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Blizzard Cuts Back Heroes of the Storm Development

Things are not looking good for Blizzard's MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, a title that blended together all of the company's games like Overwatch, Diablo, Starcraft, and World of Warcraft. The president of Blizzard, J. Allen Brack, and chief development officer, Ray Gresko, announced today that developers are being pulled from the game and being transferred to different projects within the company. 

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In a press release that was made public today, Brack and Gresko said that it was a difficult decision to make and it will ultimately impact the future of the game. 

“Over the past several years, the work of evaluating our development processes and making hard decisions has led to new games and other products that we’re proud of,” Blizzard said. “We now have more live games and unannounced projects than at any point in the company’s history. We’re also at a point where we need to take some of our talented developers and bring their skills to other projects. As a result, we’ve made the difficult decision to shift some developers from Heroes of the Storm to other teams, and we’re excited to see the passion, knowledge, and experience that they’ll bring to those projects. This isn’t the first time we’ve had to make tough choices like this. Games like Diablo II, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Overwatch, and more would not exist had we not made similar decisions in the past.” 

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This Isn't the End for Heroes of the Storm

The company assured they will continue development of the title, supporting the game with new characters and events, but the time between these updates will increase. According to the two executives, this is to set up Heroes of the Storm for long-term sustainability. 

Unfortunately, this news also means that Blizzard had to cancel both of their planned eSports events for Heroes of the Storm. The pro-level tournament, Heroes Global Championship, and the collegiate level contest, Heroes of the Dorm will get the axe. 

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Tough Call for Blizzard

“[A]fter looking at all of our priorities and options in light of the change with the game, the Heroes Global Championship and Heroes of the Dorm will not return in 2019,” the press release read. “This was another very difficult decision for us to make. The love that the community has for these programs is deeply felt by everyone who works on them, but we ultimately feel this is the right decision versus moving forward in a way that would not meet the standards that players and fans have come to expect.” 

It is a shame that this is the beginning of the end for a game that many enjoyed so much. Blizzard is making a responsible move by reallocating employees internally rather than laying people off. The MOBA space has plenty of competition in today's market and it looks like Heroes of the Storm couldn't keep up with games like League of Legends and DOTA. We here at Gigamax will keep a close eye on these deveopments, so be sure to check back here at GigamaxGames.com for all the latest details. 

Source: news.blizzard.com/en-us/blizzard/22833558/heroes-of-the-storm-news

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The Overwatch League Revolutionizing eSports

The Overwatch League Revolutionizing eSports

The first Overwatch League championships are over and London Spitfire took home the trophy and the $1 million prize. Gigamax Games was lucky enough to be in attendance for both days of this incredible eSports event. Overwatch by itself has not only revolutionized the "Games as a Service" business model but Blizzard Entertainment and the Overwatch League completely transformed eSports in a massive way.

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London Spitfire - Overwatch League Champions

eSports isn’t a new concept. The company, Major League Gaming (MLG) was founded in 2002 but was recently purchased by Activision Blizzard in 2016. Gamers have always had a competitive streak in them since High Scores first made an appearance in arcade games. However, the world has had an extremely difficult time taking competitive gaming seriously.

eSports Credibility Rises 

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London Spitfire and Philadelphia Fusion Take The Stage

The Overwatch League just broke the mold and helped completely transform the way the public views competitive gaming. With the minimum league salary set at $50,000, selling out the Barclays Center in New York City two nights in a row, and broadcasting live on ESPN, Disney and ABC family networks gave the concept of eSports an incredible amount of credibility. Furthermore, it shows that these competitions can resemble a professional organization and sporting league. What’s even more astonishing is that all of this notoriety is surrounding a single game, Overwatch. 

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This is not to say that other organizations haven't hosted impressive, international eSports tournaments. In 2013, MLG hosted the Winter Championships and offered up a hundred and seventy thousand dollars in prizes. More recently, Epic Games unveiled the Summer Skirmish series. This 8-week series is offering gamers a chance to compete for a total of $8,000,000 in prize money. Yet, the Overwatch League is unmatched in creating an eSports environment that rivals conventional sporting events.

