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New options button in beta - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 19:30:00 EST
In the LK beta build that just went live tonight, build number 9805, there's a new Options button on the login screen, just above Cinematics, Credits, and Terms of Use. What lies behind its blue mystery?

Unsurprisingly enough, it contains some options that you might want to change before entering the game. Specifically, it has options for video resolution, video effect quality, and sound. For the most part, these are the same options currently available in-game. "Enable Reverb," "Headphone Mode," and "Death Knight Voices" have been added to the sound pane. "Disable Resize" has been added under "Windowed Mode" in the resolution pane; I'm not sure why you'd want to do that, though, unless you kept accidentally resizing the window (which I've never had an issue with, and I often play windowed).

The big innovation here (and yes, I realize innovations in option dialogs may not strike you as particularly interesting) is a master slider for video quality. Now you don't have to fiddle separately with terrain distance and ground clutter density if you don't want to; just drag the slider somewhere on the scale from "Low" to "High," whatever's prettiest without being too devastating to your framerates on your particular system. Of course, there's a "Custom" setting, so if you want to tweak all the little sliders, you are still free to do so. A nice change, and it will especially benefit people who don't necessarily know what all the options mean.


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Crit DoTs for Affliction, sorta - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 19:00:00 EST

The Shadow Priest world was recently pleased to learn that Mind Flay is going to be enhanced in an upcoming beta build with the ability to crit (as well as a 30% increased spell power coefficient). The Affliction Warlock community, meanwhile, just wanted to know if they'd get a similar treatment, and it looks like the answer is: maybe? Kind of?

Let me explain. Last night, class designer Koraa said the following in the beta forums:

There will be a new talent in Affliction in an upcoming build. Keywords: "DoT" and "Crit" (Well, sorta)

How do we interpret that "well, sorta"? Who knows, really. I'm sure we'll all see soon enough. In the mean time, it's always fun to speculate! What's like critting, but isn't actually a crit? Well, there could be a chance of 1.5x/2x damage, without actually being counted as a crit. This way it wouldn't trigger effects that trigger from crits. However, it would then not solve the issue of crit rating being next to meaningless for Aff locks. "Sorta" could also mean that crit mechanics will apply to DoTs, but not in a traditional way:

  • A crit DoT could have each tick do extra damage (this would be the closest analogue of a regular crit, I think).
  • It could be extended in duration, which would save on mana but not really raise DPS.
  • Each tick could have a separate chance to crit.
  • It could actually compress the DoT, making it do the same amount of damage in less time, which would raise DPS and keep DPM constant.

I think that last one is my favorite. What do you think they'll do? What do you want them to do?

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[1.Local]: The view from the back room - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 18:30:00 EST
Reader comments - ahh, yes, the juicy goodness following a meaty post. [1.Local] ducks past the swinging doors to see what readers have been chatting about in the back room over the past week. Be sure to dive into the comments area of each thread (not this one!) and add your own thoughts - unlike your mama, we like us some hot, fresh backtalk.

New titles for Wrath
Are Wrath titles that reward players for being first to achieve various goals worth the pixels they're printed on? "I really would like to see these titles be awarded for time frames rather than 'first to,'" laments Sels. "For example, the race/class titles being awarded to everyone who hits 80 within two weeks, or a month ... maybe the profession ones for anyone who hits that achievement within a week. Also, I foresee some guy with five accounts of the same class multiboxing together getting 80 first. Makes me sad panda."

Continue reading [1.Local]: The view from the back room

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Phat Loot Phriday: The Booterang - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 18:00:00 EST


I've been grinding as much Netherwing rep as I can lately, and this is definitely the most fun of the quests down there, if not the most fun daily quest ever.

