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'I care about Blizzard but the Hong Kong situation is dire': the gaming convention rocked by protest

The Guardian

Eric did not imagine this would be how he would spend his first BlizzCon. The 26-year-old World of Warcraft (WoW) player from Glendale, California, was at the annual fan event in Anaheim held by Blizzard, the games company behind global hits such as Warcraft, Overwatch and more. Each year, more than 35,000 people pack into the city's vast convention centre to play games, attend talks and share in their fandom. But at this year's event, held last weekend, there was a different feel. Instead of WoW cosplay, Eric was sporting a mask as worn by Hong Kong protesters to shield their faces from tear gas and facial recognition.


Overwatch 2 – the long-awaited sequel inspired by the Avengers

The Guardian

Team-based multiplayer shooter Overwatch is getting a sequel: and interestingly for fans, it'll bring story missions into the game for the first time. According to Blizzard, it will also "redefine what a sequel means". Which is quite a claim for an online shooter. Unveiled with a crowd-pleasing cinematic trailer at annual fan convention BlizzCon last week, Overwatch 2 will introduce PvE missions in an all-new story mode, as well as a new core competitive mode, Push, a six-versus-six PvP team battle, which sees teams compete to have a robot push the map's objective to their opponent. Before now, the original 2016 first person shooter focused on PvP gameplay, with spin-off comic books and animated shorts filling in backstories for the popular crew of ragtag leads.


DeepMind claims landmark moment for AI in esports

#artificialintelligence

DeepMind says it has created the first artificial intelligence to reach the top league of one of the most popular esport video games. It says Starcraft 2 had posed a tougher AI challenge than chess and other board games, in part because opponents' pieces were often hidden from view. Publication in the peer-reviewed journal Nature allows the London-based lab to claim a new milestone. But some pro-gamers have mixed feelings about it claiming Grandmaster status. DeepMind - which is owned by Google's parent company Alphabet - said the development of AlphaStar would help it develop other AI tools which should ultimately benefit humanity.


DeepMind claims landmark moment for AI in esports

#artificialintelligence

DeepMind says it has created the first artificial intelligence to reach the top league of one of the most popular esport video games. It says Starcraft 2 had posed a tougher AI challenge than chess and other board games, in part because opponents' pieces were often hidden from view. Publication in the peer-reviewed journal Nature allows the London-based lab to claim a new milestone. But some pro-gamers have mixed feelings about it claiming Grandmaster status. DeepMind - which is owned by Google's parent company Alphabet - said the development of AlphaStar would help it develop other AI tools which should ultimately benefit humanity.


What to Know About Blizzard, Hong Kong and the Controversy Over Politics in Esports

TIME - Tech

Though video game culture is seldom a quiet, peaceful place, the uproar over Blizzard Entertainment punishing a popular gamer for showing support for Hong Kong protesters has shaken the whole industry. Ng Wai Chung, a Hearthstone player from Hong Kong who goes by the name "Blitzchung," championed the pro-democracy protests in his hometown that have raged for the past five months during his appearance on a post-game stream. And Blizzard, the developer and publisher of Hearthstone, quickly responded with blanket punishments for everyone involved. It's the latest example of an American company caught between business interests in China and western-world freedom of speech. Outrage over Blizzard's reaction swiftly came from players, industry titans and politicians.


Hong Kong Is the Latest Tripwire for Tech Firms in China

#artificialintelligence

On Wednesday morning, Mark Kern sat down with his 12-year-old son to tell him the guild was breaking up. Kern had been involved with World of Warcraft from the very beginning--a game developer himself, he was the original team leader for the title when Blizzard Entertainment launched it in 2004--and was a steadfast player of WoW Classic, a throwback version of the game that launched in August. Over the weekend, an esports player for another Blizzard title, Hearthstone, had shouted a Hong Kong protest slogan on the game's official Taiwanese livestream; in response, Activision Blizzard suspended the player from high-level competitive play for a year and said it would not pay out his past winnings, claiming that he had violated rules barring acts that "offend[] a portion or group of the public." For Kern, who was born in Taiwan and spent time in Hong Kong, the studio he'd called home for nearly eight years had changed. He told his son that he had decided to cancel his WoW subscription, putting an end to their family tradition.


World of Warcraft now lets me play as a fat guy, and I love it for that

PCWorld

Every so often I get the urge to travel to the Caverns of Time dungeon in World of Warcraft and behold one of the game's rarest creatures. Instead, this once-endangered species is a portly human mage who ambles down shady lanes in the Hillsbrad Foothills. So far as anyone knew, he was the only fat human in the game for at least a decade, and damn if he didn't make a potbelly look good. He carried himself with the poise of a king. He didn't give a flip what you thought of his paunch-friendly shirt.


This week in games: Heroes of the Storm winds down, Monster Hunter adds The Witcher's Geralt

PCWorld

Today marks the release of Capy's Below, and with that? The end of 2018, at least so far as video games are concerned. Sure, there may be a few smaller Steam releases in the remaining weeks, but I'm drawing the line here. You'll find me playing Exapunks in the corner. Daybreak announced the sci-fi battle royale Planetside Arena this week, Metro Exodus moved its launch date up a week, Blizzard put Heroes of the Storm on death's doorstep, Monster Hunter: World is adding Geralt, and ZeniMax settled its long-running VR lawsuit against Facebook.


Engadget UK giveaway: Win a 'Diablo III' edition Switch courtesy of Blizzard

Engadget

'Tis the season to wear silly jumpers, consume too much of everything and spend cold weekends catching up on all the games you didn't play over summer. And this week, to stave off boredom during the long nights, we're giving away a limited edition Diablo III Nintendo Switch thanks to our friends at Blizzard. The bundle includes a Switch with gothic decals, a download code for Diablo III: Eternal Collection and a themed carry case. We also have five extra cases to send to the runners-up, in case you can get away with taking your Switch to your aunt's house on Boxing Day. You can get your no-strings-attached entry in via the Rafflecopter widget below, but don't forget to give the rules a quick look first.


Blizzard is interested in bringing all of its franchises to mobile

Mashable

Diablo Immortal is just the tip of the iceberg for Blizzard Entertainment's new ventures in mobile. After the reveal of Diablo Immortal at BlizzCon Friday, I had a chance to talk to Blizzard founder Allen Adham, who is currently the executive producer of incubation, about its newly announced mobile game and the possibility of other Blizzard franchises getting the mobile treatment. SEE ALSO: 'World of Warcraft Classic' is kind of agonizing No other new mobile games were confirmed by Adham, but he did nod at the fact that the company is interested in creating more mobile games, even hinting at the fact that more unannounced projects are currently in production. "We're excited to imagine taking all of our IPs [intellectual properties] into this venue and bringing them to a full-on global audience," Adham said. "I think in some cases they'll be completely new games. You see this with Hearthstone -- a total reimagining of an all-new game type using the Warcraft IP. In some cases it might be -- like we've shown with Diablo Immortal -- a similar game type but different and unlinked from the core game franchise."