A Year of Hype

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Jeffrey Kaplan, VP of Blizzard Entertainment and Game director of Overwatch

Kicking off in January of 2018, The Overwatch League closely resembled other professional sporting leagues. The MLB, NBA, NFL all develop throughout an entire year. They gradually build the hype until the end of a season when the two best teams meet in an epic showdown. This is exactly what The Overwatch League achieved, and was incredibly successful in doing so. For nearly seven months, fans tuned in to watch the matches and developed their favorite teams and players until The Overwatch League finals came along and the true winner was crowned.

The Video Game Community Is Spectacular 

When the Gigamax Games crew pulled up to the Barclays Center, it at first felt like attending any other concert or sporting event. A massive amount of people all working their way into a gigantic building to watch talented people perform for the crowds' entertainment. What stood out was the people. Instead of rowdy sports fans or enthusiastic concertgoers, this group felt familiar.

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The Overwatch League Community

All these gamers ended up grouping up together as if guided by an invisible force. The gaming community can be incredibly friendly when the toxicity of anonymity is removed from the equation. Everyone felt like a family. No matter if they were rooting for the London Spitfires or Philadelphia Fusion, the entire crowd was rooting for the sport to succeed. The Overwatch League was the event that brought not only like-minded gamers together but forced the public to take note of this massive eSports movement that’s taking place.

As fans get ready for a Season 2 of The Overwatch League, more teams are expected to enter the competition. The massive success of its inaugural season and other countries and U.S. states interest in starting their own teams is not only a great sign for The Overwatch League but for eSports as a whole. There's no telling what the future will hold.

Be sure to stay up to date with the entire video game industry, eSports included right here on Gigamax Games.com.

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Cosplay at Overwatch League Finals Barclays Center NY

The last battles of the Overwatch League Finals have been fought. Its outcome sparked both cheers and tears, filling the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. London Spitfire's took home the trophy for the first, in what will hopefully be a long history of championship rounds.

Cosplay at Overwatch League Finals Barclays Center NY

While there was plenty of hype surrounding the competitive superstars and their superb skills, the other side of Overwatch's fandom made a strong appearance at the finals. The spectacular cosplay highlighted the awe and dedication that has made the series so famous. These cosplayers spend countless hours putting together costumes to show their love for the colorful cast of characters the game has to offer.

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Image Source: https://bit.ly/2Ajlweq

Cosplay Spotted at Overwatch League Finals

Gigamax Games was lucky enough to attend the final matches of the Overwatch League. Besides the impressive scale of this massive video game tournament, the cosplay stood out.

The arena was packed full of dedicated fans and you didn't have to go far to find someone dressed up in a very accurate representation of their favorite hero. One of the many amazing Cosplays we saw was a Widowmaker donning an outfit that replicated the character's Black Lily skin. It is immediately evident that a ton of commitment was put in to accurately portray the purple villain. With body paint, an elegant dress, high heels, and even the signature sniper/automatic rifle this Cosplay was a perfect example of one fans love for Overwatch.

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One Shot, One Kill

Other Cosplayers made full suits of armor for their costumes, dedicating time and effort to make sure every piece matched up to its virtual counterpart. Another fantastic cosplay we saw roaming the halls of the Overwatch League Finals was a Brigitte dressed in the colors of the New York Excelsior's. Of course, cosplaying comes with its fair share of struggles, mainly being surrounded by people who want a picture with the character and to learn about the hard work that went into making the costume. But this only goes to show how integral Cosplayers are to the Overwatch League experience and getting fellow fans excited for the festivities.

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Rally To Me!

An insanely detailed portrayal of Junkrat made an appearance. This would make any fan stop and double take to make sure the fictional Australian criminal wasn't there. Blizzard certainly showed these fans love on the final day of the event, pulling some of the best Cosplayers there during one of the intermissions between matches.

