Activision Blizzard CFO, Spencer Neumann Terminated

Activision Blizzard CFO, Spencer Neumann Terminated

What does this mean for Blizzard’s falling numbers?

On December 31, 2018, Activision Blizzard announced that Chief Financial Officer, Spencer Neumann had been placed on paid leave and intended to terminate his contract if he could not demonstrate why he should keep his job. Although Activision Blizzard says Neumann’s termination had nothing to do with falling declining share value, he was replaced with Activision Blizzard veteran Dennis Durkin.

Read More

Living Comic Book Legend, Stan Lee, Has Passed Away

Living Comic Book Legend, Stan Lee, Has Passed Away

On the morning of Novembr 12, 2018, Stan Lee passed away at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, a family representative told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 95.

Born December 28, 1922, Stan Lee was a real-life superhero, beginning his career in 1939. His revolutionary method of creation, dubbed “The Marvel Method” allowed Lee to transform the comicbook world with character depth that had yet to be seen.

Read More

Bungie's Destiny 2 is Free Until November 18

What’s better than free games? I can’t think of anything.

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the release of Destiny 2, Bungie and Activision Blizzard are allowing the free download of the complete Destiny 2 game. Players who already own the game will receive an in-game gift reward that will be available in December.

PC users will need to download the Blizzard launcher if they do not already have it. You an redeem your anniversary gift in the on the Battle.Net gift page.

For more information visit www.DestinyTheGame.com.

Blizzard's Tom Chilton is Working on Something HUGE!

Blizzard's Tom Chilton is Working on Something HUGE!

Tom Chilton headed Blizzard’s World of Warcraft for 13 years. For two years, he’s been leading a super secret project that is drastically different from anything Blizzard has ever done.

Speaking with GamesBeat, J. Allen Brack, Blizzard Entertainment’s new president, told Dean Takahashi that Chilton is working on a passion project. From the sounds of it, this project has been in the works for a very long time. “He and I started up a new project that was not something like Blizzard has ever done before.”

Read More

Comcast Customers Will Begin Having Their Mobile Data Throttled

We still don’t and won’t block, throttle or discriminate against lawful content. We’re still not creating fast lanes. We still don’t have plans to enter into so-called paid prioritization agreements.”
— Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson, June 2018, via PhillyMag

Less than one month after Comcast and other internet service providers proclaimed that they would not throttle customers' internet after net neutrality is dismantled, Comcast is.....wait for it....throttling customer's mobile internet usage. Again.

Comcast said, "the company will begin throttling all video streams to 480p resolution, which will become the default resolution for streaming video through cellular data." Customers streaming via WiFi, however, will not be affected. 

 

Comcast will roll out a package that will allow customers to pay for 720p resolution. Comcast's Xfinity Mobile customers using the Unlimited Data Plan can also look forward to being capped at 600kbps. Comcast, a huge proponent of dismantling net neutrality laws because he believed them to be "too restrictive" took less than one month to renege on his self-proclaimed "commitment to net neutrality."

So, how will Comcast rope customers into paying for 720p? They're going to allow current customers to continue to stream at 720p at no additional cost, then announce the price change and charge customers to continue to stream at the higher quality 720p.

Charter Communications also launched a mobile broadband service and will throttle videos to 480p while offering customers to a package for 720p. Ars Technica shows that both Comcast and Charter Communication have similar mobile broadband services and pricing. Both companies' unlimited plans are $45, capping data at 600kbps. For their limited plans, Comcast charges $12 for each gigabyte of usage while Charter charges $14 for each gigabyte.

CalMatters' Antoinette Siu reported that The State of California is looking to take on the FCC by reinstating a state net neutrality bill that was gutted in June but has since been renegotiated. Senator Scott Wiener of San Fransisco said, "We know that the federal government is not going to fix things in the foreseeable future.” Hopefully, more states will follow California's example and draft bills to instate net neutrality laws so that ISPs won't be able to take advantage of consumers.

Perhaps more people would have fought to preserve net neutrality if they knew just what net neutrality was and how losing it could affect their daily lives. At present, this will only affect mobile data users on Comcast's Xfinity and Charter Communications Mobile. But it's only a matter of time before a package for home services is impacted.

Are you surprised that ISPs are beginning to go back on their word? Let us know in the comments.
 

Finally! New Info About Blizzard's Classic WoW Development

"Wanna know how you can tell someone played during Vanilla? Don't worry, they'll tell you." Yes, we will tell you! 

