WOW Subscriptions Down 5 Percent

May 10, 2011 -

During its post-earnings call this week, Activision blizzard revealed that World of Warcraft subscriptions are down by about five percent. In October 2010, the popular MMORPG had around 12 million subscribers. Now the game enjoys about 11.4 million subscribers. To deal with the drop off, Blizzard's president Michael Morhaime said that the company has to release future expansion packs in a more timely fashion to contain player drop-off.

"As our players have become more experienced playing World of Warcraft over many years, they have become much better and much faster at consuming content," said Blizzard president Michael Morhaime during a conference call. "And so I think with Cataclysm they were able to consume the content faster than with previous expansions, but that's why we're working on developing more content."

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World of Warcraft Goes Slightly Mobile

May 5, 2011 -

iPhone and Android phone users can take Blizzard's World of Warcraft Remotes service for a test drive. Blizzard is offering a week-long free trial of the service beginning today but it is only offering it (initially anyway) for the most popular Mobile operating systems.

World of Warcraft Remotes cost $2.99 per month and lets users control a couple of in-game functions. Remote Auction House lets users check on active auctions, allowing them to bid, buy and create auctions, and more. It also provides notifications for those more important auction activities and allows you to renew those expired auction offerings. The second part of Remotes is Remote Guild Chat, which obviously lets you chat with your mates without actually being logged into the game.

You can download the free trial from Battle.net.

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Blizzard Donates $800K to Make-A-Wish Foundation

May 5, 2011 -

The Make-A-Wish Foundation announced that World of Warcraft maker Blizzard Entertainment has given an $800,000 donation to the charity dedicated to making the dreams of sick and terminally ill children come true. The donation amount represents 50 percent of the total sales during November and December 2010 of a special World of Warcraft in-game pet, the Moonkin Hatchling. Ultimately, that generosity is the result of WOW players, who spent the extra money to get the in-game pet.

Blizzard Entertainment celebrated the donation on World Wish Day (April 29) by granting the wishes of two boys at the company's headquarters in Irvine, California. Blizzard welcomed the two fans and their families to enjoy an exclusive learning experience with the World of Warcraft development team, including an inside look at how the game is created.

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World of Warcraft Cenarion Hatchling Emerges for Japan Relief Efforts

May 2, 2011 -

Blizzard Entertainment has released a new World of Warcraft companion to the pet store, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to relief efforts for Japan. World of Warcraft players that purchase the new pet can take comfort in the fact that they are getting a new in-game friend and that all the money they paid for it goes to help Japan with its ongoing relief efforts. The Cenarion Hatchling costs $10 USD.

The Cenarion Hatchling is the twin of the rare Hippogryph Hatchling pet players could randomly encounter in the first World of Warcraft Trading Card Game set, Heroes of Azeroth. Now he is available for your pleasure. For every Cenarion Hatchling purchased between now and July 31, Blizzard will donate 100 percent of the $10 USD "adoption fee" to the American Red Cross's Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami relief efforts.

For more information, check out this page.

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FBI Raids University of Michigan Students' Apartment over WoW Gold Farming

April 14, 2011 -

The FBI has raided the apartment of two University of Michigan students to investigate what it has called "potentially fraudulent sales or purchases of virtual currency that people use to advance in the popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft." The story comes from Computer World. The FBI thinks the two students are terrorists who are doing "something" in World of Warcraft to further some sort of terrorist plot. It's hard to say what exactly they suspect from the two within Blizzard's virtual world, but they obviously aren't going on a hunch here.

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How to Reach Level 85 in World of Warcraft Without Killing Anything

April 11, 2011 -

Could you imagine finishing World of Warcraft (hitting the highest possible level) without killing a single thing? It is hard to imagine, but it is apparently very possible to do. Incredibly hard? For sure. Impossible? No. According to one player named Everbloom he managed to hit level 85 without killing a single creature. How did he accomplish such an arduous task, you ask?

He claims that he spent the last five months picking herbs, digging up bones, exploring the wilderness of Azeroth, and doing all manner of tedious tasks to gain experience. He did this by taking advantage of the Professions system, gaining small amounts of experience for advancing in various extracurricular activities.

