As Diablo 4 developers prepare a final push to the game's planned release date next year, a number of current and former Blizzard employees who worked on the project described a troubled development process to The Washington Post.
The Post published an article today based on discussions with 15 current or former Blizzard employees. While the current plan is for the game to release June 6, they said it has already been pushed back multiple times, and even meeting this date is likely to require significant crunching.
While Activision Blizzard is not mandating crunch, it is incentivizing it with perks some developers described as "paltry."
Those perks range from $25 in DoorDash credit for people working more than 10 hours a day to a stock bonus plan where developers who finish the game and stay with the company for at least a year after can get anywhere from $5,000 (for entry-level employees) to $50,000 (for senior-level developers) in stock if performance targets are met.
Employees blamed poor management for the crunch and the repeatedly shifting release date.
Original director Luis Barriga and lead designer Jesse McCree – both of whom were fired last August in the wake of state and federal gender discrimination lawsuits against Activision Blizzard – were blamed for not following through on decisions, abandoning features and throwing away the work already done on them, micromanaging, pursuing certain elements of the game and then losing interest and delegating them for others to finish, a process that was said to begin burning people out.
Former Epic Games and Irrational Games veteran Rod Fergusson was also cited as a problem. Having parachuted into Irrational Games late in BioShock Infinite's development, Fergusson had some reputation for getting troubled games across the finish line. However, Blizzard employees said when he joined the team in February of 2020, his big contribution seemed to be launching a "Rodcast" weekly Zoom meeting where several hundred people would listen to him mix addressing legitimate development issues with talk of movies or celebrities he knew.
"People got frustrated because we all thought he was gonna come in and fix the game," one former employee said. "And when nothing happened, that's when you started to see this massive turnover."
Other factors that developers said exacerbated the loss of experienced developers and institutional knowledge were poor pay, unsatisfactory working conditions, and morale. After the company's gender discrimination lawsuits landed, senior leadership changed at both Blizzard and on the project itself, and Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick blamed the publisher's falling stock price not on the mounting scandals it was facing but on the delays of Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4, which one developer said did not go over well.
For those at Blizzard Albany, seeing their former studio head Jen Oneal promoted to co-leader of Blizzard and then resign months later saying Activision Blizzard refused to pay her the same as co-leader Mike Ybarra was a further blow.
"You're like, 'Man, I feel like I'm working for the bad guys," one women who formerly worked at Blizzard Albany said. "I feel like any work I do is tainted by this name."
A Blizzard spokesperson told the Post, "As you may know, game development in general, and Diablo 4 specifically, follows an iterative process where the scope evolves over time. Production on the game is going extremely well. Overtime is voluntary and limited to specific teams. We regularly survey the team on their professional well-being, and the latest results are the most positive they've been in years.
When Riot Games’ two biggest releases, League of Legends and Valorant, hit Game Pass next week, there will be a very strong incentive for folks to be linking their Riot accounts to their Microsoft ones: for subscribers every single LoL champion, and every single Valorant agent, will be unlocked.
Currently, because those games are free-to-play on PC, unless you want to grind you have to pay for that stuff, and that’s how Riot makes its money. But because you’re already paying for Game Pass, and because Microsoft wants to give you a reason to play through them, everyone is getting everything for free, straight up.
There won’t be seperate versions of the games made available; rather, all players will need to do will be to link their Riot accounts to their Game Pass accounts and then everything will just be unlocked from there. Future characters will also be made available “as soon as they’re released”.
The deal doesn’t just include Riot’s two flagship games, it will also apply to Legends of Runeterra, Teamfight Tactics and the upcoming League of Legends: Wild Rift (though what you get of course varies between each game).
All current Agents
Access to every new Agent as soon as they’re released
20% Match XP boost given to Battle Pass, Event Pass, and active Agent Contract progress
League of Legends
All 160+ champions
Access to every new champion as soon as they’re released
20% XP boost
Legends of Runeterra
All cards in Foundations Set
1-Star Rare Little Legend Tacticians
4 Arena Skins available until April 2023, and 1 Arena Skin that’s on a monthly rotation thereafter
League of Legends: Wild Rift (coming in January) unlocked benefits include:
All 80+ champions
Day-one access to every new champion as they’re released
20% XP boost
as an added benefit, players who link their accounts before January 1,
2023 will receive even more bonus rewards from Riot:
Valorant – Pocket Sage Buddy
League of Legends – Masterwork Chest and Key
Teamfight Tactics – Little Legend Rare Egg
Wild Rift – Random Emote Chest
Legends of Runeterra – Prismatic Chest
Trading in New World is once again temporarily disabled due to a newly discovered exploit affecting the Trading Post. This comes after the team had already paused some of its newly implemented cooldown restrictions on Company switching for a few days.