Name: Booterang (Wowhead, Thottbot, Armory)
Type: Quest item
Damage/Speed: N/A
Abilities:
  • Gets Disobedient Peons back up and working again, and fast.
  • As you might expect, the Booterang is a boot you can throw that will come back to you, whereever you are. It's part of the Netherwing rep questline, and involves a daily quest where you must search out Disobedient Dragonmaw Peons on Netherwing Ledge, toss the Booterang at them to give them an attitude adjustment, and then the boot flies back to you (and as you catch it, you do a great fist pump motion). It's great, great fun -- while the bombing daily quests are always a good time, and the Murloc de-mind-controlling on Sunwell Isle always brings a smile to my face, the Booterang is the best.
  • Unfortunately, the Booterang only works on Disobedient Peons on Netherwing Ledge, so using it to knock some sense into raiders who aren't paying attention or battleground members who aren't fighting at the flag is, unfortunately, out of the question. But maybe we'll see an upgraded Booterang in the expansion?
  • There is also a technique called "Booterang chasing" -- you can use the item from your mount, and since an epic mount is required to do the Netherwing quests, you actually move faster than the Booterang can come back to you. Since you can use it 20 times in a row, you can throw out 20 Booterangs at various peons, and as long as you keep moving, you can trail all 20 Booterangs behind you, spinning around you as they try to find their way back. The 'rangs can be trailed anywhere, too, so people can be seen flying around Shadowmoon Valley with a trail of spinning boots behind them.
How to Get It: There are lots of Netherwing quest line guides around (including an official one) -- to start the quests, you've got to first have a 300 riding skill, and then you'll have to grind a few dailiy quests until you get to Friendly reputation with the Netherwing Faction (by masquerading as a Dragonmaw Orc grunt). Once you hit Friendly, you'll get upgraded to an Overseer, and with the promotion comes your very own Booterang (which you've got to assemble with a quick quest that requires you to get some Knothide Leather, easily attained on the AH if you're not a skinner, and the hide of Tyrannus, a dinosaur hiding in the northernmost ecodome in Netherstorm).

Make your Booterang (the "There are many like it, but this one is yours" inscription, along with the text of the quests, comes straight from the great Full Metal Jacket), and then the next quest requires you to bust some Peon heads. And let me tell you -- after a day of slogging through the Netherwing mines dealing with all those Flayer respawns and fighting with other players over drops and mobs, there is nothing better than slinging a booterang around and telling some lazy orcs to get back to work.

Getting Rid of It: Unfortunately, you don't actually get it -- even though you "make" it by getting the mats together, the Overseer who gives you the quest keeps it when you turn the quest in. It sure is fun while you have it (and note to Blizzard: this would be a great leatherworking pattern, especially if you threw a stun or even a debuff on it), but when the quest is gone, so is your Booterang. Until the next day, anyway, when you can do the quest again.

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Insider Trader: Popular enchants and where to get them - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 17:33:00 EST
Insider Trader is your inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products.

If you've ever spent any time sitting in trade chat, you could probably make a list of some of the most popular enchants. Requested frequently, any enchanter possessing the the knowledge to imbue a weapon or piece of armor with the proper stats stands to make a fair amount of gold.

For example, a healer seeking Major Healing, or a meleer seeking Mongoose, will know the materials, and gather them. Each time they replace their respective weapons, back into trade they will go to request the enchant.

Today, Insider Trader presents a list of some of the most requested enchants with information about how to obtain them so that you can offer them to friends, guildmates, and your server.

It is by no means a complete list, but it will get you off to a shining start and provide you with quite a to-do list. Check out the comments section for helpful details as well.

Drop rate data was gathered from the Armory, and Blizzard uses ranges such as Very Low (1-2%). This is narrowed down with data from Wowhead where appropriate, but keep in mind that some bind on pick-up recipes can only be seen by enchanters, and Wowhead cannot filter out that data, making their estimate much lower than the actual drop rate.

In the next couple of weeks, I'll be working on the faction recipes series, focusing on enchanting, so stay tuned.

Continue reading Insider Trader: Popular enchants and where to get them

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Frostmourne replica in action - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 17:00:00 EST
After waiting three months, Cerenvy of EU Darkspear finally recieved his replica Frostmourne in the mail. He got together with a couple guildmates, and rocked out with "duelling Frostmournes." Pictures included, of course.

According to Cerenvy, the replicas are much heavier than you might imagine. They had to flex a bit to hold the treasured swords aloft. Angrist and Nymeria of EU Darkspear also appear in the pictures with their own replicas, and the chaps spent a little while whirling the legendary weapons around. I hadn't been really interested in the swords. Now that I can get a better look at them, thought, I might find out about getting one to hang on my own wall. While the price seem a little steep, it definitely looks like they had a good time.

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Blizzard and the hidden population of disabled players - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 16:30:00 EST
A Dwarf Priest has a nice long post up about the relationship between Blizzard and one of the more hidden (and yet surprisingly large) groups within their population: disabled gamers. It's no secret to anyone who's played WoW for a while that a lot of disabled gamers have found a lot of solace in a social game where you can be almost completely anonymous and play a character at whatever pace you want to play. Even if you go with the lowest of estimations, there are about 525,000 people playing the game with some kind of disability in real life. That's a much bigger number than I expected, and it's a significant number of people paying Blizzard every month.