Below is his announcement, taken verbatim from the Battle.net forums:

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Two New Studies Using World of Warcraft from Colorado University

April 6, 2011 -

Two new Colorado State University studies examines the potential positive effects of video games using world of Warcraft as its testing grounds. The studies explore how video game players can become deeply involved in their games to the point where they may block out the "external environment" and temporarily feel that their play environment is as vivid and important as the real world. Researchers at Colorado State University say that such "absorptive experiences" can be positive ones, providing important mental health benefits.

Two studies recently published by Jeffrey Snodgrass, associate professor of anthropology at Colorado State, examine different types of video gaming experiences and the effects they can have on players’ lives, including their levels of stress, satisfaction and happiness. In both studies, Snodgrass and his research team examined the popular online game, World of Warcraft.

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BlizzCon 2011 Announced, Details Thin

February 7, 2011 -

Blizzard Entertainment announced some of the things fans can expect from the sixth annual BlizzCon gaming convention, this year taking place at the Anaheim Convention Centre in Anaheim, California October 21 - 22.

This year's event dedicated to all things Blizzard (StarCraft, Warcraft, and World of Warcraft) promises hands-on play time with the latest Blizzard games (we assume that means players will get to try out Diablo III, the latest chapter in the StarCraft II series, and any new WOW stuff Blizzard has planned), casual and competitive tournaments for players of all skill levels, community contests with special prizes, "commemorative" merchandise based on the company's various game universes, and the usual assortment of keynotes, workshops, and discussions.

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WOW Gold Sellers Feel the Wrath of PayPal

February 1, 2011 -

World of Warcraft gold sellers using PayPal as their preferred method of payment are getting a surprise from the wholly-owned eBay subsidiary: a threatening letter.

Last week Blizzard sent out complaints to PayPal, accusing gold and virtual property resellers of " intellectual property." This week PayPal jumped on a number of companies, issuing the following letter:

"You were reported to PayPal as an Intellectual Properties violation by Blizzard Entertainment Inc. for the sale of World of Warcraft Merchandise.

If you feel your sales do not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of the Reporting Party, please complete the attached Objection to Infringement Report by January 21, 2011."

Companies can certainly appeal the ruling (to what end we do not know), but to be compliant they have to cease their activities and remove all incidents of "intellectual property violations. "

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Blizzard Talks Cataclysm at GDC 2011

January 31, 2011 -

Organizers of the Game Developers Conference revealed more happenings during its 2001 event including new lectures and details on the Game Developer Challenge. Blizzard Entertainment's Tom Chilton (game director, Cataclysm expansion and lead designer on Burning Crusade and Lich King) will deliver a presentation called "Remaking the World of Warcraft through Cataclysm." The presentation details what approach the design team took when creating the expansion, including what does and does not work when trying to recreate and revitalize existing content.

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Activision Takes Aim at World of StarCraft Mod

January 19, 2011 -

Correction:An earlier version of this story erroneously reported that Blizzard / Activision had served the maker of the World of StarCraft mod with a "Cease and Desist" letter. This was not the case, and we have corrected the record, headline, and story below to reflect that. Apologies to all parties involved. Corrected story below: 

Activision has made a copyright infringement claim on YouTube, successfully getting a mod makers video removed from the service. The developer of World of StarCraft, an online StarCraft 2 MMO mod that combines the lore and gameplay elements of both games. Naturally the mod maker known only as "Ryan" is hurt and shocked by this action. Speaking at length on the mod's official forum, Ryan appeals to Activision to give him a break:

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BoneCraft: Orcs, Elves, and Sex

January 14, 2011 -

The creators of the x-rated game BoneTown, are setting their sights on a sci-fi fantasy world game called "BoneCraft." Announced at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) this week, BoneTown developer D-Dub Software takes aim at the fantasy MMO market with a risqué game involving humans, elves, orcs, "BoneTown-style fighting," and of course - sex..

