Blizzard Auctioning WoW Server Blades for Charity

Blizzard has announced an awesome charity auction that will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Starting October 17, 2011 gamers will get a chance to win retired World of Warcraft server blades. The server blades were done up commemorative style and signed by members of the WoW team in order to make them some of the coolest pieces of videogame-nerd art the world has ever seen. Here’s a clip from the press release:

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced a series of special charity auctions featuring server-blade hardware that was originally used during the early days of the company’s award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game, World of Warcraft. Game enthusiasts around the world will get a unique chance to own a piece of World of Warcraft history — original HP BladeSystem servers that once housed hundreds of different realms across North America and Europe. The net proceeds from the auction will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, one of the world’s premier centers for the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases.

In total, approximately 2,000 of the original server blades from about 500 different World of Warcraft realms will be auctioned. The server blades will each be contained in a custom windowed case featuring the World of Warcraft logo and offering a view of the computer hardware inside. They will also come with a commemorative plaque signed by the World of Warcraft team, making each one a true collector’s item.

This auction rules on so many levels. I love that Blizzard is hosting an auction for a great charity. It gives me warm fuzzies and makes me proud to be a Blizzard gamer. On a purely superficial level, I can’t get over how cool these server blades are. If I win the lottery tomorrow then I’ll bid on all of them. I will make a geek wall of awesomeness that’s full of retired WoW server blades. It’ll be awesome!

For more info on the charity auction, go here.

Foo Fighters Closing Out Blizzcon 2011

Blizzard has announced that the Foo Fighters will be the musical guests at Blizzcon 2012. The all-things-Blizzard fan-festival usually ends with a star-studded performance. Past guests include Ozzy Osbourne, Tenacious D, Jay Mohr, and Level 10 60 70 80Elite Tauren Chieftain. Here’s a clip from the…

Blizzard has announced that the Foo Fighters will be the musical guests at Blizzcon 2012. The all-things-Blizzard fan-festival usually ends with a star-studded performance. Past guests include Ozzy Osbourne, Tenacious D, Jay Mohr, and Level 10 60 70 80Elite Tauren Chieftain. Here’s a clip from the official press release:

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced that Foo Fighters will headline the closing concert of this year’s sold-out BlizzCon, taking place October 21-22 at the Anaheim Convention Center. While tickets to the convention are currently sold out, viewers can watch at home by ordering a BlizzCon Virtual Ticket, offering comprehensive live coverage of the event (including Foo Fighters’ performance) globally over the Internet and also on DirecTV in the United States.

One of my favorite shows of the year gets even better! I love Blizzcon. Blizzard is an incredible developer and publisher. The company has some of most passionate fans in the world. It’s brilliant watching thousands of people come together to celebrate Blizzard’s excellent games. Add the Foo Fighters on top of all that?!? Awesome!

Any of you making it out to Blizzcon this year? Are you psyched to watch Foo Fighters perform at Blizzcon whether you’re there or watching on DirecTV?

Star Wars: The Old Republic Launching on December 20, 2011

BioWare and LucasArts have announced that the highly-anticipated MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic will arrive on December 20, 2011. The launch date is fascinating. Major game releases typically stop in early December. A lot of my industry friends are thinking, “Sorry family. I’m abandoning you this Christmas.” Others are surprised that the game is coming out for the holidays, simply because MMOs are typically “me” purchases and not gifts.

I think it’s a brilliant time to launch an MMO. A lot of people have time off at the end of December and the beginning of January. That’s the perfect time to create SWTOR addicts! I can see lots of people giving the game a shot while they’re off from work or school. They’ll return to the office or the classroom and dream about their SWTOR life all day.

Of course I could be wrong. The pull of family and friends might be too much for the Force. What do you think about the unusual launch date of Star Wars: The Old Republic? Is it a great time to create subscribers? Or will the game lose out to Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa joy?

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DC Universe Online Moving to Free-to-Play Model

Sony Online Entertainment has announced that DC Universe Online will be switching to a free-to-play model featuring three tiers. Between the attractiveness of being “freemium” and the popularity of DC Comics’ “The New 52“, the game stands to catch another wave of success. Here are some more details from executive director of development Lorin Jameson via PlayStation Blog:

  • Free Access – Just like it sounds. Download and play the game for free. You also get all ongoing game updates (except DLC packs).
  • Premium Access – This next level of access opens up to you if you spend at least $5 in the in-game store. Premium Access grants you additional benefits that improve your experience in the game, such as more inventory slots, more character slots, bank slots and more free Vault tickets. So all you have to do is pick up some cool items in the store or buy a DLC pack and you unlock Premium Access. The best part? Once you unlock Premium Access you keep it for the life of your account.
  • Legendary Access – With Legendary Access you can unlock the maximum level of features and benefits. To unlock Legendary Access you can pay for a $14.99 per month game pass, or save big with a discounted multi-month pass. Lifetime members are automatically granted Legendary access. Legendary Access also includes all DLC packs at no extra charge.