Fortunately, Dwarf Priest found that accessibility is relatively good in Blizzard's game -- most of the work is actually done with third-party addons, but the UI and display is so customizable that even with the default interface, many people without a full range of controls or movement can figure out how to play the game. For their part, Blizzard has agreed that a customizable UI is the best way to make a game accessible -- J. Allen Brack says that's a priority in this interview with Able Gamers.

Dwarf Priest has lots more, including a quick comparison with accessibility in Warhammer Online, and even a weird wrinkle in the Glider lawsuit (the botting program's creators are apparently claiming it helps disabled players play their characters). It's a very well-written post about a subject that doesn't get covered much, and there's lots of extra reading to dig into at the bottom as well.

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WoW, Casually: To Beta or not to Beta - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 16:00:00 EST


Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player who has limited playtime.

Those of us who are playtime-challenged have to make hard decisions about what to do during our WoW game sessions all the time. Do we try to do an instance? Do we work on our dailies? Or do we just parade our vanity pets around Shattrath while chatting with guildies? (OK, maybe just I do that.) For some time now, many of us have had another decision to make: do we check out the Wrath of the Lich King Beta?

On one hand, you've got a brand new class to play with. On the other hand, you don't get to keep him. So is the Beta wasted time? Let's look at the Pros and Cons after the break.

Continue reading WoW, Casually: To Beta or not to Beta

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Beta patch possible today with changes to XP, Storm Peaks, and premade characters - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 15:45:00 EST
According to Tigole, Blizzard will "try to patch" the Wrath of the Lich King beta today. Storm Peaks will open back up and should not crash the sever. No word yet if Naxx will be introduced in this patch. The servers should be up between 4:30 p.m. PDT and 6:30 p.m. PDT.

The XP required to level will also be reduced by 10% this beta patch. Things should go faster for all you playing around with leveling.

Finally, there will be a new beta realm opening up named Murmur. Tigole mentioned that the premade characters should not have been made available on the existing realms. He tells us that "they are being removed." There is no indication as to whether or not current premade characters will be moved to the new realm or just outright deleted.

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Oh, the cleverness of me! - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 15:30:00 EST


I'm not in the beta. I'm kind of uncomfortable with the notion of spoiling myself completely, and I'm a terrible leveler. I have the lurking feeling that leveling my main to 80 before Wrath actually went live would wreck a leveling pace that might otherwise have been driven by exploration and discovery. I want Wrath to be a fantastic new experience that will recapture the sense of wonder I felt leveling my first toon in a strange new world. Also I never got a key, but the other reasons are more important and influential.

Yeah, even I don't believe me.

While I'm certain I'll never make a Death Knight my main, I'm sure I'll enjoy leveling one. I'm sure I'm not going to enjoy trying to level one alongside 50,000 other people and their cousins and their friends and their friends' dogs and their friends' dogs' fleas leveling a Death Knight. So it's occurred to me that, OK as I am with the notion of waiting a few months to get started on my bouncing baby bundle of risen-corpsified merriment, I can capitalize on the coming rush of Death Knights in a completely different fashion simply by exercising a little foresight. All Death Knights are melee, right? None of them can really heal, right? People are already noticing un peu problem in the beta in this vein, right? And I can't level an alt worth beans, right right? Right. What's the one buff that makes all melee salivate, provided by an excellent healing class, during a time in which healers will never have to worry about finding a group or a tank?

Bingo. I'm getting a resto Shaman to 58 and parking him in Eastern Plaguelands to twiddle his thumbs in anticipation of the descent of the Death Knight legion come Wrath's release. See you there!

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: The Great Divide part 1 - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 15:00:00 EST


Warriors, at the heart of it, only do one thing.

They hit things. And that's it.

Everything warriors do is in terms of hitting things, ultimately. An argument could be made that some warriors spend an awful lot of time trying to make it so things that hit them don't kill them as fast as they could and that argument would have merit. But I'd argue that those warriors are merely attempting to optimize their hitting things time. Generally speaking, most things won't hit themselves, so if you die when they hit you, then they'll go off and hit someone else. You have to keep upright if you're to keep hitting anything.

Well, okay, I suppose warriors do two things. They hit things and they yell a lot. They yell at the mobs, they yell at their fellow adventurers which somehow makes them feel healthier (I admit that I'm not terribly sure why my shouting can have all these variable effects. I must have amazing vocal control. Like Don LaFontaine, may he rest in peace.) Well, it seems to me in reading the various posts by Ghostcrawler in the warrior beta forums that the intention for prot warriors is to emphasize their hitting of things.

Continue reading The Care and Feeding of Warriors: The Great Divide part 1

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RP Spotlight: Inadra's tale - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 14:30:00 EST
RP Spotlight highlights little things people do to deepen their experience of the story of World of Warcraft, whether they are roleplayers or not.