After careful consideration, we have decided on Patch 1.12: Drums of War as our foundation because it represents the most complete version of the classic experience.
— Blizzard Developers

Blizzard developers have finally given us a little bit of info on what to expect with WoW: Classic. Classic will be centered on Drums of War, Patch 1.12.0 for a complete a "vanilla" experience. Drums of War was originally patched in August 2006 and was the last major patch before the release of The Burning Crusade expansion.

Drums of War was basically a PvP patch. It introduced Cross-Realm battlegrounds or Battlegroups. This was Blizzard's answer to players having to wait literal hours to get into a battleground because battlegrounds, once upon a time, were relegated to players from the same realm. Although the wait was shortened due to having new players to play with, this was a sad day for me because cross-realms effectively ruined inter-realm, PvP guild rivalries (wanna know how you can tell someone played during vanilla...I told you we'd tell you). Patch 1.12 also introduced World PvP, turning Silithus and Eastern Plaguelands into PvP zones where players would battle to control the land for their respective faction. For those of us who were born and raised on PvE realms, this was pretty exciting and gave us a bit of a taste of PvP-realm life.

Blizzard developers settled on Drums because it was the last patch before Vanilla became TBC. In my personal opinion, Blizzard should use June 2006's Patch 1.11.0: Shadow of the Necropolis as its base. Shadow of the Necropolis was the last time Classic felt like the classic WoW that so many Vanilla players reminisce about. Patch 1.11.0 introduced the last 40-man instance raid, Naxxaramas, the floating necropolis above Eastern Plagueland's Stratholme.

But the developers do have their hands full with this project. They're on a journey to "recreate an authentic classic experience with modern engineering" to deliver to players a beautiful classic experience

Our initial runs exposed a few (expected) issues: the game sometimes crashed, didn’t recognize our modern video cards, and was incompatible with our current login system. That first pass also couldn’t support any of our modern security and anti-cheating capabilities.
— Blizzard Developers

We're confident Blizzard devs will give us fans another glorious WoW experience. But for now, this is all we know. Do you think Patch 1.12.0 is the best starting point to deliver a Classic WoW experience? Will you be playing when it's finally released? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook.

 

RIP, Net Neutrality. But It's Not Over, Yet!

Net Neutrality Repeal Goes Into Effect Today

Cover illustration by Ammy Daroach.

While we're all excited about E3, the repeal of net neutrality goes into effect Monday June 11. Engadget's Mallory Locklear breaks down what happens next. While ISPs may not implement anything immediately, they now have the legal ability "leeway to block, throttle and prioritize websites and content." This would not be the first time ISPs have done this, which is why the Obama Administration reclassified internet service providers as Title II. 

Understanding Title II can be a bit tricky, which is why too many people are ignoring such an important policy.

What is Title II? 

Title II refers to services that carry goods to others. Think about the U.S. Postal Service, railroads and ferries. They carry mail and deliver on behalf of businesses and individuals. They transport (or carry) for the common people. It's where the term "common carrier"originated from. This also means that the service provider or carrier, must charge everyone the same price for the same service.

The internet, like mail carriers, has evolved into a service that carries common information and should be regulated as such. Just as mail services deliver packages on behalf of businesses and individuals, schools now deliver education online, people pay bills online, sign up for various services online, make reservations, and communicate with loved ones online. Reclassifying internet service providers to Title I services would mean that ISPs could prioritize which websites people can visit and for how much. 

Although net neutrality officially ends today, the battle is still pressing on. The House of Representatives is still preparing to vote to reinstate net neutrality. You can help by contacting your representatives--either tweet them or call them or both! Let them know where you stand.

Let us know in the comments where you stand and if you've talked to your representatives.

EU Countries Are Calling Loot Boxes a Form of Gambling And Developers Could Face Consequences

Developers of popular games such as PUBG, Overwatch, and Star Wars: Battlefront II could face fines or worse in the EU.

Loot boxes are essentially chests that contain items such as weapons, armor, accessories or vanity items like skins. These boxes can either be earned in-game through experience, currency or purchased offline with money. Players have no control over what is inside the box. There's a chance for items that will help game performance. Where the conflict comes in is loot boxes' game model being similar to gambling, which can make gambling accessible to youth. Countries like Germany, Belgium and Netherlands are considering taking action to prevent the pay-2-win, loot box gaming models because it violates their policies on gambling.

