Activision Blizzard’s financial report details a very successful 2019

Activision

Every so often, something magical happens in the video game industry. Large publishers like Activision have to submit financial reports to their shareholders detailing how successful the year was. This matters because it’s usually the only time these AAA publishers are actually honest.

So, when I opened up Activision Blizzard’s report I was ready for some juicy information, but they didn’t have much to hide. The truth is Activision has had a great year and their latest financial report proves that.

Activision’s Financial Report

candy crush saga

The primary focus of the report was firmly placed on Modern Warfare. Whilst it’s likely Activision was confident it would do well; its numbers are seriously impressive. PC sales alone increased by 50% in comparison to Black Ops 4. Equally, Modern Warfare’s overall sales increased by a “double-digit percentage,” when compared to its predecessor. 

Meanwhile, Call of Duty Mobile managed to stack up 150 million installs worldwide. This helped it top download charts in over 150 countries and finish top 15 in grossing mobile titles. Speaking of Mobile, Activision’s acquisition of KING back in November 2015 has continued to pay dividends. As usual, Candy Crush Saga was the top-grossing title across all U.S app stores.

Blizzard’s Financial Report

world of warcraft

However, the Blizzard half of Activision-Blizzard had less to celebrate given their various PR mistakes. Regardless, there’s no doubting that the launch of World of Warcraft Classic did a great job of resurrecting a once declining MMORPG. Blizzard claims WoW’s player base over doubled thanks to the release of Classic.

Outside of WoW, the report touches upon Overwatch’s expansion to Switch and the latest Hearthstone expansion. Unfortunately for Blizzard, their newest release, Warcraft 3: Reforged, has gone down as yet another PR disaster. Perhaps if they hadn’t claimed all user content in the first place, this wouldn’t have happened.

If you want to read through the various financial details, be sure to check out the report yourself. There are listings for revenue, profits, taxation, and just about anything else an Activision shareholder would need to know.

Gamers Make Their Move Following USA’s Immigration Ban

Insomniac Games

Immigration Ban

Last January 27, President Donald Trump signed an executive order stating the ban of immigrants entering the United States from seven countries. As stated in the executive order, these countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. And now, there is a recent news that the order will be ‘streamlined’. This news shocked the world and urged the gaming community to take action. Players, developers, publishers – the whole gaming community joined hands and made their own statements regarding the immigration ban. Read on and hear the various opinions and views made by the developers and publishers we all support and love.

Unity

Immigration Ban: Unity

 

For those of you who’s been living in a rock for the past decade; Unity is a renowned gaming engine that powers various video games that you might have played. Here are some of those games: War Commander: Rogue Assault, Werewolves Within, I Expect You To Die, Superhot, Ori and the Blind Forestand – the game that reminds us all of the beauty of Shadow of the Colossus – Prey of the Gods.

Now that we got that out of the way; Unity’s CEO, John Riccitiello, sent an internal message to Unity’s employees expressing the effect of the immigration ban to the company’s core values. He also stated that Unity is willing to match the donations (up to $1000) that the employees donate. The donations will be given to reasonable charities/countries like ACLU. Unity is also willing to fly 50 developers from the list of countries impacted by the immigration ban to the upcoming Unite Amsterdam. Now that is awesome.

 

ESA

ESA

Alright, I’ll say it real quick: ESA is the one behind E3. Multiple AAA developers and publishers refer to ESA’s statement. Here, have a look at their statement:

“The Entertainment Software Association urges the White House to exercise caution with regard to vital immigration and foreign worker programs. As a leading force in technology and exporter of entertainment, the U.S. video game industry thrives on the contributions of innovators and storytellers from around the world. While recognizing that enhancing national security and protecting our country’s citizens are critical goals, our companies rely on the skilled talent of U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, and immigrants alike. Our nation’s actions and words should support their participation in the American economy.”

Insomniac Games

Insomniac Games

The developers of Ratchet & Clank and Sunset Overdrive made their stand publicly with a video. Insomniac’s founder and CEO Ted Price said, “We at Insomniac Games stand united in strongly opposing President Trump’s immigration ban. There’s no question that these orders will harm us as a company, and many of our team members”.

