Welcome to the hundred and sixteenth edition of RPGamer's Currents column!
It was a good week last week. We got an official release date for Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, I got to dive deep into the SC II Beta on Mac. I also got my invitation for Sony's E3 Press Conference, and I finally finished reading through the Mass Effect 2 prequel novel, Mass Effect: Ascension. In case you were wondering if the book was any good, I have to say that it added another layer of depth to the ME universe and gave me a much better understanding of the Cerberus organization and Quarian culture. All in all, it was a fun quick read and well worth the time for ME fans.
With that said, let's get to the News!
The New Batttle.Net is Set to Launch this Summer
Uniting RPG, RTS and MMO fans all over the world.
Early last week, Blizzard announced that StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will be released on July 27, 2010. Now at this point, you are probably asking yourself "why is he telling us about Starcraft II on a RPG centric website?" Well, the main reason is that when Blizzard launches Starcraft II, the company will also be launching the new and enhanced Battle.net. This is where the RPG part comes in; Battle.net will also be integrated with World of Warcraft and all future Blizzard games, including Diablo III. Blizzard has revealed a few new details about one of Battle.net's core features and has also revealed some information on Battle.net's social media integration.
One of the core features of the new Battle.net is what Blizzard is calling Real ID. This service will identify players in Battle.net by using real names on their friends list, when chatting with their friends, chatting in-game, or viewing their character's profile. This makes it easier to remember who exactly someone is. No matter what game you are playing or what server you are playing on, your real friends will always be readily accessible to you. Much like Xbox Live, everyone can party up, chat, and play their game of choice independent of each other. This service will also show you what your friends are currently doing on Battle.net like what games they are playing and what they are doing in that game. Blizzard is even including cross-game invites for people on your friends list and "broadcasts" which allows you to send a message to all your Real ID friends. But don't worry, it's all completely voluntary, so if you don't want your WoW or StarCraft friends to know your real name, that's not a problem. But if you are a real social butterfly and the Real ID system isn't enough for you, you'll be happy to know that Blizzard plans to integrate Battle.net with Facebook too.
Of course, the first game to feature Facebook integration will be StarCraft II, followed by WoW and Diablo III in the not too distant future. Blizzard has only announced that this feature will allow players to quickly add friends to their Battle.net friends list if they are already friends with them on Facebook. Apparently, there will be a lot more features that will further enhance the integration of the two services in the future. Paul Sams, the chief operating officer of Blizzard Entertainment, had this to say about the announcement:
"We're pleased to be working with Facebook to integrate their platform with Battle.net to enhance the social-entertainment experience for our players. This new functionality will make it easier than ever to connect with friends on Battle.net and play future Blizzard Entertainment games together."
Blizzard Entertainment is a great company, and I'm happy to see that it is continuously trying to improve its services and games. While I don't play WoW, I am a big fan of the StarCraft and Diablo series. Now I feel as though, in some small part, I can join all of my WoW playing friends in all of the excitement.
E3 2010 Is Gonna Be Huge
RPGamer is sure gonna be busy...
E3 is just around the corner (June 15-17 at the Los Angeles Convention Center), and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has announced that it has already registered 245 exhibitors and that attendee registration is huge. Those exhibitors already registered include major retailers, investor analyst firms, and media from over 60 countries. Compared to previous years, E3 2010 will be a much livelier event. In 2007 and 2008, E3 was an invitation-only event, and in 2008, many major publishers withdrew from the ESA trade body. In 2009, E3 returned to its previous glory with an 820% increase in attendance.
RPGamer will also be attending E3 this year as usual. The plane tickets have been purchased, the hotels have been booked, and our Commandeer-in-Chief, Michael Cunningham, is already at work behind the scenes to make sure that we have all the access that you all want. Our E3 team may not be as big this year as it has been in pervious years (once we had over 15 people go!) but all that means is that the few of us who are there will just have to work that much harder. Expect a lot of interviews, impressions, pictures, videos, and maybe even a podcast or two, time permitting. If you care about RPGs and maybe a new handheld or two, check back with us during E3 week.
Quick Hits: Some Small, But Inherently Cool News Stories
Bite Sized Tidbits of Knowledge
This should be another fun week. So far, the RPGame Nights that I have been running have been generally well received and now that Steam is launching for Macs on May 12th, I'll soon be able to participate in a larger variety of games with all of you. It seems like the weeks leading up to E3 are going to be pretty eventful for me. Look for the next column and RPGame Night soon.
See you all next time!
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