Thursday, June 21, 2012

Full Diablo III Refunds for South Korean Players

People waited years for Blizzard to release the next installment in its incredibly popular Diablo series Diablo III. Unfortunately, when the time finally came for that dream to become a reality for players, things didn't go so smoothly. The game's launch was plagued by overloaded servers, connectivity issues, excruciatingly long wait times and multiple crashes and errors that left many players feeling jaded and disheartened.

Blizzard heard the cries of its community, however, and jumped into action by furiously working on a patch to combat these problems. The patch has since been released and many of the problems have subsided, unless you live in South Korea, that is. Blizzard has recently confirmed that it will begin offering full refunds to Diablo III players in South Korea due to connectivity problems, crashes and slow connection speeds from overcrowded servers that are still tormenting the community in that country.

The problems are so bad in South Korea that the South Korean Fair Trade Commission went as far as launching an investigation last month after it was inundated with complaints from users affected by the problems. Even though Blizzard stated at that time that it wold not provide any compensation to the gamers, South Korean consumer protection laws state that users must be granted a refund for any product that has a problem not cause by the customer.

A new post on the Korean Diablo III site says that players who are less than level 40 will be able to submit for a full refund between June 25 and July 3. Any player who is less than level 20 can also return the game up to 14 days after purchasing it from this point forward. In addition to that, players will receive a free 30-day trial for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.

Blizzard did add additional servers to Korea earlier this month in an attempt to fix the issues faced in the country. Almost two-thirds of Diablo III  traffic in Asia comes from South Korea, but Blizzard misjudged the user volume when creating servers for the game.

Source: IGN - Blizzard Offers Full Diablo III Refunds in South Korea

Monday, June 11, 2012

MLG's Spring Championship - an eSports Benchmark

Major League Gaming's Spring Championship took place this past weekend in Anaheim, California and it is being seen as a major benchmark in the eSports world. eSports like Starcraft II are well known for being extremely popular in the east (specifically South Korea) but is being more recognized in the west, with the MLG Spring Championship being a big step in that process. With millions of viewers showing up and tuning in (MLG shows 4.7 million unique online viewers with a peak of 437,000 concurrent views, 20,000 live spectators, and a total of 5.4 million hours of video watched.) even well-established Korean Broodwar players like Flash and JaeDong have stated that this event is more than what they are used to.

"I got to talk to Stork, Flash, JaeDong, SoulKey, Bisu among others and unanimously everyone has said that the hype here at MLG and in America surpasses what they see in Korea... When I asked them to compare this to them playing in Korea in front of their stadiums, in front of the air hanger, on the beach when there were like 10,000 players there... because they were all Broodwar players and are so used to those large crowds... they still say that the crowds at MLG and in Anaheim have blown them away compared to what they have experienced in Korea." Slasher from

That is such a huge statement coming from these players because these guys are the stars that see the biggest crowds in Korea and even they are saying that this event is more impressive. MLGs success may have been due not only to Starcraft II (and the fact that Korean Broodwar legends were going to be competing) but also to other eSports games like League of Legends, Mortal Kombat and Soul Caliber V. Even with big eSports titles like Halo being dropped from the MLG event, the outcome was bigger than ever. This is big news for the development of eSports here in America.

I had the pleasure of watching several of the Starcraft II matchups and it was very competitive and entertaining. Several matches that went to the third round were nail-biting (yes, even eSports can be nail-biting). The most memorable for me was Stephano's loss to MarineKingPrime (MKP), Sase's victory over Stephano, and then of course the final of DongRaeGu (DRG) vs Alicia. It was awesome to see a Protoss player make it all the way to the championship round. I even enjoyed DRG vs MKP, even though DRG beat him 2-0.

The results of the Starcraft II championship are as follows:
1st: DongRaeGu (South Korea)
2nd: Alicia (South Korea)
3rd: MarineKing (South Korea)
4th: Sase (Sweden)

And the results of the KeSPA exhibition championship:
1st: Flash
2nd: Bisu
3rd: SoulKey / JaeDong

You can check out the results of the championship bracket here: MLG Spring Championship Results. These guys really are on a different level and I'm looking forward to more events like this one.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Best of E3 2012

E3, the greatest video game convention in the world, just wrapped up in California. The 4-day event was littered with video game debuts, live demos, teasers and some of the best games to hit the industry in years. I've never been to E3 (though it is on my bucket list) but I keep up with everything that goes on during the show as best as I can. There were some incredible games that were unveiled this year so I decided to pick my Best of E3 to show off what I think should be the most talked about games in the coming months.