He also begged the question, “We ask, is this the American way? Is discriminating based on religion, faith, or national origin American? Absolutely not.”

Price also asks those who support Insomniac games to make a stand and let their voices be heard. If you want to watch the whole video, you may click here.

Microsoft

Microsoft

Of course, Microsoft! Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, posted a while back about an email that was sent to the company’s employees. In the email, Microsoft states that the company is willing to provide legal advice and assistance for their employees and for their families who are affected by the order.

Aside from a lot of employee support from the developers and publishers. Some companies showed their support in a different way. For example, Humble Bundle offered bundles of games for only $30. Some of the bundles include: The Witness, Stardew Valley, Super Meat Boy, The Stanley Parable, and a lot more.

These are just some of the statements that developers and publishers made in response to the recent immigration ban. How about you? What do you think of the executive order and how do you think does it affect the gaming industry? We like to hear your thoughts in the comments down below. Let’s talk.

 

World of Warcraft: The Nighthold Beckons

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

After an astounding Legion release, World of Warcraft’s subscriber numbers surged up to one of their highest peaks. The expansion itself was one of the greatest yet in the history of World of Warcraft, adding and recreating some of the most fun and interesting things to do on Azeroth. The addition of world quests, a class hall and the next ten levels of life in World of Warcraft give players, young and old, things to do in the game daily that revitalized the drive to log in and play. Six months after the expansion’s release, it’s time for the newest raid instance to come out: The Nighthold.

The Nighthold

The Nighthold
The Nighthold

The Nighthold is the third raid instance to be released in this expansion, and will currently reign as the longest raid with eight new bosses to kill and loot. This instance will be found in Suramar, home to the once-fading Nightborne. As you progress your character to unlock the new raid, you’ll give life back to this trapped and starving race of elves, and help them thrive in the new world on the Broken Isles. You find out that the terrible Gul’dan, a fel-powered Orc who’s bent on destroying all of Azeroth with the Legion, has taken up residence in The Nighthold. The once grand structure that it was, The Nighthold was a testament to the achievements of the Nightborne. It was created around the Nightwell, the source of power for the Nightborne and the only thing that kept the race alive when their world was crumbling around them. Gul’dan means to seize that power, and only you can stop him.

It’s Time To Raid

It's Time To Raid
It’s raid time.

Well, you and 19 of your closest friends. Like all WoW raids, you’ll need your friends and guild mates to help you take down the evil that’s within this fortress of the Nightborne. Not only will you have to fight Gul’dan and those that support him, but The Nighthold’s own defenses as well. Battle a giant scorpion named Scorpyron that guards the secret entrance you’re using to get inside. Once you dispatch him, you’ll be fighting entities of the very Nightwell itself, a being made of pure leyline energy and a construct that hasn’t had a good fight in many years. After you breach the defenses and creatures of the instance, you’re on to fight those that are drunk on the power of the Nightwell and the fel-energies of the Legion. You’ll even get to fight against well known demons like Tichondrius and Krosus, the giant colossus that you fought at the entrance of the Legion expansion. This fantastic run ends with Gul’dan himself, and he’s not going to go easily.

Why We Raid

Why We Raid
Spending time with our family.

Having a new raid is a fun and exciting way to get your entire World of Warcraft family together. After you’ve dominated a previous instance and all the loot you could ever need was acquired, it’s fairly usual that players would start to dwindle, interested in other games until something new comes along. That very moment is now, and the release of The Nighthold has brought the World of Warcraft family together once more. It’s an exciting time as you head into a new place that you’ve never been before, fighting giant bosses that you’ve never killed and winning loot that takes your character’s power to new heights. An expansion release is fun, engaging and helps you get to know who you are as a player, but as the year goes on, it’s the continual addition of new content, like raids, that have kept players engaged for all these years in World of Warcraft. As they celebrated their 12th Anniversary this past November, you know that Blizzard knows what they’re doing. Here’s to another 12 years of adventure, excitement and nerdy online family.

