Blizzard Entertainment announced the new social features that are now available in the beta version of the Blizzard Battle.net desktop app. The one that is likely going to get the most attention is the ability to appear offline.
The Appear Offline feature allows you to set your status to show you as “offline” to your Battle friends while remaining connected to Battle.net. You can launch the app and game away without distraction. That being said, it’s not exactly a “cloak of invisibility”:
Appearing offline will show you as offline to everyone in your Blizzard friends list. Once you have joined a game, the experience of appearing offline might be slightly different depending on which game you are playing. In the case of World of Warcraft, your guildmates will see your character come online and enter WoW’s in-game chat channels, and anyone who has you as a character-level friend will see you online on their friends list. Everyone outside of the same game as you will not see you online or playing any games.
Based on that description, it looks like players won’t be able to use the Appear Offline feature to avoid dealing with guild drama. That feature also won’t help a player to avoid a guildmate who has made them uncomfortable or who has been harassing them.
Another new change allows a player to send a message to a friend who is offline (or appears to be offline). Players who are using the Appear Offline feature can send and receive messages in the app. Blizzard points out that this allows players to decide when they want to respond to those messages. This is a step in the right direction, but it would also enable a mean person to quietly harass someone.
In addition, the beta Battle.net desktop app has a new Social Tab for managing all your various social interactions. Blizzard Groups is a new way for you to connect with your friends and plan your next mission.
Players can create and join Groups based on their common interests. Each Group can have multiple text and voice chat channels, and Group administrators will have tools to manage memberships, invites, and more. To me, this sounds like Blizzard is competing with Skype, Discord, and other similar things people currently use to talk to their friends in-game.
Blizzard Entertainment is the creator of StarCraft II (and several other popular video games). They have teamed up with DeepMind, the world leader in artificial intelligence research and its application for positive impact. Together, the two will co-host the StarCraft II AI Workshop.
The workshop is an opportunity for AI researchers, academics, bot programmers, and industry professionals to get together, exchange ideas, and collaborate on all things AI, utilizing the recently-released StarCraft II Learning Environment and StarCraft II API as a development platform.
The event is described as BYOC, meaning that you need to bring your own computer. Attendees will be provided with power drops, dedicated wireless internet access, and a catered lunch. Engineers and researchers from Blizzard and DeepMind will meet with attendees and answer questions about SC2LE and SC2API.
Space is limited. Those who want to attend need to apply by filling out a questionnaire. A final group of attendees will be selected out of the applications. The workshop will take place November 3 and 4, 2017, at the Hilton Anaheim hotel. The workshop is not part of BlizzCon (which will be happening at the same time in the Anaheim Convention Center.)
The BlizzCon Virtual Ticket is available now in the Blizzard Shop in the Americans, Europe, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Pricing and availability varies by region. It is a good option for people who are unable to attend BlizzCon in person.
For starters, the Virtual Ticket unlocks live access to all the stages at BlizzCon 2017 – and in addition to the game updates, developer discussions, and community contests you’ve come to enjoy, you’ll also get access to events featuring community creators, voice actors, and more. Our new BlizzCon All Access channel will act as your guided tour through the event and around the show floor.
The BlizzCon 2017 Virtual Ticket includes:
- Developer and Community Events
- Costume and Talent Contests
- Closing Ceremony
- Exclusive Interviews
- Behind the Scenes & From the Floor
- Pre-show Video Series (weekly videos)
- Enhanced Esports Viewing
- Goody Bag Discount – Get $10 USD off this year’s BlizzCon Goody Bag (Supplies are limited.)
- In-Game Goodies – Unlock this year’s BlizzCon in-game items for World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, Diablo III and Heroes of the Storm.
Two in-game goodies are special mounts for World of Warcraft players. The Stormwind Skychaser is the mount for the Alliance, and the Orgrimmar Interceptor is the mount for the Horde. Those items are already available in-game for players who purchase the BlizzCon 2017 Virtual Ticket.
Blizzard Entertainment has a history of creating charity pets that World of Warcraft players can purchase. A percentage of the money raised by players who buy the charity pet goes to a specific charity. Players get a cute pet that can follow their character around in-game.
