Category Archives: Gaming

Pokémon GO Water Festival is in Progress



Niantic announced that the Global Water Festival is happening now in Pokémon GO. It began on March 22, 2017, and will end on March 29, 2017. In celebration of the Global Water Festival, Niantic is allowing players to get a free Magikarp Hat for their avatar.

During the Global Water Festival players will be more likely to encounter Magikarp, Squirtle, Totodile, and their Evolutions all around the world. Players that explore areas where Water-type Pokémon more commonly appear will have a greater chance to encounter several of the Water-type Pokémon originally discovered in the Johto region. Niantic coyly suggests that players might possibly run into Lapras.

Some players might not be too exited about encountering lots of Magikarps. They don’t do much of anything at all except flop around, and it takes a lot of candy to evolve them. To make the game more exciting, Niantic has added Shiny Magikarp into the wild. They are extremely rare. If you happen to catch one, Niantic would like you to share a screenshot of it on social media and use #PokemonGo.


Blizzard Wants Overwatch Players to Stop Farming EXP While AFK



Blizzard has enacted the first of a series of measures designed to dissuade Overwatch players from gaining experience (EXP) while they are away from their computer’s keyboard (AFK). This problem is happening in Custom Games, and Blizzard has enacted the first of their escalation plan in order to dissuade players from doing that. If the behavior continues, more of the escalation plan will be put into place.

Game Director Jeff Kaplan explained things in a Forum Post in the Overwatch Forums on Battle.net. He makes it clear that the purpose of introducing the Game Browser and Custom Game features was to enable players to experience Overwatch in unique and different ways. They were aware the features could be exploited, and created an internal escalation plan – just in case players abused the features. From the Forum post:

…It’s very disappointing to us that players abused the system to gain experience while inactive. As some of you have noticed, Skirmish in Custom Game no longer rewards experience. Also, the AFK timer is now in place in Skirmish mode (in Custom Game only). This change is rolling out over a 24 hour period and should be live in all regions by the end of today.

Jeff Kaplan also took the time to make it abundantly clear that there is no moral ambiguity about gaining EXP while AFK in a Custom Game.

I’ve seen some discussion in the community and in the press on this topic and sometimes it gets talked about as if this is a grey area. Is this wrong or is this ok? Well, let me take a grey area and make it starkly black and white for you. Abusing and exploiting Custom Game or any other game mode to earn experience in Overwatch while inactive is NOT ok. The reason I want to be absolutely clear about this is in part because we are going to start to take disciplinary action against people who partake in these activities.

He goes on to clarify behaviors that will get your account banned:

  • If you create a Custom game that in any way encourages players to gain experience while inactive, you risk having your account banned.
  • If you join any game mode – including Custom Games – with the intent of gaining experience while being inactive, you risk having your account banned.
  • Do not name your Custom Game that in any way even implies that gaining experience while inactive is OK – not even as a joke – because doing so puts you at risk of having your account banned.

If this behavior doesn’t stop, more of the internal escalation plan will be enacted – until it reaches the final part that involves turning off the ability to gain experience in a Custom game. Players who don’t want to see the Custom Game feature limited further are asked to help Blizzard by reporting players who get into a game, and then go AFK, for the purpose of gaining EXP.


Don’t Use Your Joy-Con Near Your Aquarium



An unexpected thing is happening with at least some of the Joy-Con controllers. Nintendo Switch players noticed that when the controllers are used wirelessly, they malfunction in ways that are not conducive to game play. One possible cause is that the player put the Nintendo Switch too close to their aquarium.

Some people have noticed that when they use their Joy-Con controllers wirelessly – the characters in the game seem to move on their own (or the characters don’t respond at all). Others have had problems with Joy-Con responding intermittently, or losing connection with the Nintendo Switch console.

Nintendo released an article about Joy-Con not responding, or responding incorrectly, when used wirelessly. It starts by troubleshooting the typical issues.

Check if your console has the latest updates. Make sure the Joy-Con controllers are charged. Try and decrease the distance between the Joy-Con and the Nintendo Switch console. (In other words – sit closer to it).

If that doesn’t fix the problem, it is possible your Joy-Con is getting interference from something else in your home. Nintendo says it is best if the Nintendo Switch console is placed out in the open.

Make sure the Nintendo Switch is not:

  • Behind a TV
  • Near an aquarium
  • Placed in or under a metal object
  • Pressed against a large amount of wires and cords
  • Within three to four feet of another wireless device, such as a wireless speaker or wireless access point.

In addition, Nintendo suggests you check for the following sources of interference and turn them off:

  • Laptops, tablets, etc.
  • Wireless headsets
  • Wireless printers
  • Microwaves
  • Wireless speakers
  • Cordless phones
  • USB 3.0 compatible devices such as hard drives, thumb drives, LAN adapters, etc.

According to Nintendo, in most cases it will be enough to move the devices on the list three to four feet away from the Nintendo Switch console and/or Joy-Con controllers. If that doesn’t work for you, Nintendo suggests you power those devices off when you want to use the Nintendo Switch.