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BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!

What's Next?

With the Overwatch League Finals come and gone, we already can't wait to see what Blizzard has planned for next year's grand event. More importantly, we are hyped to see what Cosplayers put together for their costumes, hopefully, we'll finally see an Orisa!

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Wrecking Ball Revealed as Overwatch’s Next Hero

Wrecking Ball Revealed as Overwatch's Next Hero

Not long after Blizzard teased Hero 28 for Overwatch on Twitter, the company revealed that the next character would be an adorable chubby cheeked hamster named Hammond (AKA Wrecking Ball). Along with the big reveal, Blizzard announced that he is available on the Public Test Realm for any PC Overwatch gamers. Those interested in this lovable rodents fascinating backstory should definitely check out his origin video below.

As Blizzard showed off in the teaser trailer leading up to the reveal, Wrecking Ball has the ability to transform himself into a ball and roll around the battlefield to increase movement speed. While in ball form, he can launch a grappling hook that tethers him to surfaces and allows the player to swing around the battlefield and inflict damage much like a real wrecking ball. Outside of wrecking ball form, he pilots a spider-like mech that has Quad Cannons that are able to tear through the competition.

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"Insert Miley Cyrus Quote Here"

Wrecking Ball's next ability is Adaptive Shields. This provides bonus protection for each enemy in the vicinity of the hero when Adaptive Shields is activated. Another ability, Piledriver, allows the hamster to slam into the ground from a good distance up in the air and injure as well as launch other players that are in his blast zone. Finally, his ultimate Minefield lays out a generous field of explosives that explode when an enemy walks near them. Along with the video, Blizzard detailed Wrecking Ball's story on their website.

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AWWWWW! He think's he's D.Va!

As mentioned above, players that own a copy of Overwatch on the PC can jump on Blizzard's Battle.net service and test the hero out right now. A new update has been released on the PTR which fans can get to by clicking the dropdown menu in the Overwatch tab of  Battle.net and selecting Public Test Realm. Currently, there's no word on how long the updates will remain on the test server but if it's anything like the other major character additions, it will be 3-4 weeks.

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Brigitte Shield Charges to Overwatch on March 20th

Brigitte Shield Charges to Overwatch on March 20th

The 27th Overwatch hero, Brigitte is heading to all platforms including PS4, Xbox One, and PC on March 20th. Blizzard announced this exciting news today (3/15/18) on Twitter along with an announcement post on their blog. Players that own a PC and want to try her right now, she is currently available on the Public Test Realm.

Blizzard is calling the new hero an "engineer with peerless armor constructing abilities," and she definitely shows her prowess when deployed on the battlefield. Her primary weapon is known as the Rocket Flail, which extends when used and can hit multiple heroes at the same time.

Along with Brigitte's flail, she also gets a deployable Barrier Shield, which like Reinhardt can protect allies immediately behind her. She also has the ability to throw Repair Packs to heal teammates, while her passive ability, Inspire, heals all nearby allies when she deals DPS.

Blizzard Picks Up The Pace

Brigitte was officially announced by Blizzard only a couple of weeks ago and right beforehand they revealed a lore database that will host content revealing the backstory of many of their popular heroes. To start Blizzard gave some more insight into how Torbjörn lost his arm in a tear jerking letter to his wife. With the new heroes imminent arrival, we'll be sure to show her off in action the day she becomes available to the public, so don't forget to check out our Stream Page so you know exactly when you'll have a chance to see this exciting new hero!