In the past, the percentage of money that went to a charity from the sale of a charity pet ranged from 50% to 100%. This year, Blizzard released the new charity pet – Shadow fox – early (before BlizzCon 2017 that takes place in November.) Their reason for the early release was because they wanted to act now to help those who were affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, or by the flooding in South Asia.
For every Shadow fox adopted between now and December 31, 2017, 100% of the $10 USD adoption fee will be donated to both American Red Cross Disaster Relief and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Disaster Relief Fund.
Blizzard points out that your donation will be split equally between the both organizations. Half will go to the American Red Cross to help people affected by disasters big and small in the U.S. The other half will go to the IFRC to help Red Cross Red Crescent Societies respond to disasters through their Disaster Relief Emergency Fund.
The Shadow fox pet has a color-changing coat with light and shadow effects. Sometimes the Shadow fox is yellow, and other times it is purple. As with other World of Warcraft pets, you purchase one and all of your World of Warcraft characters will be able to use it.
Blizzard Entertainment announced that it has opened Blizzard Arena Los Angeles. The Burbank, California venue was custom-designed and built with amenities to accommodate top esports competitors and their fans. High profile events for Hearthstone esports and Overwatch esports have already been scheduled.
The Blizzard Arena is intended to be the hot destination for premier esports competition. Multiple broadcasts and events can be run out of Blizzard Arena simultaneously because it has multiple sound stages, control rooms and player lounges throughout the facility. There will also be an on-site Blizzard store that will open during events and feature a rotating selection of gear and goods based on the event that is taking place.
The Overwatch Contenders Playoffs will run the weekend of October 7-8, 2017. This event will be the grand opening event of Blizzard Arena Los Angeles. The Summer Championship for the Hearthstone Championship Tour will take place on October 13, 2017.
The Overwatch League launches later this year, and Blizzard Arena Los Angeles will be the home for the inaugural season.
Blizzard Entertainment has released StarCraft: Remastered. It is described as “Blizzard Entertainment’s lovingly crafted upgrade of the real-time strategy classic and its legendary expansion “Brood War”. Blizzard announced StarCraft: Remastered in March, saying the game would be out “later this summer.” You can purchase StarCraft: Remastered for $14.99 USD.
Widely regarded as one of the most influential strategy games of all time, StarCraft and Brood War tell the story of the first interstellar war between three distinctive factions: the Earth-born terrans, psi-powered protoss, and hive minded zerg. StarCraft: Remastered lets players reexperience the saga of iconic characters like Jim Raynor, High Templar Tassadar, and Kerrigan, through upgraded 4K visuals, enhanced audio and music, and new illustrated story interludes.
StarCraft: Remastered provides players with an arsenal of new updates and features including:
- Full graphical upgrade of the original StarCraft and the StarCraft: Brood War expansion
- Widescreen UHD support for up to 4K resolution
- Matchmaking and leaderboards
- Player profiles that track individual statistics
- Cloud saving for campaign progress, hotkeys, and replays
- Improved high fidelity music and sound
- Ability to switch between Remastered and the original StarCraft with the click of a button
StarCraft: Remastered is available now for Windows and Mac PCs. It is available in English, Brazilian Portuguese, Latin American Spanish, French, German, European Spanish, Italian, Polish, Russian, Korean, Japanese, and simplified and traditional Chinese.
Twitch announced that they are collaborating with Blizzard Entertainment again to bring players a Legendary Loot Chest for Heroes of the Storm. This is not the first time the two companies have collaborated in this way.
In June, the offer was a Golden Loot Box for Overwatch for current and new Twitch Prime members. That offer is valid through August 20, 2017. In addition, there is another offer for Overwatch players who have Twitch Prime.
From August 10th – September 10th, Twitch Prime members will receive five Loot Boxes* for Overwatch. Then, in October, Twitch Prime members will receive five more Loot Boxes containing skins, emotes, highlight intros, and other in-game items to customize your heroes.
The asterisk leads to: Offer valid only in regions where Twitch Prime is available. Must own Overwatch to redeem. Loot Box does not include any seasonal event items. Content of Loot Box is random. Each Blizzard account may only redeem one code per promotional item.
