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World of Warcraft's gold rush has upended Blizzard’s economy

There has been an economic panic in World of Warcraft. On Feb. 6, Blizzard changed the rules, allowing players to exchange WoW Tokens for balance. That means that gold you earn or buy in World of Warcraft can now be used in any Blizzard property. This has caused wild fluctuations in the value of the tokens, the value of WoW gold and, by extension, the time WoW players spend earning that gold.

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The importance of streaming to e-sports

There are three key ingredients for a game or pastime to become a sport: playing, competing and viewing. From the first large-scale video game competition in the 1970s to the present day, e-sports have experienced a trajectory similar to offline sports. Indeed, the ability to play and compete are necessary steps in the transformation from game to sport. However, broadcasting and viewing are the crucial components to enable widespread adoption and popularity. Just as with offline sports, e-sports require these elements.

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The continued gold rush of virtual items in games

Since the acquisition of Twitch by Amazon for nearly $1 billion in late 2014, the broader public has been paying far more attention to the growing popularity of e-sports. Between advertising, sponsorships, media rights, merchandise and ticket sales, this market is expected to generate $463 million in revenue in 2016 alone. Beyond the obvious implications for virtual goods in gaming (i.e. players buying gear to improve their performance) is a secondary gray market that may be far larger — online gambling. Thus far, the most advanced of these markets has sprung up around the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO for short). The reason is that the game’s developer, Valve, introduced decorative virtual weapons known as “skins,” which players can acquire in the game and sell for real money on third-party platforms (outside of the gaming environment). By 2015, this dynamic had given rise to an active gambling market comprising more than 3 million people wagering $2.3 billion worth of skins.

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'WoW' in-game markets are going crazy after Blizzard changed this item

World of Warcraft's in-game markets are going insane after Blizzard changed how WoW Tokens work. Blizzard bridged the gap between some of its most popular games Monday, allowing players to use World of Warcraft's in-game currency to purchase WoW Tokens, convert them to funds, and then purchase Overwatch lootboxes, Hearthstone card packs and other Blizzard game items on the shop. The cost of WoW Tokens fluctuates with World of Warcraft's in-game economy, and increased demand for these Tokens has cause their prices to skyrocket. The market for WoW Tokens works like this: Players buy WoW Tokens from Blizzard for $20 and put them up for sale on the World of Warcraft auction house. World of Warcraft players then purchase WoW Tokens on the auction house with in-game gold. With a WoW Token, players choose to either add 30 days of WoW game time to their account or add $15 to their balance.

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'Civilization VI' as an eSport? One of the World's Top Teams Is Trying It

Were I to make a list of games that seemed ill-suited to the blossoming world of eSports, Sid Meier's Civilization series would probably rank near the top of the pile. It's certainly fun to play and critics (including Motherboard) are merrily shoveling accolades on the freshly released Civilization VI, but watching matches is a bit like watching civilizations advance through their various stages in real time. By the time the person I'm watching reaches the space age, I'm wondering if I'd be having more fun banging a club against the wall of a Neolithic cave. But Team Liquid, the influential eSports team best known for its successes in StarCraft 2 and League of Legends, begs to differ. Yesterday Team Liquid owner Steve "LiQuiD112" Arhancet announced the creation of a new eSports team for Firaxis Games' Civilization VI, filling a void in the eSports scene with all the surprise of a monolith materializing before squabbling primates. And just like that, a competitive eSports scene is born, although the big question is how many players will follow Liquid down this path.

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Tech companies and the global rise of e-sports

Beyond advertisers and gamers, the real money up for grabs here is for the tech companies that can successfully bring these competitions to a worldwide audience in a mainstream media format. With the industry projected to generate more than $1.9 billion in revenue by 2018, there are various rising tech players to watch as this fierce competition heats up.

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The complete beginner’s guide to League of Legends

Maybe this will help me get started :)

League of Legends is one of the most popular video games in the world. It is played by over 100 million active users every single month. League of Legends is also the most popular esport. At the 2015 League of Legends World tournament, a five-week tournament that is the League of Legends equivalent of the UEFA Champions League, over 334 million viewers tuned in. The finals, the League of Legends equivalent of the Super Bowl, brought in 36 million unique viewers. League of Legends, often just called League or LoL by fans, is widely loved despite its very complicated nature. When watching League, you need to understand the basics before you can learn the complicated stuff. The goal with this guide is to start with the simplest of ideas and progress forward into deep details. After reading just one section, you should have a better understanding of what League is, and after reading them all, you won’t miss a beat!

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Reflections of a 50-ish gamer: How I rediscovered video games, and what I learned in the process

...unlike pundits who see gaming as a disengagement from society, I see it as social exploration. Where else can you get a first-person view of the life of an awkward teenage girl, told not through the narrative of a film, but experienced first person as she lives out her virtual life? Where else can one become an augmented human, making choices about upgrades one moment, and facing moral dilemmas about using them the next? The answer is only in games. Games encourage agile thinking by forcing people into situations they would never face in the real world — situations that threaten their life, puzzle their mind or transport them into a future that might not be what their rational mind imagines. If social movements want others to understand their plight, they should invest in game development. Create experiences not sermons.

Finally, as virtual and augmented reality matures, these experiences will become more mentally connected, more immersive and more pervasive. If we can use today’s games to become better thinkers, more self-aware, more mindful of the perspectives of others, virtual and augmented reality will potentially take that to a new level. Rather than just our fingers and eyes as limited conduits between mind and machine, these new technologies will take us in completely. They swallow the real world and replace it — or they overlay it, creating a digital sixth sense that provides new forms of access to the world around us.

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The explosive growth of the 300-person “megagame”

For something a bit different.

There’s a new kind of hybrid game doing the rounds that marries the large scale politicking of live-action roleplaying (LARPs) with the focused, often crunchy mechanics of an economic game. It’s played with dozens, even hundreds of players, it takes a whole day, and it has a clumsy sobriquet that perfectly encapsulates its grand ambition: the “megagame.”...Watch the Skies, only one kind of megagame, but so far the most popular. It’s enjoying replays and reinterpretations everywhere from Aberdeen to Australia. If your personal preference isn’t for the extraterrestrial, other megagames cover everything from military scenarios to Machiavellian historical intrigue. What they all have in common is a focus on social dynamics, independent referees who guide play and introduce new events, and a sense of scale that puts Diplomacy to shame.

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'League of Legends' boasts an amazing 100 million monthly players

*If there was any doubt before today, League of Legends is definitely the most popular PC game in existence. Over 100 million players are logging into League of Legends every month, Riot Games co-founders Marc Merrill and Brandon Beck told Polygon in an in-depth interview. The last time Riot Games released player numbers was back in 2014 when 67 million people were playing every month. The second most-popular MOBA game, Dota 2, revealed a player base that's 13 million-strong in June, a fraction of League's numbers. The fact that League has grown so much surprises its creators._
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