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Blizzard to celebrate 20th anniversary throughout 2011

Blizzard Entertainment celebrates its 20th anniverary this week and for fans of PC exclusive game titles there are few developers who have had as much influence over the industry as the team in Irvine, California. Blizzard have had. This week Blizzard launched a special web site to celebrate its 20th birthday.

At the moment the only thing on the site is a special video message from Blizzard co-founders Mike Morhaime and Frank Pearce thanking Blizzard fans for their support over the past two decades. It looks like the 20th anniversary site will have more content in the future, including interviews, a Blizzard timeline, a look at the developer's fan community and more.

Big Download's News Bits & Bytes - February 9

It sound like today was not a good day to be at Activision. We offer our sincere condolences for those who are now looking for new gigs today:
  • Steam has new updates for Clones and Railworks 2.
  • Blizzard has donated $75,000 to the Children's Hospital of Orange County Children's Foundation via a BlizzCon 2010 VIP dinner.
  • There are more hints that Raven Software is making a James Bond game.
  • Trion Worlds has announced that if you buy a retail copy of its fantasy MMO Rift from Wal Mart players will get the exclusive Shambler Hatchling pet.
  • Activision execs said today the First Strike DLC map pack for Call of Duty Black Ops will be released for the PC sometime before the end of March.
  • Just in case you were not sure, the new Bungie game from its new publisher Activision won't be released in 2011.

BlizzCon 2011 announced for October 21-22

BlizzCon has now become a truly annual event for developer Blizzard Entertainment. Since the first fan event was held in 2005 it has only skipped 2006 during its short history. Today Blizzard announced that the sixth BlizzCon event will be held on October 21-22 at its long time home of the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.

Fans can expect to see panels about current and upcoming Blizzard games at BlizzCon 2011 along with the spectacular costume contest, vendors, tournaments and more. It's likely that Blizzard will use BlizzCon 2011 to show off content from StarCraft II Heart of the Swarm and its possible that the show will debut the fourth commercial expansion pack for the MMO World of Warcraft. The biggest question surrounds the long-in-development action-RPG Diablo III. Could the game actually be finished by the time BlizzCon 2011 rolls around or will it still be incomplete in late October 2011?

Tickets for BlizzCon 2011 will be sold at a still unannounced date with pricing yet to be revealed. It's likely that tickets will quickly sell out when they are offered as they have for the past BlizzCons.

"Titan" is the code name for Blizzard's next MMO

A few weeks ago a "leaked" document hit the internet that is supposed to be Blizzard's future game release plans. While other web sites ran with this story we chose not to since Blizzard would not confirm this document to be for real and the source of the document was unknown. Now it looks like at least one part of the info contained in the leak was correct.

That part was the mention of "Titan" which Blizzard's Senior VP Frank Pearce admitted in a video interview with Destructoid was the name of Blizzard's next MMO project. It's likely that Titan is a code name rather than the game's actual title but that's still one more thing that's actually confirmed about this still mysterious project. About the only other things we know about the game is that it's not a sequel to World of Warcraft and it won't even be officially announced until at least 2012.

World of Warcraft Cataclysm has sales embargo broken by some Sweden stores

World of Warcraft Cataclysm is supposed to be sold at midnight tonight in various time zones but some lucky folks got their copy of Blizzard's MMO expansion on Saturday. Gamesindustry.biz (free registration required) reports that a retailer in Sweden started selling the expansion pack on Saturday.

That caused a couple of GameStop stores to do the same thing in order to complete. However those stores have since stopped selling the expansion and will now wait until the embargo expires at midnight. In any case, Blizzard won't actually turn on the online servers for the expansion pack until midnight tonight, making the early sales of the game somewhat moot. As we have mentioned before check out our sister site WoW Insider for all of your World of Warcraft Cataclysm launch needs.

World of Warcraft Cataclysm download pre-order and pre-load now available

As promised last weekend at BlizzCon 2010, Blizzard is now accepting pre-orders for the digital download version of World of Warcraft Cataclysm, the upcoming third commercial expansion pack for the hit MMO game. People who don't want to fool with going to a brick-and-mortar store to pick up a boxed copy can pre-order the game on Blizzard's web site.

