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- Activision had 111 million MAUs in the second quarter, down from 125 million in Q2 and up from 102 million in Q1 2020.
- Blizzard had 30 million MAUs in the second quarter. This is down from 32 million Q1 2020 and Q4 2019.
- World of Warcraft MAUs were stable year-over-year.
- World of Warcraft franchise engagement is at its highest level for this stage ahead of an expansion in a decade, with Shadowlands presales well ahead of any prior expansion.
- Hours played in Hearthstone grew year-over-year in the third quarter, with the Battlegrounds mode seeing sustained strong engagement since its release last November.
- Overwatch continues to have a large and dedicated community, with 10 million MAUsD in the quarter, over four years since launch
- Diablo Immortal will soon enter external regional testing.
- The Shadowlands release date is the 16 year anniversary of the original World of Warcraft release!
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We’ve seen a few of the costumes coming to Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and they’re pretty rad. However, I think I speak for many fans when I say the one we all wanted from the beginning is his suit from 2018’s acclaimed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Thankfully, Marvel and Inmoniac recognized this lay-up as well, revealing players can swing around Harlem rocking Miles' iconic film look.
Much like the comic-shaded outfit from the first game, the Spider-Verse suit is more than a simple re-skin. For one, it changes Miles’ figure to match his scrawnier model from the film. The coolest touch by far, though, is that the suit features the same, limited-frame animation style from the movie and comic-style onomatopoeia attacks. In short, it looks cool as heck.
The suit is a launch-day bonus, meaning players who pre-ordered will have it available from the beginning. Before anyone panics, Insomniac confirmed the suit can be unlocked in-game, same as the other costumes. That's great, as it ensure everyone can turn the game into their own personal Spider-Verse.
Our Spider-Man: Miles Morales issue is live now. Some of the great coverage you can enjoy includes some great developer interviews breaking down the game's combat and inspirations behind the story. You can also read our full, exclusive cover story. Spider-Man: Miles Morales launches November 12 for PlayStation 5 and Playstation 4.
Are you excited to swing around Harlem in this stylish costume? Let us know in the comments!
Season 7 of Apex Legends releases next week, and in advance of the big launch, we got to spend time with some behind-the-scenes content to see what the future holds. Here are the awesome features on the horizon for Respawn’s multiplayer online shooter.
Olympus Is Apex Legends’ Most Ambitious Map Yet
That unidentified floating object just outside of the Kings Canyon Airbase has been revealed. Pack your things, champions! We’re going to Olympus – a flying metropolis that overlooks the planet Psamathe. Olympus is larger than Kings Canyon and smaller than World’s Edge. Nevertheless, the city is brimming with vibrant shopping centers, lavish estates, industrial docks, and glass skyscrapers. There’s also the Rift, a location that will likely draw your attention the minute you load into a match. The Rift is a large, unstable singularity that players can use to teleport themselves to select locations across the map. With a variety of architectural structures, interconnected highways, and deathpits that lead to the astral abyss below, Olympus brings new visuals and level mechanics that are bound to impress.
The Trident Can Get You To Points Of Interest Quickly
Yes, unlimited sprinting is a blessing in its own right – especially when you consider how expansive Kings Canyon and World’s Edge are. However, a vehicle bridges the gap for those frustrating situations when your legs are simply not fast enough. You know: narrow escapes, third-party attempts, ring rotations, and so on. The Trident, a three-seater hover cruiser, offers swift navigation and the potential to counter long-range playstyles. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can deploy an array of legend-specific items on the Trident’s rear or forward platforms. Set up Rampart’s minigun on the Trident and mow down enemy teams with a flurry of bullets or, if you’re in a toxic mood (pun intended), play as Caustic and attach a bunch of his noxious traps to the vehicle so you can motor around Olympus like some high-speed stinkbug.
Horizon Prioritizes Mobility & Crowd-Control
If you haven’t already heard the news, Horizon will be joining the fray in Season 7. Unlike Season 6’s Rampart (whose success hinges on holding angles and occupying choke points with her massive minigun), Horizon’s abilities give her and her team a terrifying positional edge. Horizon’s passive, Spacewalk, reduces fall impact so that she’s never at a disadvantage when ambushing her enemies from above. Her tactical ability, Gravity Lift, lifts teammates upwards so that they can be situated on high ground. However, clever Horizon players will use Gravity Lift to separate downed adversaries from their squadmates and secure kills. Lastly, her ultimate, Black Hole, packs a devastating punch. Horizon's black hole pulls players towards it (think Zarya’s Graviton Surge in Overwatch). Black Hole has the potential to lead to easy squad wipes, but don’t worry: Respawn is working hard to balance it come launch day.