“Today our internal data alarms detected a Trading Post exploit, involving manipulating specific contracts in an error state. We have a fix for this issue in testing,” the update begins. Something set off the data alarms and they declare that only a small number of players took advantage of this exploit, but in order to shut down the possibility of more exploits and minimize damage to the economy, trading is once again temporarily disabled by Trading Post and player to player trading as well.
The downtime is likely to be minimal since they are currently testing a fix for the issue after identifying it. As with more recent times when trading was affected in this way due to exploits, the New World team looks to minimize disruptions.
This new issue comes on the heels of the week’s update, which stated the newly revamped Winter Convergence Festival, but also included some changes intended to fight the shell Companies, which let some territory fall under the control of the same people and eliminate fair competition. One of the changes included cooldowns when it came to certain actions:
“When leaving a Company, players will start a 72 hour cooldown on fighting in a defensive War and earning Influence for any Company toward War declaration eligibility. The cooldown begins once a player leaves.”
The issue arose when the update applied this penalty retroactively, meaning that those that had left companies this week were being locked out of participation in Wars. Some in the community expressed their frustration at the retroactive application and allegedly unclear time when they would’ve had to have their Company set.
Amazon has decided to suspend these cooldowns for a few days in order to let players get things in order. This will begin to be enforced on December 11th at 2 AM PT/ 5 AM ET so if you are thinking of switching Companies, you need to be in the right one three days before this deadline.
Sneaky YouTubers are pretending their simulated football games are actually the World Cup.
Clever YouTube channels have found a way to tap into World Cup fever, streaming fake football matches that have been simulated in FIFA 23. Some of these videos have racked up tens or even hundreds of thousands of views, most likely tricking people who are searching for live pirate streams of the World Cup (Google Trends confirms spiking interest in the term "World Cup stream" over the last week).
According to Vietnamese news site VNExpress, a reader noted that one such video streamed near the start of the World Cup fooled them into thinking it was simply a low quality stream. "It wasn't until I read the comments on the livestream and watched the player's face close-up that I knew it was the image in the FIFA 23 game simulating the World Cup," they said (via machine translation).
A YouTube channel called Minute90Kplus, which VNExpress highlighted, has recently uploaded a number of videos and livestreams of World Cup matchups simulated in eFootball (formerly PES) and FIFA 23. One stream, posted on Tuesday, racked up 214,000 views. The most popular, from eight days ago, has accrued 277,000—though based on YouTube's chat replay feature, it seems like there may never be many active viewers on these streams. If I had to guess, they're just tuning in long enough to figure out they're not looking at the real thing.
But eFootball21 and FIFA 23 can be pretty convincing, at least from a camera angle high above the pitch. Drop the quality down to 240p or so, and I can see how people could be fooled.
I found several other Vietnamese World Cup channels, though they're not always trying to completely hide that the footage is fake. Still, using the #WorldCup2022 hashtag suggests they're hoping to grab a piece of that World Cup traffic. FIFA claimed 3.57 billion people watched the 2018 World Cup, so there's a whole lot of attention to go around.
The simulated match trick is hardly exclusive to Vietnamese YouTube channels: English channel Football Live, for example, has 1.25 million subscribers thanks to the same scheme, and countless YouTubers film themselves watching the World Cup with titles like "BRAZIL vs SOUTH KOREA LIVE Stream Watchalong" to catch a few eyeballs, too. Because some of these videos throw you into a couple ads immediately before you can watch, they're guaranteed to get a little bit of ad revenue even from viewers who bounce as soon as they realize they're not actually going to watch the match.
Everything we know about the Elden Ring DLC, including its release date and content for Barbarians of the Badlands.
Since its release on 25th February 2022, FromSoftware's Elden Ring has been killing it, raking in over 16 million sales. Therefore, it is no surprise that Tarnished want an Elden Ring DLC or expansion to give them even more reason to venture back into the Lands Between.
