Sunday, January 26, 2014

Doing Battle on the Net

It’s no secret that I play World of Warcraft®. I’ve blogged about it fairly often. As much as I enjoy it as a fun distraction from real life and having to be a “responsible adult”, there are days when I don’t log in to the game. In fact, there are sometimes stretches of several days that I don’t play either because I’m too busy, too tired, or just feel like I need a break from it. One of the minor annoyances is the need for two-factor authentication to log on. It’s a necessary thing due to the fact that WoW accounts have been known to be hacked (which is kind of sad, but that’s a topic for another day). Along with two-factor authentication, there is also the occasional (usually on Tuesdays) software update that can take awhile to download causing me to have to wait to login.

A couple of months ago, Blizzard Entertainment released the beta version of what the call the App. I decided to download it and it’s proved useful for being able to login faster and also for getting updates for WoW. It also has another nifty feature; it allows management of all Blizzard games that are part of The thing is, I only played WoW, so that part wasn’t that useful to me - until about a week or or two ago.

As you can see in the screenshot, I have access to WoW, Diablo III, Starcraft II, and the newest edition to the Blizzard catalog, Hearthstone. Of that list, I currently only have purchased and subscribed to WoW; D3 and SC2 are, for me, the Starter Editions and Hearthstone is free to play and currently still in open beta.

I’ve set the App to save my login credentials, including my Authenticator, for quick access. Since it’s only installed on my PC, I’m not worried about security; if I log in from anywhere else, I still have two-factor authentication. I can launch any of the listed games directly from the app and also go directly to my account management page to add game time for WoW. It’s very convenient.

This, however, is not just a review of the App; it’s also a about how Blizzard is very slick in getting their hooks in me for more money.  As I mentioned earlier, sometimes I just don’t feel like playing WoW. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t also get bored and feel like playing a game of some kind. This is where the App got me. Since, directly from the launcher, I could download the Starter Editions of Diablo and Starcraft, I did just that. The first of the two I installed was Starcraft II; as a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game, it’s OK. It is really no different than other games I’ve played, including the original Warcraft: Orcs & Humans from back in the early 1990s. As such, I doubt I’ll be paying the $39.99 for the full version; RTS just doesn’t appeal to me that much. Diablo III, on the other hand, has intrigued me.

There is one small problem with playing Starter Editions of games - you can only go so far. After only about a week I’ve already taken the one character I created in D3 as far as he can go without buying the full version. That being said, I’m now faced with the following options: a) re-play the game with a different class, b) pay $39.99 for the full version so I can continue leveling and questing with the Barbarian I already have, or c) some combination of a and b such as trying out the other classes using the Starter Edition before actually buying the full version. I guess we’ll see, but option c is the most likely scenario.

As for Hearthstone, Blizzard’s new digital collectible card game - I’ll have to get back to you on that. I’ve only logged in once and got disconnected in the middle of a game, so I’ve not had a chance to really form an opinion on that just yet. In the meantime, if you’re interested you can read this review of Hearthstone beta on ArsTecnica.

Just remember this; games are great, but don’t get so caught up in playing them that you forget that there are other things in life besides gaming; go do other stuff sometimes.

~ JC