaper of Souls will result in a much more rewarding game experience for our players. We’re working out the details of how the auction house system will be shut down, but we wanted to share the news as soon as we made the decision in order to give everyone as much advance notice as possible.”



WoW: Mists of Pandaria ‘Siege of Orgrimmar’ trailer

A four-minute cinematic sets the scene for new Patch 5.4 raid

Blizzard has released a new cinematic trailer for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria’s Siege of Orgrimmar raid coming in Patch 5.4.

“Siege of Orgrimmar is a 3-wing, 14-boss raid for max-level players, which will call you to take down Warchief Garrosh Hellscream at the head of a host of Azeroth’s finest,” explains Blizzard.

The update also adds new Proving Grounds and Connected Realms features, new zones and a list of other tweaks.

Here’s are the highlights of the update:

New Raid: The Siege of Orgrimmar
– The Siege of Orgrimmar is a 3-wing, 14-boss raid for max-level players, which will call you to take down Warchief Garrosh Hellscream at the head of a host of Azeroth’s finest.

New Raid Mode: Flexible
– Raid with a group of friends and guild mates regardless of server, and with any group size from 10 to 25, and the difficulty will automatically adjust to provide an appropriately challenging experience.

New Feature: Proving Grounds
– Undertake solo trials to practice or learn a new class role (Tank, Healer, or Damage). Each trial is available in multiple difficulties — Bronze through Gold and the challenging ‘Endless’ mode.

New Zone: The Timeless Isle
– Giant outdoor zone promoting open-world adventuring with tons of hidden treasures, giant creatures to defeat, five world bosses, a pet battle tournament, and much more!

Legendary Quest: Judgment of the Black Prince
– The epic conclusion to the Legendary quest line will see players rewarded with unique cloaks imbued with powerful new abilities.

New Feature: Connected Realms
– Lower population realms will be permanently and seamlessly “linked.” Players on the same Connected Realm will be able to trade, send and receive mail, join the same guilds, access a single Auction House, run the same Raids and Dungeons, and join other adventurers to complete quests.

PvP: Redesigned Arena System
– Arenas are no longer tied to specific Battlegroups, and players no longer need to create or join an Arena team to compete. Similar to the Rated Battleground system, players in a party of the appropriate size can queue.

The patch, which is available for testing on the Public Test Realms now, is detailed in full in a huge list of patch notes on the official site.