This article shares everything we know about the highly-anticipated Elden Ring DLC, including its potential release date and what type of content you can expect. Rise, Tarnished!
Elden Ring DLC Release Date
At the time of writing, there is no exact release date for Elden Ring's first DLC. Pinpointing a release date window might just be as difficult as taking down Malenia using a Dance Pad as a controller...
Judging by past SoulsBorne titles, we know that FromSoftware generally takes less than one year to produce a big piece of DLC content, often seen as full expansions, for their titles; except for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
Elden Ring releases on 25th February 2022, so going by some historical data on FromSoftware titles, we expect the game's first DLC to release before 25th February 2023. However, there's no official word on the possible expansion at the time of writing. you as soon as an Elden Ring DLC/Expansion is officially announced and what the release date might be.
Elden Ring Barbarians of the Badlands Leaked?
Some leaks have suggested that Elden Ring's first DLC will be called Barbarians of the Badlands. As a full-scale expansion, Barbarians of the Badlands is reportedly set outside the scope of the Lands Between.
If you paid close attention to the game's lore, you would know that the Badlands is where Tarnished got exiled after Godfrey lost his grace.
The Tarnished, including Godfrey, perished in the Badlands. During the Elden Ring prologue, Tarnished returned to the Lands Between. If the first Elden Ring DLC is, in fact, Barbarians of the Badlands, it might take place in the past.
Keep in mind that the little leaked information about Barbarians of the Badlands should be taken with a large helping of salt until FromSoftware or Bandai Namco reveals official info.
At this point, all Elden Ring DLC/Expansion content is pure speculation. Some believe it could be focused on Melania's brother, Miquella, described as "the most fearsome Empyrean of all".
Alternatively, there's speculation that Elden Ring's first DLC could be focused on PvP, set in that massive Colosseum in the Caelid area.
Will Elden Ring Have Multiple DLCs?
We can't help but wonder which new terrors will be unleashed in the upcoming Elden Ring DLC. While there is a chance developer FromSoftware could release more than one Elden Ring DLC, no information about how many DLCs the game will have is currently available.
Except for the Demon's Soul Remake, every other Soulsborne title has received at least one big DLC.
For reference, let's look at FromSoftware's SoulsBorne titles and how many DLCs they've received.
Dark Souls - One DLC.
Dark Souls 2 - Two DLCs.
Dark Souls 3 - Two DLCs.
Bloodborne - One DLC.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - One free DLC.
Our best guess is that Elden Ring will receive at least one big, expansion-size DLC and possibly a few one or more minor DLC.
We will update this article as soon as more information about an Elden Ring DLC becomes available. Stay tuned!
The exact date and time for the Vault of the Incarnates release in World of Warcraft Dragonflight, so you know when the next raid opens.
Heroes of Azeroth are excited for the first WoW Dragonflight raid to open up. Entitled Vault of the Incarnates, players will be able to acquire iLvl 389 loot or higher as they assault the fortress and the eight bosses within. That's why many can't wait for the exact release time and date for the WoW Dragonflight Vault of the Incarnates raid.
This article explains the precise time, and date Vault of the Incarnates opens for both US and EU players, so guilds can prepare with the best loot possible, get their raid compositions together, level up those professions, and more.
When Does Vault of the Incarnates Release?
First off, an official description of the new raid for WoW Dragonflight gives you an idea of what you and your raid party will have to face: "The Primalists breached the Titan prison used to hold the Incarnates for millennia. Within, Raszageth performs a foul ritual to unleash her siblings so together they can purge the world of the Titans' influence.
"The champions of Azeroth must assault this impregnable fortress and break their defenses to end this threat. While many could fall, defeat condemns all the realms to the Incarnates' reign of fire and blood."
With the lore description out of the way, you should know there are eight bosses and that Normal, Heroic, and Mythic Vault of the Incarnates will open at the same time.
WoW Dragonflight Vault of the Incarnates Raid Times & Dates
Vault of the Incarnates opens in the US on Tuesday, 12th December, at 08:00 PST.
Vault of the Incarnates opens in Europe on Wednesday, 13th December, at 04:00 CEST.
Cross-faction Mythic Vault of the Incarnates will be available from the start. Hall of Fame entries will require at least 16 out of 20 raiders to be from the same guild and faction to be eligible for rewards.
So there you have it, the exact dates and times in your region that Vault of the Incarnates releases as the first raid in WoW Dragonflight.