Brigitte Abilities

  • Rocket Flail – Brigitte's melee weapon has an extended range, enabling her to strike multiple enemies with a single swing.
  • Repair Pack – Brigitte throws a Repair Pack that can heal an ally. Any healing over that ally's maximum health provides them with armor instead.
  • Whip Shot – Brigitte throws her flail a long distance, dealing damage and knocking an enemy away from her.
  • Barrier Shield – Brigitte deploys a frontal energy barrier to absorb a limited amount of damage.
  • Shield Bash – Once her Barrier Shield is deployed, she can dash forward to stun an enemy.
  • Inspire – When she hits enemies with her flail, she also heals nearby allies over time.
  • Rally – She moves faster and provides all nearby allies with armor that lasts until it's removed by damage.
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Blizzard Adding Lore Database to Overwatch

Blizzard Adding Lore Database to Overwatch

Blizzard is hyping up fans with more than one new teaser this week. After their cryptic tweet detailing what everyone believes to be a new hero, the company is shifting its focus toward a new lore database that will offer insight into the stories behind the worlds favorite heroes. Blizzard "released" a letter Torbjörn wrote to his wife after suffering injuries on the battlefield and this is just the beginning.

The official Overwatch Twitter account revealed the information of a rather unsuccessful mission called "White Dome." Unfortunately, the operation didn't go as planned and an ambush led to Reinhart having to jump in and save Torbjörn after losing his arm.

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The Lost Arm and Lore

Blizzard later updated the story to include the letter that Torbjörn wrote to his wife, Ingrid, from the hospital after the failed mission. In the letter, he assures that all is well and even jokes about the situation that led to him receiving that neat and versatile claw arm.

"I know that by now you have gotten news of my injuries in our latest mission. While the descriptions may sound terrible, the doctors are quite sure I'll make a full recovery. Even Angela came to visit me! On the matter of my arm, I promise to make it my first priority to construct a suitable prosthesis that will make everyone forget that it was ever gone. If only Angela's dreams of tissue regeneration were a reality! I told her she should be working harder!" (http://bit.ly/2HK4CWa)

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The letter also includes a bunch of other details on the builders family and personal life. To see it in its entirety, the full lore entry is available on the Overwatch blog. Be warned, a tissue box may be needed while reading!

Currently, the "Story Update" that Blizzard released is part of a larger ongoing archive that gives players "secret clearance" to various art, videos, and stories. The company hasn't dedicated a section to the storytelling device as of now. However, with the fascinating tales behind the Heroes coming out rapidly it is expected they'll have a place soon for gamers to view them.

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Microtransactions Pay Off Big For Activision Blizzard

Microtransactions Pay Off Big For Activision Blizzard

Microtransactions are a huge source of revenue for the video game publisher Activision Blizzard. The company announced today in an earnings report that revenue from "in-game net bookings," which contains DLC sales, loot boxes, and in-app purchases on mobile games, reached $4 billion in 2017. The fourth quarter alone secured the company $1 billion for additional content sold.

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Around $2 billion of Activision Blizzard's revenue in 2017 came from in-game net booking's in their mobile subsidiary, King, which owns and operates Candy Crush. The other $2 billion came from Activision Blizzard's console and PC efforts, along with the rest of their mobile ventures like Hearthstone. These two revenue streams were pointed out by Daniel Ahmad, an industry analyst, on Twitter.

More Games, More Money

Call of Duty: WWII offers microtransactions that give players their own in-game currency, Call of Duty Points. These points can then be used to purchase in-game items like loot boxes that net players cosmetics for their avatars. Additionally, Activision recently launched the first paid DLC pack, Resistance, which is being sold at $14.99 USD. In Overwatch, players spend their money on loot boxes that offer a variety of different skins and other cosmetic items. World of Warcraft also offers a vast in-game economy allowing players to spend real-world money on mounts, pets, and a host of other items.

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The Trend Continues

Microtransactions are a growing trend throughout the gaming industry with many companies jumping on the bandwagon. EA recently suffered serious backlash with their title Star Wars Battlefront II, which players believed contained a very hostile microtransaction system.

Not every modern game contains a microtransaction system. However, it is becoming a major profit earner and difficult to ignore for many businesses in the industry. Especially when Activision Blizzard was able to put up numbers like the $4 billion in revenue earned. Hopefully, gamers can continue to fight toxic systems like the one EA tried to put in place and show developers what a proper loot box structure should look like.