Blizzard Takes Action Against Real-Money Raid Clears



Blizzard Entertainment does not want World of Warcraft players to require other players to give them real-world currency in exchange for assistance with a dungeon or raid. Doing so breaks the World of Warcraft Terms of Use – and Blizzard has taken action against players that were doing this.

To be clear, it is perfectly acceptable for one player to help another player to get through a part of the game. People join guilds for the purpose of having lots of other players that they can do raids or dungeons with. Any player, running through Azeroth, who wants to randomly heal a player in need, is perfectly welcome to do that.

All of that is fine. World of Warcraft is the type of game that works best with a helpful community of players. Parts of the game require players to get a group together because some of the content is impossible to complete without help.

Asking another player to pay you real-word currency for that help, however, is not okay. In a Forum Post Community Manager Ornyx stated the following:

We’ve recently taken action against a number of accounts that were actively participating in and/or advertising the sale of in-game raid or dungeon clears in exchange for real-world currency. Such behavior is a clear violation of the World of Warcraft Terms of Use.

Ornyx continued to point out that many of the people who were doing that were members of top raiding guilds. Ornyx also made it clear that the players Blizzard took action against “had illustrated full knowledge and intent to violate the Terms of Use”. The Forum Post doesn’t include information about what specific action was taken against those players.

Doing a “gold run” – where a player offers to help another player through content in exchange for a certain amount of in-game gold – is perfectly acceptable. Ornyx states that it is fine to sell assistance with obtaining items, achievements, PVP rating, or other in-game benefits in exchange for in-game gold.

Blizzard wants players to report people who are advertising that they will help another player in exchange for real-world money. The Forum Post lists some common warning signs:

  • A “broker” is offering to match buyers with service-providers. Commonly, a broker will collect real-word currency from a buyer while offering gold to a guild or group that will actually provide the service.
  • Someone offering a service is unwilling to discuss terms of payment via in-game tells, and insists on using a non-Blizzard application to communicate.

In short – helping another player get through content in World of Warcraft is absolutely ok to do. Offering to help a player get through content in exchange for in-game gold is fine. Offering to help another player get through content in exchange for real-world currency breaks the World of Warcraft Terms of Use and will result in action taken against you.


Blizzard is Ending Support for Windows XP and Windows Vista



Blizzard Entertainment announced on a World of Warcraft Forum post that they will be ending support for two operating systems. Those systems are Windows XP and Windows Vista. If you are still using one of those operating systems, you are going to need to upgrade if you want to keep playing Blizzard’s games.

The Forum post was posted by Community Manager Ornyx said:

Starting later this year, we will begin the process of ending support for Windows XP and Windows Vista in World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm. Microsoft ceased mainstream support for these versions of Windows in 2009 and 2012, respectively, but since a decent portion of our audience was still using them at the time, we continued supporting them. However, there have been three major Windows releases since Vista, and at this point, the vast majority of our audience has upgraded to one of the newer versions.

Community Manager Ornyx points out that when Blizzard ends support for Windows XP and Windows Vista, their games will not run on them anymore. Players who are still using either one of those older operating systems should upgrade to a newer version.

Blizzard is going to roll out this change on a staggered schedule, which should give players who are currently using Windows Vista or Windows XP time to upgrade their OS. Additional notices about this change will be posted as Blizzard gets closer to making that change for each of their games.

Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows XP on April 14, 2009 (with extended support ended on April 8, 2014). Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows Vista Service Pack 2, on April 10, 2012. Extended support for Windows Vista Service Pack 2 will end on April 11, 2017.


Play Heroes of the Storm and Get a World of Warcraft Mount



Blizzard Entertainment announced that the Primal Flamesaber Mount is now available. It is a mount that can only be used in World of Warcraft. In order to get this new mount, a player must play Heroes of the Storm (another one of Blizzard’s games).

Mounts are very useful in World of Warcraft because they can help your character get from one place to another very quickly. It is possible for players to earn several mounts just by playing World of Warcraft. Other mounts can be purchased from the Blizzard Store. Once in a while, Blizzard offers a World of Warcraft mount that players cannot get unless they play a different Blizzard game.

Such is the case with the Primal Flamesaber mount.  To get this mount, players need to leave Azeroth and venture into the Nexus. Play 15 Heroes of the Storm matches with a friend from your Battle.net friends list between now and March 13, 2017. Both you, and your friend, have to play Heroes that originated in World of Warcraft.

In addition, players who complete that goal will also get a Judgment Charger mount, and a 10-day Stimpack, that they can use in Heroes of the Storm.

This offer is great for players who already play both of those Blizzard games and who have at least one friend on their Battle.net friends list who plays Heroes of the Storm.

This is not the first time that Blizzard has offered a special mount to World of Warcraft players who spend some time playing one of Blizzard’s other games. In 2014, players who won three games in Hearthstone earned themselves a Hearthsteed to use in World of Warcraft.