Overwatch: First Strike Comic Cancelled

Blizzard’s hit first-person shooter, Overwatch, has garnered plenty of praise for its world-building despite lacking a single-player campaign that fully explores said world.  As such, many fans have been eagerly anticipating the release of Overwatch: First Strike, a graphic novel published by Dark Horse Comics that would have explored the origins of the original Overwatch strike team and the beginning of the game’s universe.  It turns out that fans will have to wait a lot longer to see how it all began as the First Strike comic has officially been cancelled.

Michael Chu, the lead writer for the game, recently announced on the official Overwatch forums that graphic novel was cancelled just before the digital version of it was scheduled to release.  Chu stated that the reason for the comic’s cancellation comes down to it being planned out during the early days of the game’s development and that the plans for the game’s story has changed since then.  Essentially, it comes down to wanting to keep the narrative consistent and avoid potential plotholes that the now outdated graphic novel could create.  Blizzard still plans to release free animations and comic shorts as they have in the past to further explore the world of Overwatch, including the origins of Reaper, Soldier:76, Ana, Torbjörn, and Reinhardt as the First Strike novel would have.

If you’re curious about the lore of Overwatch, be sure to check out our beginner’s guide with all the information you need to know.  What are your thoughts on the cancellation of First Strike?  Do you regret the loss of this storyline?  Did Blizzard make the right call on this?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Yogg-Saron and More Hearthstone Cards are Being Nerfed

Blizzard announced another upcoming round of nerfs for several controversial Hearthstone cards.  The one archetype that will be taking the biggest hit is the Aggro Shaman build, easily the most controversial deck in the current meta, with Rockbiter Weapon and Tuskarr Totemic each taking a hit.  Rockbiter will have its mana cost raised from 1 to 2, while Tuskarr will only summon a totem from the Shaman’s hero power rather than any totem minion in the game.  Another common tool of aggression, Abusive Sergeant, will also be nerfed with his attack power reduced from 2 to 1.

Warrior will also be taking a couple of big hits.  Execute, the class’ top removal option, will have its cost raised from 1 to 2.  Charge, the linchpin of all of Warrior’s combo decks, is being seriously reworked.  It will no longer give a minion +2 attack and the minion it is used on will not be able to attack the enemy hero for that turn, but it will also have its cost reduced from 3 to 1 to compensate.

Finally, we have two of the most intimidating late-game cards falling under the nerf-hammer.  The powerful Hunter spell Call of the Wild will have its cost raised from 8 to 9.  The one card that has people’s attention the most is the legendary Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End.  Yogg has been infamous with competitive players as it can warp the course of any game by casting a variety of spells and potential kill either hero out of nowhere.  While the text on Yogg hasn’t made any apparent changes, the card has been nerfed as it will stop casting spells should it die in the middle of its own effect.  If you have any of these cards in your collection, hold off on disenchanting them until after the nerf hits as you’ll then get full dust refunds for them.  Blizzard hasn’t given an exact date for the nerfs, but they will come before the Last Call events in the Hearthstone Championship Tour.

What are your thoughts on the recent batch of nerfs for Hearthstone?  Which card are you going to miss playing with like you used to?  Which ones should Blizzard have in their crosshairs next?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Hearthstone Guide: Defeating The Crone

The opera house has plenty of unique new challenges for the One Night in Karazhan adventure with its grand finale being a battle with the Wizard of Oz homage, The Crone.  Much like the fight with Emperor Thaurissan in Blackrock Mountain, The Crone’s hero power can kill you in one shot and the only thing stopping it is the survival of a specific minion.  In this case, it’s Dorothee who will stand on your side of the board and offer buffs to your minions.  All minions to the left of Dorothee will gain charge and all to her right will gain taunt.  These effects will immediately make almost any deck incredibly powerful and this will be one of the easier bosses on normal difficulty.