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Overwatch Skins Update Arrives Soon See What’s Coming

New Overwatch Skins are Around the Corner

Tomorrow marks the launch of Blizzard's latest update to their wildly popular hero based shooter, Overwatch and it includes a ton of new looks for some of the most popular characters. Overwatch skins are some of the most sought-after collectibles in gaming, mainly because of their unique nature that not only looks nice but adds more depth to the heroes. Altogether there are 16 new skins for fans to collect and they can all be acquired through the Cosmetic Loot Boxes.

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McCree, Reaper, Junk Rat, Symetra, Orisa, Mei, Pharah, Hanzo, and Lucio are all getting new costumes that are not part of a larger set but still look incredible. Blizzard has yet to reveal the name of the new unique looks, although they typically they're pretty creative.

Meanwhile, Roadhog, Zarya, Torbjorn, Reinhardt, Mercy, and Doomfist are all receiving new skins based on other Blizzard IP's. The games that the updated skins are referencing include Diablo, World of Warcraft, and Starcraft. Fans of these series will all be delighted to see the hard work that went into detailing all of these skins that fit the characters perfectly.

New Skins Preview

Also included in the update is the latest addition to Overwatch's arenas, Blizzard World. This Disney World like theme park is the newest area where players can test their skills. Blizzard World is home to tons of homages to the game developer's greatest masterpieces and fans are sure to love all the references.

We're very excited to try our hand at rolling the newest skins tomorrow (1/23/18)! We'll be checking out the Overwatch skins update during the Gigamax PowerHour on Tuesday so if you're interested in seeing what the new update has to offer come stop by or check back after it drops for the video which will be located below.

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Overwatch League Is Here: Update and Details

Overwatch League Is Here: Update and Details

This is a two-part article on Blizzards groundbreaking Overwatch League. Find the overview of Blizzards official eSports league directly below and the patch notes are located at the bottom half of the article. 

Overwatch League Is Officially Here

A year in the making, the premiere eSports circuit for the Earth-shatteringly popular first-person shooter, Overwatch has begun. The Overwatch League is an incredible step forward for the eSports community. Blizzard poured an impressive amount of resources into this initiative in order to make it happen. Featuring over 100 players, the league is made up of gamers from all around the world. Boston, Dallas, Florida, Houston, London, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, and two locations in Los Angeles will all be hosting this immense competition.

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Stage 1, week 1 begins today, January 10th. Six teams will kick off this monumental eSports competition. The event will consist of six teams competing each day from Wednesday through Saturday until the first stage concludes on February 10th. This is an arduous competition but this challenge pays off in a big way. At the end of each stage, a $125,000 prize is waiting for the winning team. The Overwatch League champions will take home a whopping $1,000,000.

To keep up with all the action, fans can follow their favorite teams and watch all the matches on overwatchleague.com

Overwatch League Update for PC, PS4, Xbox One

With the Overwatch League making its debut, Blizzard released their Overwatch update on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Fans of the Overwatch League are going to be happy to hear that new skins based on their favorite leagues’ teams will be available. The patch includes a bunch of additional changes and bug fixes that some Zenyatta and Ana players might enjoy as well.

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Before jumping into all the changes included in the patch, Overwatch fans are in for quite a surprise. The new skins will not be available through loot boxes which has always been the norm. Instead, the new league skins can only be purchased with League Tokens.

Ranging from $5 for 100 Tokens to $100 for 2,600 Tokens, it will be quite pricey to buy the lot. Each skin will cost 100 Tokens. All the skins will cost $1,200 so it might be worth picking out your favorite teams and sticking with them. The good news is that players will automatically get 100 Tokens just for logging on while the first stage is active (Jan 10th - Feb 13th).

Character Changes

There are a few big changes coming to some characters as well and the main menu is getting an update, too. Target’s health bars will be visible to Zenyatta when Orbs of Discord and Harmony are used. Gamers will notice a new Overwatch League area in the main menu where league matches can be streamed. Console players will see some exciting changes as well. The communication wheel selections can be bound to a button and players will now be able to change the crouch mechanic to a press and hold command. Finally, Ana will have an additional setting for Friendly Aim Assist Strength to help players personalize the level of assistance when aiming at teammates.