BoneCraft is described by its developers as a "fantasy/sci-fi parody game that will appeal to both the adult gamers who have always loved BoneTown and to the legions of fans of the fantasy/sci-fi genre." Players will "be able to experience what has never been possible in other games of the genre— taking the action all the way to the bedroom." The game plays off the popularity of Blizzard's World of Warcraft and StarCraft games.

Saucy, naughty and NSFW. The CEO of D-Dub does his best to explain what the game is all about:

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World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Moves 4.3 Million Units in One Month

January 10, 2011 -

Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the third expansion for its popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game, has "sold through" more than 4.7 million copies in its first month of release. Blizzard claims that this milestone sets a new record for monthly PC-game sales. The numbers are based on "internal company records," digital distribution numbers, and "key distribution partners."

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm was simultaneously released in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Europe, Russia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand on December 7, and became available in Korea and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau on December 9.

For more information visit www.blizzard.com/games/cataclysm.


Game Addiction Author At Odds With College Colleagues

January 6, 2011 -

A Herald-Tribune article details the odd work situation that Ryan Van Cleave finds himself in since writing his book, "Unplugged: My Journey Into the Dark World of Video Game Addiction." The topic of his book, game addiction, does not sit well with some faculty and students at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., where he teaches English and writing, because the school has close ties with the field of video game development.

The article describes him as somewhat heretical, because the school teaches computer animation, comparing him to a Hershey employee warning consumers not to eat chocolate.

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GameStop Enjoys Record Holiday Season

January 6, 2011 -

Video game retailer GameStop reported record sales of $3.02 billion for the nine-week holiday season that ended on January 1. This marked a 5.4 percent increase over the same period last year, driven by Kinect sales, and "strong sell through" of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. The company also reported 32 percent growth in gift card sales during the month of December.

New hardware sales improved 7.4 percent based mostly on the successful debut of Microsoft's Kinect. New video game software sales increased 3.3 percent.

Play World of Warcraft Using Kinect

December 28, 2010 -

Researchers at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies have software that enables PC games to work with Microsoft's Kinect sensor. The software is called Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit (FAAST). It apparently emulates custom configured keyboard controls that are activated by body movements.

The most interesting part about this software can be seen in the video embedded in this story - it shows researchers playing World of Warcraft using the Kinect and the toolkit.

While the software is interesting for games, it may have other more practical uses such as "active gaming" to fight childhood obesity or "motor rehabilitation" for stoke victims.

Check out the video. For a technical overview of the software, check out ict.usc.edu.

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Report: Blizzard Dealt With Data Leak as Cataclysm Launched

December 8, 2010 -

While Blizzard was launching its biggest product of the year, behind the scenes it was having some serious problems with a data leak in China, according to a report on VentureBeat. According to that report, citing several news stories from MMOGameSite, Blizzard's release schedule and subscriber numbers were leaked from its China offices, and the general manager of the studio, Ye Weilun, was subsequently fired for it - allegedly.

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WOW Pet and Make-A-Wish Foundation

November 30, 2010 -

Blizzard let us know that it has released two new World of Warcraft pets in the Blizzard Pet Store: Lil’ Ragnaros and the Mookin Hatchling. The Moonkin Hatchling is of particular interest to us because 50 percent of the proceeds go towards the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Last year Blizzard did something similar with the Pandaren Monk and ended up raising an impressive $1.1 million USD for the organization dedicated to making sick kids' dreams come true. Each pet cost $10 from the Blizzard store. Here's more on the Moonkin Hatchling:

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George Mason Teacher Lectures on Game Addiction

November 17, 2010 -

A George Mason University teacher believes that society is blind to the permeation of videogame addiction in college students; a problem so widespread that she believes it is swelling the number of dropouts.

Demonstrating less tactfulness than Rush Limbaugh (yes, that was odd to write), Erica Jacobs kicks off her column by alluding that Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho’s addiction to Counter-Strike contributed to his actions, before recounting the tale a student of hers told about a roommate at school that became so addicted to World of Warcraft, he eventually dropped out.