You Can Create Or Join A Clan With The Clubs Feature
In response to the stresses of playing with random, uncaring teammates, Respawn is implementing Clubs so that you can build large-form communities of up to 30 people. You can only be a member of one club at a time, but this is meant to help reduce feed clutter. If you opt to create your own club, you can set the group name and get to work customizing an official logo. The pains of soloing are now a thing of the past.
The Battle Pass Has Been Revamped
The Season 7 Battle Pass got some quality-of-life updates that make progression a more streamlined process. Instead of waiting to go back to the lobby and scrolling to the challenges menu, you’ll be able to see your challenge tracker on the right side of the game screen at all times. During matches, close-to-completed challenges will appear so that you can keep tabs on your objectives and level up your Battle Pass at a much faster, less intrusive rate. Of course, there will be new legendary cosmetics (Octane and Wraith’s new getups are standouts) as well as a level-100 dynamic skin for the fan-favorite R-99 SMG. Yes, that’s right:
The R-99 Is Finally Back In Rotation
The beloved SMG makes its triumphant return to the battlefield. Respawn’s shocking decision to make the R-99 a rare care package weapon during Season 6 completely changed the loadout meta; the gun’s mid- and short-range versatility made it a popular option for casual and competitive players alike. The introduction of the Volt SMG filled the void by boasting similar damage numbers with lower vertical recoil. Now that the R-99 is back, players will have more than one reliable close-combat firearm to choose from. Unfortunately, this exciting update comes at a cost: The Prowler SMG is slated to become the newest care package weapon. For those of us that often use the Prowler, there is a silver-lining: At least we won’t have to waste time searching for those annoyingly elusive selectfire receivers.
Apex Legends’ Season 7 drops on November 4. In addition to eventually releasing on Switch and Steam, Apex Legends will be available for next-gen consoles on launch day.
In this week's episode of The Game Informer Show, we discuss a handful of the games we've been playing recently, including: Watch Dogs: Legion, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope, and Ghostrunner. Then, we close the show with another fantastic round of community emails. It may sound simple, but it's one great show! So please join Kim Wallace, Marcus Stewart, Blake Hester, Alex Stadnik, Alex Van Aken, and myself for another wild and ever-entertaining episode!
Thanks for listening! Please make sure to leave feedback below, share the episode if you enjoyed it, and follow me @benjaminreeves to let me know what you think. You can watch the video above, subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes or Google Play, listen on SoundCloud, stream it on Spotify, or download the MP3 at the bottom of the page. Also, be sure to send your questions to [email protected] for a chance to have them answered on the show.
Our thanks to The Rapture Twins for The Game Informer Show's intro song. You can hear more of their music at their website.
To jump to a particular point in the discussion, check out the time stamps below.
Watch Dogs: Legion:
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope:
Modern Warfare Warzone:
Super Mario Sunshine:
Jackbox Party Pack 7:
Introducing Alex Van Aken:
What’s scarier than monsters, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night? We’ve all seen bots in games by now. I don’t mean players setting up systems to run to farm crafting materials in predictable routes or to play cards in a set order; I’m talking about bots designed by developers. Now, you might be saying to yourself, “What’s wrong with bots?” Bots can fill lobbies to make sure games can launch, they can make matchmaking take a lot less time, and hey, it's always fun shooting down an automated opponent and getting a free kill in a field with dozens of human opponents running around. But there’s a lot more to these innocuous A.I. additions, and they have implications for all kinds of multiplayer experiences. With the trends we’re seeing in data acquisition, user privacy, and monetization models, bots are headed for dangerous implementation.
The Ghost In The Machine
On the surface, pairing up players with bots seems like a good thing. No one wants to wait more than a few seconds to find a match, whether it’s in an online shooter lobby or a mobile card battler. Beating up on bots might not seem like an issue, even if it’s changing your rating, ranking, or other parameters over time. Depending on the game, you may not even be aware your opponent is a bot. Maybe a bot is your sole opponent, or perhaps the game can field many bots, but the takeaway is that the developer can tweak the challenge (or lack thereof) directly by bot prescience. While adjusting the difficulty in this fashion may seem harmless, it becomes a sketchy proposition as we dive in.
Consider a game that has tiers, unlocks, and monetization based around winning. Would you be more likely to make a purchase if you were defeated by a new titan unit added to a battle game? What if you lost to it three times in a row, and then an in-game ad for a titan pack plays on your screen with a cute little jingle? What if that ad inspires you to purchase the hot new unit? What if the games knows you bought the unit, so it matches you up against bots (which it knows you can beat) to give you several easy victories?