At the time, Twitch stated that similar promotions would be coming in the months ahead for Heroes of the Storm players and for Hearthstone players. The Heroes of the Storm offer is valid right now. From August 17 to October 10, anyone who links their Amazon Prime account to their Twitch account will receive one Legendary Loot Chest that contains at least one Legendary item for Heroes of the Storm.
Players who are not currently a Twitch Prime member can sign up for a free Twitch Prime trial. Those who get Twitch Prime also get the benefits that come from Amazon Prime, including streaming movies and TV shows to ad-free viewing of your favorite Twitch streamers.
All Xbox Live Gold members can enjoy Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – The Ultimate Evil Edition for free as part of Xbox Live Gold Free Play Days. In order to take advantage of this offer, you must be an Xbox Live Gold member.
It’s being called a “Free Weekend”, but the offer actually lasts a total of 5 days. It started on Thursday, July 27, 2017, and will continue through Monday, July 31, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. PST.
Xbox Live Gold members on Xbox One markets will get a special opportunity to fight back against the hordes of evil. During this time you can also purchase Diablo III: Eternal Collection, the latest version of Diablo III that includes the new Necromancer class and all content from Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition, from the Xbox Store at 35% off to continue playing after Xbox Live Gold’s Free Play Days concludes.
If you give the game a try, and later decide to come back to it, your saved progress and earned achievements will remain. In other words, you won’t lose the progress you made.
The Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition contains both Diablo III and the Reaper of Souls expansion set, together in one volume. You can choose to play as a Crusader, Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter, Monk or Wizard. You can download Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition by clicking on the Gold Member area on the home dashboard or downloading directly from the Xbox Store.
Blizzard Entertainment has created a giveaway as a way of celebrating the Necromancer’s first Season. Someone will win everything they need to start from scratch with the brand new Necromancer class – and more!
When Diablo III first launched, it came with 5 different classes (each of which could be played as male or female characters). Those classes were: Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Witch Doctor, and Wizard. Later, the first (and potentially only) expansion to Diablo III was released. The Diablo III: Reaper of Souls expansion added one more class, the Crusader.
Blizzard introduced the Necromancer class into the game in a way they haven’t done before. If you want to play this new class, you have to purchase the Rise of the Necromancer Pack. It comes with two additional character slots (that you can fill with two brand new Necromancers), and other assorted cosmetic items. The Rise of the Necromancer pack costs $14.99 on the Blizzard Store.
Those who play Diablo III know that the game includes Seasons, where you can start a brand new character (or rebirth an existing one) and race to reach the top of the leaderboard. Season 11 just started, and it is the first Season after the Necromancer was added to the game.
Blizzard has a “Season of the Necromancer Giveaway” going on now. To enter, all you need to do is enter your name and Battle.net email on the giveaway’s website. You also must check a box stating that you have read the Official Rules & Regulations.
A total of 5 randomly selected qualified entrants will win:
1 Necromancer T-shirt
1 Diablo III Battle Chest
1 Rise of the Necromancer Pack game code
1 Diablo III Book of Cain Sketchbook
1 Signed copy of the Reaper of Souls Collector’s Edition
The deadline for entering this giveaway is July 26, 2017 at 11:59 PM PST.
Blizzard announced that they have updated the World of Warcraft profile site. It now contains a lot of information that wasn’t included in the previous version of the Profile site. The changes make it easier for players to quickly view specific information about each of their World of Warcraft characters.
The main character screen mirrors what players see in game, so the information you see about your character’s gear makes logical sense when switching from in-game to the Profile site. Players can view the enchants, transmog info, gems, enhancements, and stats of their gear at a glance.
The Profile page now shows the Achievements that each of your characters has earned. The Profile page dashboard shows how close you are to earning 100% on any area of Achievements. Those areas include: General, Quests, Exploration, Player vs. Player, Dungeons & Raids, Reputation, World Events, Pet Battles, Collections, Class Hall, Scenarios, Legacy, and Feats of Strength.
It is now possible to see your full pet collection on the Profile page. There is a section at the top of the page that shows the Pets that are currently in your Battle Pet Slots. The rest of the pets are in order by favorites, and then by level. You can also view your Mounts from the Profile page. They are listed in order of rarity.