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New WOW Companions on the Way

November 12, 2010 -

Blizzard Entertainment this week debuted two new World of Warcraft companions - and they do more than just follow you and are look cute. The new companions are the Lil' Ragnaros and the Moonkin Hatchlin. Announced at BlizzCon earlier this year, both will be just like the Pandaren Monk when they debut on the Pet Store: proceeds will go to charity. Here is more from Blizzard:

"They’re cute, they’re portable, and they’re coming to the Blizzard Pet Store. But before they arrive, we wanted to give you a sneak peek of our two newest companions: Lil' Ragnaros and the Moonkin Hatchling. As announced at BlizzCon, the Moonkin Hatchling will follow in the charitable footsteps of the Pandaren Monk, with sales helping to benefit a good cause. More details, including the availability date and specific plans for the charity partnership, will be announced in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned!"

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World of Warcraft Blamed for Teen Murderers' Actions

October 30, 2010 -

Video games are the focus of a murder involving two teen boys from British Columbia. In March 2010 two teenage boys from British Columbia (18 and 16 years old) raped and killed an 18-year-old girl named Kimberly Proctor. The description of the crime is horrific: after the crime, the two boys mutilated and burned the body under a bridge.

Later the younger of the two alleged murderers bragged about the murder in World of Warcraft to a friend. He bragged about the crime to his friend and sent him newspaper clips detailing the crime. Naturally, the media wants a reason, and World of Warcraft has become a target.

The headline from CTV News gives you an idea where this is all heading: "Teens moved from online violence to real-life murder."

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WOW Romance Spurs Felony Charge

September 22, 2010 -

An underage World of Warcraft player’s dalliance with a fellow female player resulted in the arrest of a 35-year old Lowell, Michigan woman.

Angie L. Jenkins was arrested after traveling to Amherst, New York on June 11 to meet a 16-yeard old boy, who she ended up having sex with in a parked car. Jenkins, according to the Buffalo News, is believed to be the first woman charged in Western New York with using the Internet to entice a minor into sexual activity.

The two met while playing WOW in 2009, and both initially lied about their age, with the boy claiming he was 20 and Jenkins saying she was 21. At a later date the boy confessed to being only 15 (at that time), which Jenkins said didn’t matter. Jenkins reportedly kicked off discussions about meeting in real life and also “initiated the sexual contact” once they did meet.

Once the FBI uncovered Jenkins’ WOW screen name, and provided a subpoena to Blizzard, they were provided with her name, address and telephone number.

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Chinese Gamers to Feel Lich King Wrath at Month’s End

August 24, 2010 -

Blizzard and Chinese game operator Net Ease will officially launch the World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King just a few short weeks after it was finally approved in the Asian country.

According to a joint press release from Blizzard and Net Ease, the expansion will go live in mainland China on August 31, almost two years after it was launched (November 2008) in Europe and North America.

Net Ease CEO William Ding stated, “We are fully prepared on all fronts to provide great service and support to all of the new and returning players throughout China, and we look forward to welcoming them to Northrend.”

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Blizzard Wins $88M from Girl Operating WOW Private Servers

August 18, 2010 -

In case you missed it, World of Warcraft developer Blizzard recently scored a whopping $88,594,539 judgment against a company that was operating and charging players to access World of Warcraft emulator servers.

The ruling was handed down on August 10 by the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California and targeted Alyson Reeves, who was operating under the business name of ScapeGaming. The huge dollar figure was calculated by combining the $3,052,339 the defendant received from users of her service via Paypal, statutory damages of $85,478,600 (calculated by multiplying ScapeGaming’s 427,393 users times the statutory minimum of $200 per “act of circumvention and/or performance of service”) and another $63,600 in attorney’s fees.

Additionally, if Reeves has trouble paying, she will see post-judgment interest accumulate at the “rate provided by law” until the entire sum is recovered.

Court documents reveal that up to 32,000 players were using the organization’s servers each day.