Star Wars 1313

Star Wars 1313 is the newest game to hit the Star Wars franchise and man, does it look amazing! The title is derived from Level 1313, a subsection of the planet Coruscant where only the most ruthless of thugs, criminals and villains dare go. The game puts you in control of a deadly bounty hunter, allowing you to command an array of high tech weapons and gadgets to take down your foes. 

The game plays like a mix between Gears of War and the Uncharted series. You have stop-and-pop cover-based shooting mechanics (ala Gears) and movement and platforming puzzles (ala Uncharted). Players should really take to this game, even though the main character doesn't wield a lightsaber or utilize the Force, just like the highly popular game Star Wars Bounty Hunter that put you in control of the infamous bounty hunter Jango Fett. 

One of the biggest things that this game has going for it is the fact that the developers stress that you will not notice a graphical change when transitioning from a cut scene to the real game. And they're right. When the game was demoed, the only reason you knew the cut scene was over was because the HUD popped up on screen. It truly was beautiful. The game doesn't have a specified release date though it will be coming out for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC (most likely). 

The Last of Us

So, this game will be the sole reason I invest in a PlayStation 3. The game is exclusive to Sony's console and is a sort of post-apocalyptic survival-action game. The game puts you in control of Joel, a ruthless survivor traversing the Boston quarantine zone with Ellie, a 14-year-old girl who is tough as nails but too young to remember the world before it was destroyed. 

The game emphasizes stealth and critical decision making. Ammo is scarce and the AI will react accordingly. Brandish a gun at an enemy and watch them cower or panic, pull the trigger and hear the click of an empty clip and the AI will charge, knowing that you were bluffing. The best thing from the floor demo, however, is how Ellie plays. Instead of making the game one big escort mission, Ellie actually helps out, getting your back and distracting enemies while you move in for the kill. 

In the demo Joel and Ellie are making their way through an abandoned hotel that has some looters in it making camp. A fight ensues, though Joel is able to shoot most of the enemies. When the last one figures out Joel is out of ammo, he charges only to be hit in the head with a brick by Ellie. As he staggers, Joel moves in and takes the guy down. The best part is that none of it was scripted. Ellie reacted based on your decisions in the game which means that the next time you go through the level, things could turn out differently. 

The game is set for a 2013 release date exclusively on the PlayStation 3 and will definitely be a contender for Game of the Year. 

Beyond: Two Souls

If you liked Heavy Rain then you are going to love this one. Beyond: Two Souls is the next game to come from the Heavy Rain development team and promises to be very similar to Heavy Rain with a bigger emphasis on action. The story follows Jodie Holmes, a young woman who has been haunted by an invisible, powerful entity her entire life. Known only as "Aiden", the entity is able to interact with the physical world, follow Jodie's orders and communicate with the character. Oh, and it also plays as a second playable character.  

The biggest selling point here is definitely the graphics and the A-list talent behind the game. The graphics use the facial mapping that can be seen in L.A. Noire while A-list actress Ellen Paige will be voicing and modeling the character of Jodie. Basically, you play as Ellen Paige, which is definitely pretty sweet. This is another game that is influencing me to purchase a PS3 as it is also an exclusive. Expect this one out in 2013 as well. 

Watch Dogs

This game came completely out of nowhere and surprised everybody. Ubisoft really lit up the show floor when they not only officially announced the game but also showed actual gameplay footage, which looked amazing, by the way. The game is an open-world action game set to release on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in 2013. 

The gameplay focuses on hacking and surveillance as the game's protagonist, Aiden Pierce, can use any device tied to the game city's central operating system as a weapon against itself. This will definitely make for some interesting puzzle solving moments, but don't think that this game will be boring. The action was fluid and fast-paced and reminded me of a John Woo film with gunfights, hand-to-hand combat and jumping over car hoods (while simultaneously shooting a guy in the face, of course). Other than that not much is known about the game, though it is definitely on my Must Buy list. 

E3 was definitely a great show this year and these four games are only the tip of the iceberg. All of them were exclusive debuts for the show, aside from The Last of Us, though the gameplay demo was definitely a welcome addition. 2013 is shaping up to be an incredible year for the gaming industry and should see a revitalized interest in games and where they are headed in the near future. I just hope my wallet is ready for the next year because there are almost too many games coming to count. 
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