The University of Hamburg conducted research that found pay-2-win game models are very similar to gambling. The chairman of the Youth Protection Commission, Wolfgang Kreißig, said: "I think it is conceivable that Loot boxes could violate the ban on buying appeals to children and adolescents,"which violates the Youth Protection Act.

Belgium's De Standaard reports that the Belgian Gaming Commission is specifically investigating Overwatch, Star Wars: Battlefront II, FIFA 2018 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive for "evidence of illegal games of chance smuggled in the games." In order to for a game to be considered to be illegal, the game must meet four conditions: it has to be a game, with a certain commitment, that leads to a profit or loss for the player and where chance plays. Competent minister Koen Geens (CD & V) developers can be fined up to 800,000 euros and five years in prison if they don't remove loot boxes from games.

The Netherland's Dutch Gaming Authority investigated ten games and found 4 of the 10 games they reviewed found that "because the prizes to be won can be traded outside the game: the prices have economic value. It is forbidden to offer this type of games of chance to Dutch players without a license." The Dutch Gaming Authority is giving developers until June 20, 2018 to modify or eliminate their loot box models or face consequences, which include publicizing the names of the game developers, titles fines and or prohibition from sales in Netherlands. Popular titles that could be determined to violate the Dutch's Betting and Gambling Act include FIFA 2018, Dota2, PUBG and Rocket League.

Other nations around the world are also concerned. However, the Gambling Commission in Britain said "publishers of games must buy a gambling licence only if the contents of loot boxes can be converted back into money' according to The Economist.

Two Hawaiian State Representatives, Chris Lee and Sean Quinlan have also voiced concerns over loot boxes. In an interview with Rolling Stone's Glixel, Quinlan threatened to take action against developers who use loot boxes if they fail to "self police". And during a press conference, Lee said "This game is a Star Wars themed online casino designed to lure kids into spending money" about Star Wars: Battlefront II. "It's a trap."

The Entertainment Software Associate told Glixel in an interview:

Loot boxes are a voluntary feature in certain video games that provide players with another way to obtain virtual items that can be used to enhance their in-game experiences. They are not gambling. Depending on the game design, some loot boxes are earned and others can be purchased. In some games, they have elements that help a player progress through the video game. In others, they are optional features and are not required to progress or succeed in the game. In both cases, the gamer makes the decision.
— Entertainment Software Association

#Deadpool2's David Leitch to Direct Tom Clancy's The Division Movie

After losing director Stephan Gaghan, Ubisoft Motion Pictures snags David Leitch to helm The Division film.

David Leitch knows action. He was Brad Pitt's stunt double in Fight Club and Ocean's 11, did stunts in 19 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and was the action coordinator for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, just to name a few things from his action-packed past. He made his directorial debut on John Wick and directed the non-stop action packed Atomic Blonde

The Division will star Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain and taking place in a near future New York City that's been decimated by a pandemic virus spread through paper bills exchanged throughout the city during the U.S. favorite shopping holiday, Black Friday.

Released March 2106, Tom Clancy's The Division has surpassed 20 million players to date and a sequel, The Division 2, in the works. More details on The Division 2 will be announced at E3 2018.  The Division is available on all gaming platforms.

Do you play The Division? Do you think David Leitch can bring the magic of John Wick to The Division film?

#UniversalFanCon Postponed Just One Week From Event

The Baltimore event to celebrate fans from all walks of life has suddenly been postponed.

Universal FanCon, scheduled from April 27-29 has released a statement detailing its postponement until further notice. According to the statement, the postponement is due to budgetary deficit which would not allow them to carry out the event.

As we built out our floorplan, invited guests, figured out lodging/travel arrangements, and confirmed activities, our costs started to grow exponentially. Unfortunately, the support we were anticipating in terms of ticket sales and sponsorships did not materialize. Accordingly, the organizers of FanCon made significant personal investments in order to ensure FanCon’s success. In addition to these investments, we worked to scale back the number of guests and limit the convention space to create a leaner and more efficient show. Sadly, this was not enough. If we were to have moved forward, the event would have been significantly diminished.
— Universal FanCon

Many vendors, guests and attendees are tweeting about their non-refundable airfare, the hotels, missed opportunities and other expenses, including many attendees coming from overseas, like the awesome creator of Black Girl Gamers visiting from London.

But all is not completely lost. Many vendors are tweeting that they will still be available at the Baltimore Convention Center on those dates to network and more.

Black Girl Gamers is also planning on meeting up with others finding themselves inconvenienced by FanCon's cancellation. If you're one of those inconvenienced by the cancellation of FanCon, don't lose faith.