One quick route to victory is to simply build a deck of all your best taunt minions, place them all to the left of Dorothee, and just go for the face.  Only trade when it’s absolutely necessary to protect Dorothee and be sure to have a range of minions rather than simply going for a zoo deck as that can leave you vulnerable to the Abominations that The Crone has.  Keep in mind that The Crone has plenty of buffs like Blessing of Kings and Power of the Wild, so be prepared for those types of bursts.  Also, remember to change your deck for the encounter to Wild as all cards are legal against the bosses.

On heroic difficulty, things get a lot trickier as The Crone not only has 50 health, but is also putting you on an eight-turn timer.  On turn eight, The Crone is guaranteed to draw Twisting Nether and will use it for a  guaranteed kill on Dorothee and, by extension, you.  I played several matches to test it and she topdecked the card every time without fail.  It’s possible to buy yourself an extra turn with Loatheb or Counterspell, but the fact remains that you need to be able to bring The Crone down fast.

One of your best bets for bringing down the wicked witch is to build a Warlock deck with a focus on strong stat lines for low costs.  Cards like Duskboar and Ancient Watcher are generally what you’re going to want to focus on.  What makes Warlock particularly potent is that it has minions like Flame Imp, Wrathguard, and Pit Lord that trade your health for powerful stats.  Since the crone is going to focus exclusively on attacking Dorothee, so your own health is irrelevant.  Warlock also has plenty of sticky minions like Imp Master and Possessed Villager that provide plenty of protection.

Another potent tactic is to play Priest and cast Inner Fire on Dorothee.  You’ll still need plenty of minions with strong stats to keep her safe, such as the neutral ones mentioned earlier.  You’ll also want card draw as your strategy will be built entirely around this one spell and you’ll struggle without it.  However, you do have unlimited attempts at the boss, so just keep trying until you get lucky.

Hearthstone Screenshot 08-18-16 20.49.29

There are all the tactics you’ll need to turn The Crone into a green puddle.  Maybe you’ll catch her in a charitable mood and she’ll spend her buffs on your minions.  Seriously, the above image is just one of three separate occasions where she just gave me the match for no real reason.  Hearthstone A.I. is just the best.

Controversial Hearthstone Card Not Appearing in Arena

One of the new cards being added to Hearthstone with the upcoming One Night in Karazhan expansion has been creating a negative stir.  Purify is a new card for the Priest class, which is currently the weakest class in the game, and has received a great deal of criticism from several noteworthy players for possibly being the worst card to have been introduced to the game yet.

Most notably, Kripparrian posted an extensive rant against the card on his Youtube channel that mainly focused on how the card will effect the Arena game mode. Arena has players drafting a deck of random cards and seeing how far they can go playing against people working under the same conditions, so introducing a bad card is always going to have an impact in that mode.  However, the development team has issued a surprising statement in regards to Purify and how they are responding to the criticism.

Ben Brode, the lead designer on Hearthstone and the face of the game, released a Designer Insights video on the official Hearthstone Youtube channel speaking specifically on Purify.  He explains that the design team’s thought process on designing the card was to support the niche archetype of Silence Priest that, while not a competitive-level deck, still has viable strategies and can take people by surprise.

However, they do understand the importance of Arena balance and have been working on a new algorithm for the frequency of specific cards that appear in Arena in order to even out the various classes.  While this isn’t expected to be ready any time soon, the developers are taking action to prevent Purify from skewing Arena balance by keeping it out of the game mode entirely.  This isn’t the first time that a card has been made undraftable in Arena as all of the C’Thun-based cards introduced in Whispers of the Old Gods were given the same treatment.

Brode closes his video with the following statement: “We’re going to disagree sometimes on decisions that we make, and we’re going to make mistakes, too, but hopefully we can learn together and make the game better overtime.”  What are your thoughts on Brode’s feedback to the community?  What do you feel still needs to be done to sort out Arena balance?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Hearthstone: One Night in Karazhan Cards Preview #2

Hearthstone

Things weren’t off to the best start with some of the first cards we saw being added with One Night in Karazhan, but the full list is now available and we can make some definitive statements on what we can expect in Hearthstone‘s near future. Hearthstone Let’s see if this update saved its best for last and how it will shape the game.