Over 80 More Pokémon are Coming to Pokémon GO



Pokemon Go logoThose of you who have been getting bored with Pokémon GO might want to give it another try. Niantic, creator of Pokémon GO, announced that they are adding new features and over 80 more Pokémon to the game.

Starting later this week, players will have the opportunity to catch more than 80 Pokémon that are brand new to Pokémon GO. These new Pokémon are ones that were originally discovered in the Johto region in the Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver games. In addition, Niantic will start rolling out Pokémon with gender-specific variations.

There will also be more opportunities to evolve your Pokémon in Pokémon GO. Some Pokémon that were originally discovered in the Kanto region will soon evolve into Pokémon that inhabit the Johto region. PokéStops will now offer new Evolution items that players will need to use in order to evolve some Pokémon.

Players may notice changes to the behavior of the Pokémon they see in the wild. Some may react in new ways as you try to catch them. Another new change allows players to easily select Berries and Poké Balls right from the encounter screen.

PokéStops will start offering two new kinds of Berries. Give a Nanab Berry to a Pokémon – and it will slow the Pokémon’s movements (making it easier for you to catch it.) Give a Pinap Berry to a Pokémon. If you successfully catch that Pokémon on your next attempt – you will get double the Candy.


Valve will Replace Greenlight with Steam Direct



Valve announced that they will replace Steam Greenlight with Steam Direct. The reason for the change is to better serve their goal of making customers happy. Steam decided it needed to move away from a small group of people at Valve trying to predict which games would appeal to different groups of customers.

Steam Greenlight was launched because Valve felt it was a useful stepping stone for moving to a more direct distribution system. Greenlight is a community-focused program that uses a voting system to determine which games are published on Steam. Games that got enough community support are “greenlit”.

Valve is replacing Greenlight with a new direct sign-up system for developers to put their games on Steam. It is called Steam Direct.

This new path, which we’re calling “Steam Direct”, is targeted for Spring 2017 and will replace Steam Greenlight. We will ask new developers to complete a set of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents similar to the process of applying for a bank account. Once set up, developers will pay a recoupable application fee for each new title they wish to distribute, which is intended to decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.”

At the moment, Valve is still debating what that application fee should be. They talked to several developers and studios about an appropriate fee, and they got a range of responses from $100 to $5,000. Valve wants more feedback before it settles on what the fee will be.

The existence of a fee might dissuade people from trying to get low-quality games onto Steam. That being said, if the fee is too high, it might make it difficult or impossible for small companies, or independent game creators, from being able to afford to get their game on Steam.


Pokémon GO has a Valentine’s Day Event



Niantic, creator of Pokémon GO, has started a limited-time celebration of Valentine’s Day.  It started on February 8, 2017, and will continue through 11:00 A.M. PST on February 15, 2017. Now is a good time to catch some Pokémon that you probably haven’t seen very often.

The featured Pokémon for the Valentine’s Day event are pink. Niantic officially says that players will notice more Chansey, Clefable, and many other adorable pink Pokémon that you can encounter in the wild more frequently than you usually would.

Personally, I’ve also seen a lot more JigglyPuffs and Exeggcutes that I would have expected. I also caught a Slowpoke and a Lickitung. All of them are very pink.

In addition, Cleffa, Igglybuff, and Smoochum will be more likely to hatch from Eggs. Lure modules will last for six hours during the Valentine’s Day event – which is extraordinary considering that lure modules typically last for 30 minutes. Buddy Pokémon will find Candy twice as fast while the Valentine’s Day event is going on.


The WoW Token Can Now be Exchanged for Battle.net Balance



Blizzard Entertainment created the WoW Token in 2015. In my opinion, the purpose was to give players a safe and secure way to buy in-game gold directly from Blizzard (and not from a disreputable gold seller). Today, Blizzard Entertainment expanded the potential uses for a WoW Token. Players can now exchange a WoW Token for Battle.net Balance.

Previously, the WoW Token had two purposes. A player who wanted to buy in-game gold could log in to World of Warcraft and spend real world currency on a WoW Token. After buying one, that player would put the WoW Token onto the World of Warcraft in-game Auction House. The player would get a quote that confirmed how much gold they would receive whenever their WoW Token sold.

Another player, who wanted to buy game-time, but did not have the real world currency to spend on it, could use their in-game gold to buy a WoW Token from the World of Warcraft in-game Auction House. That player would spend their in-game gold and use the WoW Token to pay for a month of game-time.

Today, Blizzard Entertainment has added a new option. World of Warcraft players who want to add to their Battle.net account can visit the World of Warcraft in-game Auction House, buy a WoW Token, and choose to redeem it for Battle.net Balance. In short, this gives players a new way to add to their Battle.net Balance without having to use real world currency.

The cool thing is that a player can spend the money in their Battle.net Balance on World of Warcraft Pets and Mounts. Or, they can spend it on items from other Blizzard Entertainment games like Overwatch or Heroes of the Storm. This gives more options to World of Warcraft players who also play other Blizzard Entertainment games.