In that scenario, your mind would undoubtedly link these wins with your recent purchase. And that purchase would be tied to happy feelings, big victories, and good associations. When it’s “working,” all this stuff potentially happens without the user even knowing, and that could be a massive issue. It is not really a competitive game when the matchmaking tool is only moving you from one session to the next by prioritizing 1) keeping you playing, and 2) putting you into situations and scenarios where you’re more likely to make a purchase. While this doesn't apply to every game or situation, the impact that these dial-turning options can have on your play experience is alarming.
I Feel Good! So Good!
In addition to the terrifying scenario where you’re playing against non-entities in a constant string of value propositions where the goal is to squirt dopamine into your brain and link purchases to feeling good, recent times have given us other bot concerns. It’s fairly commonplace for a game to pair you against nothing but bots for your first few matches; this has become ridiculously common in battle royales, especially mobile battle royales. They do not tell you this. Instead, the intent is to make you feel like you’re a god of the game on your first match. Whether you actually learn how to play or are good at the game are irrelevant factors.
Sure, you can make the case that the first few matches should be against bots so that the player doesn’t get killed in three seconds and delete the game forever. Engagement. Yeah, that makes sense. But they don’t tell you that you’re fighting bots, and people take screenshots of their epic wins and post them on Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, Tinder… Okay, maybe not Tinder. This is a great way for these games to drive faux-organic interest; everyone posting an epic win against automated foes (who are designed to be beaten) becomes an unwitting product ambassador. It would be a lot better if the games told you that you were going to be playing against bots, but then where would the big win sensation come from? And of course, after the bot games are over and you’re settled in, that’s when the real tinkering can be done.
Looking at how the system works, we need to examine how a game sets you up with X bots, Y players, and Z skill level of enemies. More specifically, how does it find the closest matching environment where you will still get that dopamine rush and the thrill of victorious moments but not letting you crush every game and get bored? In some respects, the science behind these algorithms is a precarious and horrifying tightrope. It’s trying to balance your games to keep you playing, keep you interested, and ultimately get you to make a purchase, whether that be cosmetic or functional. Utilizing this data to create a match may not play the song for you, but it assembles all the notes for the tune to happen. It’s a concept we used to be able to just call “fun factor,” but now it’s actual science based on billions upon billions of data points. Is it really playing a game if everything has already “played out” in a hypothetical algorithm the moment you press play? That’s a question we’ll have to answer as bots continue to become a bigger factor in multiplayer experiences – whether we know they’re there or not.
Gears POP! was a surprise reveal blending the worlds of Funko POPS and Gears of War into a tactical mobile game that was announced right at the same time as Microsoft's Gears Tactics. A more playful experience with some of our favorite Gears characters, the name alone was not enough to keep this train chugging. Unfortunately, the studio behind the title, Mediatonic, has announced that servers will be shutting down permanently early next year.
The studio took to the Gears POP! blog to share the latest update. "Thank you Gears," begins the farewell. "Together we have taken on countless waves of Horde and vanquished foes on the Versus battlefield but sadly Gears Pop! is closing on April 26, 2021. Until that time, we’re bringing back some of our most popular events, increasing Bounty rewards, and upping the drop rates for Legendary Pins. Effective immediately, in-app purchasing has also been disabled. Thank you for your understanding and support."
The servers will remain active, with pins still usable, until April 26, 2021. Refunds will be automatically issued for anything purchased within 90 days of October 28, 2020. Anything bought between July 30 - October 28 is eligible, according to the site, though refunds themselves might take a few weeks to process.
While some have shown interest in keeping the game alive, Mediatonic added that there are many factors that go into keeping a game like this active and functional beyond just keeping the lights on in the servers. Bug fixes, content updates, balance changes; they all factor in and this is something that the team can no longer maintain.
Mediatonic is the same studio behind Fall Guys -- an adorable battle royale game with a jelly bean twist -- which has seen an incredible amount of success since launch. With that online adventure still dominating in popularity, it's good to see that the team has other creations to share with the world.
What do you think about Gears POP! and the servers shutting down? Are you sad to see it go? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below!
Castle Nathria and Shadowlands Season 1 Go Live December 8
Ion on Raid Release Timing
Honestly, this pretty much nails it. We do "try to" avoid these conflicts whenever possible, and the ideal answer would have been to release the game, well... right about now, but it just wasn't ready.
Launching but delaying the raid further would ruin overall pacing; delaying the whole game to avoid the Mythic conflict wouldn't be right for everyone who's been patiently waiting. (Source)
Activision Blizzard Q3 2020 Investor Call
The Activision Blizzard earnings call is this afternoon. We've highlighted some of the written results below.