A statement from Blizzard on its victory read:

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Skulls Removed, Blood Changed for Chinese Lich King

August 17, 2010 -

While the Chinese Ministry of Culture finally gave the go-ahead for the not-too-distant release of the World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King, a taste of some changes Blizzard had to make to models in the game are detailed on a website dedicated to Chinese gaming.

A handful of images appearing on ChinaGame.178.com show the removal of mostly skulls and bones from models in the approved version. Another image also appears to indicate that sprites used to animate blood loss and/or splattering were changed from red to green.

In the images below, original models are on the left while the purported Chinese-approved modifications are on the right.

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A Possible Future Where World of Warcraft is Free

July 1, 2010 -

In a PC Gamer interview Blizzard said that it may, at some point, consider making World of Warcraft free. Blizzard's Tom Chilton said the company is open to considering different subscription models for the MMO based on a number of factors including external or internal competition in the MMO space. This could include the other secret MMO project the company is working on, serious competition from another company or a change in the space itself.

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WOW Players Get StarCraft II for Free - in South Korea

June 28, 2010 -

If you're a World of Warcraft subscriber you will get StarCraft II for free.. if you live in South Korea. Blizzard's promising RTS sequel is the greatest thing since sliced bread in the region, so the company has decided that WOW faithful deserve a reward. According to an IGN report Blizzard announced the news at a recent StarCraft II event in Seoul, South Korea to the delight of fans. The deal allegedly lasts as long as a player’s World of Warcraft account is active.

Lead producer Chris Sigaty said during the event that the move was "a way of giving something back to such a supportive and skilled community of players."

While this is a kind gesture on Blizzard's part, it is also a very clever way of further driving subscriptions for World of Warcraft. It would be fair to say that the StarCraft franchise enjoys ridiculous levels of popularity in the region, with shows dedicated to the game, multi-million dollar competitions televised on TV and Internet Cafes in the country driven by consumers who want to play.

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Activision: 70 Percent of Income Comes From Non-Console Games

June 22, 2010 -

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said that he is confident that the company's online strategy will help it to weather the storm as sales models shift from disc-based to digital. He also added that 70 percent of the company's operating profit comes from "non-console based video games."

For a better understanding of what that means, a quote:

"Today, probably 70 percent of our operating profit comes from non-console-based video games. So, while you might see a month-to-month change or volatility against expectations, that doesn't really get us too concerned." Operating income for Activision's January-March 2010 quarter alone was $511 million.

While one might want to tie that number to DLC sales from games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, but a spokesperson for the company told Gamasutra that Kotick's statement doesn't include console based content of any kind. Maryanne Lataif, VP of corporate communications for Activision Blizzard, told Gamasutra in a phone call that "non-console-based video games" means just that.

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Getting Real: Blizzard's Real ID

June 15, 2010 -

Blizzard has announced Real ID, which it calls a "completely voluntary and optional level of identity that will keep players connected across all of Battle.net." The first game to get support for Real ID will be World of Warcraft.

The idea is to give Battle.net users a way to connect with real friends using real names and give them a means to communicate and share independent of the Blizzard game they might be playing at the time. Your Real ID friends will appear under their "real-life names" on your friends list, when chatting, communicating in-game, or viewing a character's profile. Real ID friends can also see who's on each other's Real ID friends list, making it easy for players to connect with other people they might know.

For World of Warcraft players this allows for cross-realm and cross-game chat - for example, when you friend is play StarCraft 2 you can harass him or her while in World of Warcraft.. And when you "friend" someone once you will see all the characters they have created in Blizzard games to date. Apparently this will even include "future games" someone might be playing like betas and beta content.

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Numbers Game: China’s The9 Invests in Red 5 Studios

March 22, 2010 -

Chinese game developer and operator The9 Limited has entered into an agreement with U.S. online game developer Red 5 Studios that will see the former acquire a “majority interest” in the latter for approximately $20.0 million.

The9 previously operated World of Warcraft in China, before losing the WOW license to its Chinese rival NetEase. The9 still operates games such as FIFA Online 2 for Electronic Arts, in addition to its own games, such as World of Fighter and Atlantica. In its most recently reported quarter, The9 reported a 94.0 percent decrease in revenues to approximately $3.7 million U.S., versus the same period from a year earlier. It cited the loss of its WOW license, which expired on June 7, 2009, as the main reason for the drop.