I haven’t touched DCUO in months, but I’d be interested in giving it another go if any of you are down. So how about it? Any of you guys and dolls thinking of playing DCUO when it becomes free-to-play?

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World of Warcraft Extends Dominance With Crack Cocaine Model

“The first one’s free!” said the friendly drug dealer. That’s how they get you hooked, you see. MMO publishers use a similar model, but Blizzard is taking it to a new level with World of Warcraft Starter Edition. Traditionally, MMOs have come with a trial measured in days — usually 14 to 30. Blizzard is now letting prospective customers play World of Warcraft for free up to level 20. Here’s a clip from the press email I received:

We’ve removed the previous 10- and 14-day trial time restrictions, and players who are interested in trying out World of Warcraft can now play the base game for free up to a maximum character level of 20, including draenei and blood elf characters — all they need is a Battle.net account and an Internet connection. To mark the occasion, we’ve also given the trial a new name: World of Warcraft Starter Edition. Players who had previously signed up for 10- or 14-day trials will be able to hop back into the Starter Edition right where they left off.

Already one of the most popular and successful MMOs in the business, World of Warcraft should attract legions of new players with this new model. It’s bold. It’s aggressive. It probably has other MMO publishers crying and/or banging their heads on brick walls.

What do you think of the new WoW model? Are you willing to give it a shot now that the free-to-play time is more generous?

DCUO Free DLC Adds Two-Face, Mxyzptlk, and More

Sony Online Entertainment has released some free DC Universe Online DLC that includes Batman villain Two-Face and Superman baddie Mr. Mxyzptlk. Here’s the laundry list of details from SOE senior producer Wes Yanagi…

Sony Online Entertainment has released some free DC Universe Online DLC that includes Batman villain Two-Face and Superman baddie Mr. Mxyzptlk. Here’s the laundry list of details from SOE senior producer Wes Yanagi:

Two-Face

  • Two-Face Instance: Following Harvey Dent/Two-Face on a mission into The Penguin’s hideout, players will aim to take out his latest smuggling operation. The kicker? You don’t know if he will help or hinder your efforts – the chances are 50/50 and everything depends on the flip of a coin!
  • Legends PvP: Harvey Dent/Two-Face will be added as a playable character in Legends “Play as Iconic” Player vs Player mode.
  • New Attacks: Call in your own mob of goons to keep your opponent occupied as you unleash a suppressive bullet spray, oil drum trap or grenade launcher.
  • Flip-of-the-Coin Abilities: Switch powers based on which side the coin lands: the Two-Face side deals more damage and DoT attacks and the Harvey Dent side gives more control, knockdowns and stuns.

Seasonal Content

  • Mister Mxyzptlk: Experience Metropolis transformed by the presence of Mister Mxyzptlk and his fellow 5th dimensional supervillain tricksters.
  • Multi Player Race: Players can assume the guise of a 5th Dimensional Denizen and play tricks on fellow races over the skies of Metropolis.
  • New Gold Collections: New encounters with 5th Dimensional Denizens dressed as Leprechauns guarding a Pot Of Gold that players will need to find and collect coins from while the leprechauns try to stop them in various amusing ways.

Additional Updates

  • Batcave 3 Raid: Level 30 players are brought face-to-face with The Dark Knight himself. Unfortunately, he’s been infected with a virus and has teamed up with the all-powerful Brainiac’s Avatar of Technology.

I’m planning to hop back into DCUO shortly and I’m really looking forward to encountering Two-Face. He’s one of my favorite Batman villains (just ignore Tommy Lee Jones’ horrible version). Hopefully some of you will join me. The only thing that could stop us is my iPad 2. (Playing games on a new gadget is more powerful than a batarang.)

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DC Universe Online is Super — Super Untradeable

Gamers hoping to buy a used copy of DC Universe Online (PS3) so that they can’t engage in super heroics (or villainy) for a bargain price are SOL. Gamers that tried DCUO and want to get rid of it will have a difficult time doing so. Lazy Gamer discovered that the game is currently worthless in the used market because the disc and account are tied together. Here’s what the site learned from Sony Online Entertainment:

Once the PSN key has been consumed with a disk it cannot be resold/replayed with the second user adding a sub — only the original consumer can use that acct.

Disk and account are one.

That…kind of sucks. That said, my copy was comped, so I wanted to see how you feel about the matter. Is this practice unfair? Or is it a smart way for publishers to counter used-game sales? Are you less interested in DCUO and supporting SOE because of this practice? I can’t wait to see your comments on this one!

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