A bunch of bug fixes is coming to the Overwatch League update, take a look at the official patch notes for additional information.

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Sources:

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/everything-you-need-to-know-about-overwatch-league/1100-6455961/

https://overwatchleague.com/en-us/

https://overwatchleague.com/en-us/schedule

 

Loot Box Madness: There’s A Right Way And Wrong Way

Loot Box Madness: There's A Right Way And Wrong Way

The loot box trend hit the gaming community hard. Nearly every new release, especially when it comes to multiplayer games seem to have embraced this worrisome trend. Popping up more and more, gamers are beginning to get used to seeing the option to purchase in-game currency to open up these mystery chests.  However, there is both a right way and wrong way developers can go about incorporating these controversial additions into their games.

UPDATE: EA is pulling the microtransactions. According to Kotaku, EA will be suspending all microtransactions after backlash from the gaming community.  Find the latest Breaking News at the bottom of this article.

The Overwatch Effect

When taking a look at one of the world's most popular first-person shooters, Overwatch, the loot boxes are a relatively welcomed addition. Only containing cosmetic items, players will never receive anything that will give them an advantage over other gamers. Even though they do cost real-world money, they are completely optional. Furthermore, every item that can drop can be unlocked by opening up normal loot boxes that the game gives people once a player reaches a new level.  

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The other spectacular feature that Overwatchs’ loot box systems allows the developer to do is offer all their additional content for free. There is absolutely no charge for any new characters, maps or anything else that Blizzard adds to the game and that benefits everyone involved. Even if a player never purchases a single loot box, they reap the rewards of Overwatch implementing their loot box system. Also, that same gamer that never spent a dime on loot box has the chance to unlock any skin, emote or tag the game has to offer. This is the right way to handle loot boxes.

Pay To Win

Two games, in particular, have caught fire from the video game community for their loot box practices. Starting with Shadow of War, the loot boxes are not necessary to complete the main story. Opening up their little mystery boxes have a chance to roll epic or legendary orcs that players can add to their army but these powerful orcs aren’t absolutely critical in order to progress. However, at the very end of the game (no spoilers), there’s a point where these epic orcs can cut down on hours of grinding. Without purchasing these special orcs, because honestly, that’s exactly what those loot boxes are, people need to spend dozens of hours grinding and dominating orc after orc to find a special ending.

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| BREAKING NEWS | Star Wars Battlefront II: EA Announcement 

Now moving over to the prime example of the wrong way to handle the loot box system with Star Wars Battlefront II. EA created an environment that completely favored those willing to spend money on loot boxes. Battlefield II loot crates offered in-game gun attachments or star cards that actually provided an advantage for players. Gamers that refused to purchase loot boxes wouldn't just be leaving a new skin, or a secret ending on the table, this time it will hold people back from having an enjoyable multiplayer experience. However, EA made an announcement on 11/16/2017 at 5:24pm on Twitter that they will be turning off all microtransactions on Star Wars Battlefront II. This is breaking news and it is expected EA will make a few more announcements regarding how they will be handing in-game purchases. Gigamax will be keeping a close eye on these developments so don't forget to stop by soon and see what's in store. 

Below The Gigamax Crew Offers Their Impression On The Loot Box Scandal 

Let's Not Set This Precedent 

There’s a right way and wrong way to handle the loot box situation. EA showed the worst part of the gaming industry with their loot box system. EA’s AMA on Reddit was an absolute disaster, avoiding questions and deleting comments, they know what they did. Battlefront was an absolute flop and it seems EA was trying to use the loot box system to ensure they made their money with this new game. Overwatch is an excellent example of how to handle the loot box situation, Battlefront II and Shadow of War is spitting in the faces of gamers everywhere. Businesses need to make money, but forcing people to buy in-game items with real-world money is not the right way to go about doing so.

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