The developers are really pushing for Discard Warlock to be an archetype and this one card could be what makes it a reality.  The biggest drawback to discarding has always been that, even with a hero power that draws cards, it quickly drains your resources and you simply can’t regain momentum.

MalchezaarsImp

Malchezaar’s Imp allows you to maintain momentum even while discarding several cards and has a strong stat line to keep it alive long enough for a considerable effect.  The one caveat is that the deck would have to be aggressive in nature if you’re discarding that many cards as you can’t risk losing anything too valuable.

VioletIllusionist

Given how powerful aggro decks have been for so long, I welcome something like Violet Illusionist into the game with open arms.  Granted, she won’t be enough to counter aggressive decks on the same level as Antique Healbot on her own, but she’ll offer more survivability across the board without being overpowered.

Zoobot

Hey, neutral beast-synergy that isn’t junk.  It also works with dragons and murlocs, but only one for each.  It’s a bit of a strange concept, but you really only need it to hit one of your minions for this to be good.  Even if you have to play it on it’s own, it still has a decent stat line on its own.  It’s less so now that 3/4 minions are becoming more and more common, but it still looks like a decent card.  It’s just strange to think of where it will find its place in constructed with how sporadic its effect is, but just remember that you don’t always have to get maximum value out of card for it to be good.

MedivhGuardian

The final prize at the adventure’s end, Medivh, is interesting for a couple reasons.  For one, it shows that characters who are already playable heroes can also be cards, which could have some interesting results in the future.  Second, he gives you a neutral weapon that spends its durability whenever you cast a spell to summon a random minion matching the spell’s cost.  We’ve already seen this effect with Summoning Stone, but the Atiesh weapon has greater potential as your opponent won’t have an easy way of removing it.  Cards like Acidic Swamp Ooze can counter it, but it’s not something that is going to drive cards like that up in the meta on its own.  The high cost and unpredictability will probably make Medivh too niche for most competitive decks, but he will definitely find his place in certain control decks.

Purify

♫The rich get richer♫

♫And the poor get poorer♫

♫And Ben Brode lauuughs at your pain♫

I certainly hope that the bosses in this next adventure are at least fun, because One Night in Karazhan is undoubtedly the weakest Hearthstone expansion in terms of a meta shift.  Between Firelands Portal making Mage stronger and Purify making Priest weaker, this expansion is not only maintaining the status quo, but actively cementing it.  There are a few new archetypes that can emerge from some of the new cards, but most of it merely supplements what is already dominant in the game.  All signs point to Medivh throwing a lame party and I already feel like I have a remorseful hangover.

What are your thoughts on One Night in Karazhan?  Do you have more optimism for what it can offer Hearthstone than I do?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Hearthstone: One Night In Karazhan Cards Preview #1

One Night in Karazhan is bringing some of the most fondly-remembered boss fights from World of Warcraft into Hearthstone and, while they’re always fun challenge, it’s the cards they award that make a lasting impact on the game.  While adventures introduce significantly less cards than card packs, just one or two especially good cards can turn the entire game on its head (e.g. Undertaker, Grim Patron, Tunnel Trogg).

Let’s go over some of the new cards that have been revealed and see where the game may be going with this update.  Be sure to also check out the announcement article which briefly discusses three more new cards that won’t be examined here.

Firelands_Portal

One of the themes for new cards being introduced with this expansion are the portals.  There will be five different portal cards, each for a different class and each with a different effect, and the Firelands Portal will be the first one you get as one of three cards rewarded from the free prologue mission.  For constructed play, this portal probably won’t see play as a simple Fireball is much more reliable in most situations.

In Arena, however, this takes Mage from being incredibly strong to outright broken.  Having strong removal and a strong summon combined into a single card is incredibly powerful in Arena’s playstyle, even for 7 mana, and the fact that this is a common card is bound to make Arena Mage’s almost impossible to beat.  It wouldn’t be so bad if it had just been made a Rare card, and Arena is the only place where rarity of adventure cards has any impact.  It’s just another friendly reminder that the Hearthstone developers don’t play their own game.