After that happens you can also pre-load most of the Cataclysm expansion simply by logging into your World of Warcraft account and downloading the data in the background while you play. The expansion will unlock at 12:01 am Pacific time (3:01 am Eastern time) on December 7. By the way this is just for the regular edition of the expansion pack. If you want the new World of Warcraft pet and other items in the Collector's Edition of Cataclysm you will have to buy the physical boxed copy of the game.

Diablo 3 gameplay footage shows the Demon Hunter in action

There are very few games that we can honestly say excite us as much as Diablo 3. At the latest Blizzcon, the newest title in the venerable hack-'n-slash series was one of the belles of the ball, and a ton of info was released on a new hero: the Demon Hunter. Resembling the Rogue in a lot of ways, and the Sorcerer in others, the Demon Hunter is a throwback to the original Diablo series.

This trailer for the Demon Hunter shows off plenty of gameplay footage and almost no cinematics or scripted events. While there is a lack of UI that the player would normally be using, there's still plenty of information. The Demon hunter appears to primarily use fire and shadow as its elemental types, and can wield almost any ranged weapon, from bows to arrows. It can also dash around to reposition or avoid conflict, which makes it great for those that like to play keepaway with monsters. It does have a few close-range moves, such as the Fan Of Knives move from the Warcraft 3 Warden hero. There's also a few shots of quest acquisition and completion, breaking apart various physics objects, and new environments. The trailer is almost 19 minutes in length, but totally worth your time.

StarCraft II could ban achievement cheaters

There was a bit of a controversy earlier this month when some people complained that Blizzard banned them from playing the sci-fi RTS gameStarCraft II because those players used single player "trainer" programs. Blizzard sent out a response that said "players who opt to use any type of 3rd party hacks do so at their own risk."

However, it looks like Blizzard could go after some players that use cheats and hacks for other StarCraft II-related features in the future. In a interview with Shacknews conducted during BlizzCon 2010 this weekend, Blizzard's lead producer Chris Sigaty stated, " ... it is possible that we can identify people that use some cheat to get 100 achievements in a matter of seconds. We have the ability to go and look at that data and say that person is going to be banned or we'll take away all of their achievements." He added that players should beware of using any trainer program, saying, "The people releasing these hacks might be including keyloggers and other sorts of hacks on your system."

BlizzCon 2010 round-ups at WoW Insider and Joystiq

It's all over until, hopefully, next year. BlizzCon 2010 is history but the biggest fan devoted to one game developer will stick with the over 20,000 attendees and the approximately 100,000 people who bought and watched the streaming internet-DirecTV video coverage.

Of course the only place to go for all your BlizzCon 2010 World of WarCraft coverage was over at our sister site WoW Insider. You can head over there now to check out Blizzard'scurrent and future plans for the MMO, including more info on December's upcoming release of the Cataclysm expansion pack. Meanwhile our mothership Joystiq reports on all the Diablo III and StarCraft II action at BlizzCon, including some hands-on time with Diablo III's new Demon Hunter class, the game's PvP arena battles and StarCraft II's upcoming and unique custom maps.

World of Warcraft's fourth expansion will be "pretty f'ing awesome", says Blizzard

World of Warcraft players have about a month and a half before the third retail expansion for the MMO, Cataclysm, is released in stores and via download. But developer Blizzard, as one might expect, is already working on the fourth (so far untitled) expansion to the mega-popular PC game.

Game Informer chatted wih the game's senior producer John Lagrave at BlizzCon 2010 to ask about Blizzard's plans for the fourth expansion. He stated, "The thing we're trying to do in the next expansion is pretty f'ing awesome." Details are not yet being revealed of course, but Lagrave added, "We've now got a central idea [for the next expansion] that makes me happy and gets me excited, and it makes everyone else happy and excited." While that unnamed idea might or might not actually happen, he did say, "Will it top Cataclysm? I think it's pretty freakin' awesome. I'm really hopeful."
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