Given that Red 5 is made up of former executives and game developers from WOW-creator Blizzard Entertainment, the deal seems to make a lot of sense, at least on paper. Red5, however, says that it “can’t tell you" what it's working on.

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Andrew EisenI imagine will see similar promotions like "Buy Mario Kart 8 get a download code for one of these specific games" but almost certainly not for all of its (however you would define) biggest releases.07/31/2014 - 11:24am
MaskedPixelanteI wonder if Nintendo is going to be doing "buy one get one free" promos for all their biggest releases going forward.07/31/2014 - 10:48am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/special-report-retail-revolt-over-pc-code-strippers/013614007/31/2014 - 8:27am
ZippyDSMleeWouldn't they be able to afford and get done in a timely manner a general gba emluator for the 3DS? It seems to me if they want to make money off sales they need to do it.07/31/2014 - 7:25am
Sora-ChanAmbassador program, that's what I was looking for. Anyway the other games that have been made no longer exclusive to the early adopters got updates in their software. It'll only be a matter of time more than likely for the GBA to get the same treatment.07/31/2014 - 5:35am
Sora-ChanI might be naming it incorrectly when I say "founder" i mean the program for earlier adopters.07/31/2014 - 5:34am
Sora-Chanthe 3DS's GBA emulator was a rush job due to the founder program. No other GBA titles have been released on the 3DS yet. If/When they do get around to it, they'll more than likely update the emulation software.07/31/2014 - 5:32am
Zenemulator...it's not just a slap job that makes "some" work..they do it for each which is why they work so well. I would rather have the quality over just a slap job.07/30/2014 - 5:48pm
ZenMatthew there is a difference between "worked" and "accurate". You play the Nintendo VC titles they play as damn close to the original as possible. The PSP would just run them as best they could, issues and all. And Masked...EACH VC title has their own07/30/2014 - 5:48pm
MaskedPixelanteOnce again, the 3DS already HAS a GBA emulator, it just can't run at the same time as the 3DS OS.07/30/2014 - 4:54pm
Matthew Wilsonyou cant street pass in ds mode ether, and if moders can make a gba emulator that runs very well on the psp as I understand it. you are telling me that Nintendo devs are not as good as moders?07/30/2014 - 4:49pm
Zenperformance. Halo 1 and 2 worked great because they actually did custom work on each of them...just like Nintendo does now lol07/30/2014 - 4:08pm
Zenexisting hardware while the GBA has to be emulated completely. Same reason the 360 couldn't run most Original Xbox games correctly, or had issues because they just did "blanket approach" for their emulation which led to game killing bugs or horrible07/30/2014 - 4:07pm
ZenSora/Matthew: It's not just Miiverse, but the whole idea of streetpass and things like that would be affected if the OS is not running. And just because a 3DS game can be downloaded and run does not mean that GBA can as easily. Those 3DS games use the07/30/2014 - 4:06pm
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, How is that different from every other credit card company targeting high school and college students?07/30/2014 - 1:40pm
Sleaker@EZK - I think some people are concerned beacuse it's a predatory technique targetted toward younger people that don't understand on top of offering the worst interest rates of any retailer around.07/30/2014 - 11:33am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/07/30/europe-gets-long-detained-shin-megami-tensei-4-at-cut-price/ "Sorry you had to wait a year for SMT4, would a price cut make it sting less?"07/30/2014 - 10:29am
NeenekoI would hope not. Though it is not unheard of for store specific cards to be pretty good.07/30/2014 - 8:17am
E. Zachary KnightDoes anyone, or at least any intelligent person, expect a retail branded credit card to be anything close to resembling a "good deal" on interest rates?07/30/2014 - 7:13am
SleakerGamestop articles popping up everywhere about their ludicrous new Credit card offerings at a whopping pre-approval for 26.9% APR07/29/2014 - 10:19pm
 

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