Moroes

To play Moroes, you’re first going to need a meta-shift where everyone stops playing board control cards.  Once people stop putting cards like Flamestrike, Ravaging Ghoul, Lightning Storm, Explosive Trap, and Consecration, then Moroes can finally find a spot in your deck as a worse Imp Master.  Granted, there are cards like Steward of Darkshire and Hobgoblin (at least in Wild) that Moroes can synergize with and we may get another card along the same lines in this expansion, but there’s no chance Moroes will ever see competitive-level play.

Protect_the_King

This is an interesting inclusion, although its viability is a tough call.  It’s essentially a defensive version of Unleash the Hounds and that could be a potent play.  It’s a card that demands your opponent’s attention and could turn the pace of the game in your favor.  However, it’s highly vulnerable to AoE effects like the ones I mentioned under Moroes and that alone could render it unplayable.  It’s usefulness is going to rely heavily on the current meta, but it should be able to find its niche.  It should at least be a handy Arena card with how much room it gives you to turn the tide.

Prince_Malchezaar

This is easily the coolest new card being added to the game and the best part is that he’s free to everyone with the prologue mission.  That’s very important as his biggest benefit is that he’ll allow new players and those playing on a budget to play around with legendaries they haven’t collected yet.  He’s also a neutral demon with a lot of viability, so we may actually see Sacrificial Pact enter the meta.  Finally, he has a new type of effect that automatically triggers at the start of the game just from having him in your deck.  That’s a fascinating ability and there’s plenty of potential for more cards that work along the same line.

Pompous_Thespian

Hey, have you heard of this new game called Chronicle: Runescape Legends?  It’s a really cool digital card game with great production values and a unique premise.  Instead of summoning monsters to fight for you, you battle your own creatures and create your own mini-adventure with the goal of growing stronger than your opponent for a final battle at the end.  It’s free-to-play and you can check it out for yourself here.  Maybe it will have the decency not to sell playable versions of underpowered cards.

Okay, so One Night in Karazhan isn’t exactly getting off on the right foot with some of it’s early reveals, but there are some really good cards mixed in.  Sadly, aside from a couple of really cool legendaries, this is looking to be the weakest adventure yet in terms of meta-shift.  There are still plenty more cards left to reveal and we may see something grand emerge down the line, but I’ve never wanted to switch to a different card game more than after seeing some of the terribly designed cards featured above.  At least the boss fights should be fun.

What are your thoughts on One Night in Karazhan?  Which of the new cards is your favorite?  Which one most needs to be thrown on a bonfire?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

New Hearthstone Adventure, One Night in Karazhan, Revealed

During a special event held at ChinaJoy expo and streamed through the official Hearthstone Twitch channel, Blizzard revealed the next expansion for their popular digital card game.  The new expansion, One Night in Karazhan, will be an adventure based around the home of the Guardian Medivh back in its glory days.  Medivh is setting up for the greatest party in the history of Azeroth and he’s going to need help getting the place in order before the festivities begin.

Like previous adventures, it will have players take on a number of single-player boss battles to win new cards for their collections.  The journey will be spread across four wings with three bosses each.  The first step is the dining hall where you’ll have to take on a golem made of dinnerware and play a Hearthstone-version of chess.  Next is the opera house with plays based on Romeo & Juliet, The Big Bad Wolf, and The Wizard of Oz.  The menagerie comes third with a stampede of beasts running wild and fiends like the satyr Terestian Illhoof leading the charge.  Your final stop is Medivh’s private quarters where mythical opponents like the dragon Netherspite and the terrifying Shade of Aran will put you to the ultimate test.  Before any of that, however, all players will be given a single, free prologue mission the will award them with two new cards.

New cards that have been revealed for the expansion include the Ivory Knight, a Paladin minion that discovers a spell, Kindly Grandmother, a Hunter minion that summons the Big Bad Wolf upon death, and the legendary Curator that draws a beast, dragon, and murloc from your deck.  More cards will be revealed over time as we draw closer to release.

One Night in Karazhan is set to release its first wing on August 11th.  Are you looking forward to this funky interpretation of the famous tower?  What new decks are you planning to build with these new cards?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.