Inadra's voice chills you from the very outset of her story: "I have walked on the bones of my people," she begins, "on a path so long that I could not see where it ended, or where it began..." So have you. You remember walking on those same bones, on the Path of Glory in Hellfire Peninsula -- where the corpses of the draenei people that were killed in a genocide by the Old Horde paved the way for the orcs' march to the Dark Portal and into Azeroth. (For more on the background of this genocide, find out how the orcs became so bloodthirsty.)

If you've done the quest called "Path of Glory" at Honor Hold, then you will have seen a glimpse of the tragedy in this story. Perhaps, like me, you felt touched at the cleansing of some draenei bones, reminded of real people who had suffered similar ends at the hands of merciless enemies.

Phaedra, of the Venture Co. realm, must have been touched too. She drew on this element within the Warcraft lore to craft a beautiful and heartbreaking tale of her own, set on Draenor just as the genocide against the draenei was beginning. It's about how the draenei in families such as her own faced such a terror with bravery and sacrifice, and how a few managed to survive with hope alive in their hearts. Phaedra narrates her tale in the voice of her main character, Inadra, and sets the mood perfectly, with background music, and subtle changes in her tone of voice.

It's a great piece of audiodrama; so give it about 10 or 20 minutes of your time. After listening to it, you may never see draenei, or the World of Warcraft, the same again.

[Thanks Tyche, for letting us know!]

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GamerTrainer offers tutoring for WoW gamers - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 14:00:00 EST
Having trouble making your way through Stranglethorn Vale? Can't quite figure out how to farm all that gold for your epic mount? Maybe what you need is a tutor! GamerTrainer is a site that claims to provide tutors for gamers who need a little extra personalized help with their games, and right there on their list, among Halo, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Call of Duty is our very own World of Warcraft. It'll cost ya, though -- $130 for five hours is as cheap as it comes per hour, going all the way up to $30 for one hour of personalized training. And just because you pay, it doesn't mean you'll actually get help -- "Mister_Llanowar" is apparently standing by to give you some helpful tips, and for all you know, he's just another 13-year-old who's really good at ganking with a 70.

As you might have noticed, we're a little skeptical -- there's nothing you couldn't learn from these trainers that you couldn't pick up on, say, sites like the one you're reading right now (we've got you covered on STV and raising all that mount money). Not to mention that the whole point of a game (any game) is to sit down, mess around with it, experiment and explore, and pick it up on your own -- having someone tell you personally what to do and where to go is the exact opposite of fun.

And if you still disagree, hey, call me up. I'll be happy to sit down and play with you on Skype for a measley $30 an hour. I call all disenchants, though, so if you don't need those greens, they're mine!

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BigRedKitty: Rhino II - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 13:00:00 EST


Daniel Howell contributes
BigRedKitty, a column with strategies, tips and tricks for and about the Hunter class, sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.

The one hunter-pet that hadn't had his special spell revealed already in the Wrath of the Lich King beta was our beloved, delicate, diminutive Rhino. Say no more! The 8885 WotLK beta-build has fixed that, and with a vengeance.

Stampede! /flop-faint from joy

You are invited to download the YouTube version (29MB) of this movie here, and the full-sized version (116MB) here.

As always, a great big Thank You to the WoW Insider editors for allowing us to publish this movie both here and on our little blog at the same time!
From his video guides to Karazhan For Hunter Dummies, nobody covers raid Hunters like BRK. Looking for more Hunter goodness? Check out our non-raid Hunter column, Scattered Shots or the WoW Insider Directory of Hunter Guides.

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WoW Moviewatch: Tanked a Boss - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 12:00:00 EST

While we're waiting for the final results of the WeGame machinima contest, I thought I'd take some time to dig into the viewer submissions. The boys at Dirt Dog Gaming, of Eradar, have flooded my inbox. It's an interesting strategy that worked, but just this once. I previously wrote about their Christmas and New Years songs with a WoW spin on them.

This time around, Mirabell and Barenger have parodied the infectious Katy Perry song, I Kissed a Girl. Their take, Tanked a Boss, isn't the best machinima by any means. The aspect ratio is way off and it sometimes jumps around. However, the song itself is worth it, and they get bonus points for the creative ways they give fellow guildmates shoutouts throughout the video!

[Thanks, Infamy, Barenger, Brendan, and Gump for your various submissions!]

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Gem Finder helps you find just the right gems - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 11:30:00 EST
I can't remember if we've posted about the WoW Gem Finder or not, but the last gem list I posted about has gone missing, so if you've never heard of this one, it's new to you. WoW Gem Finder is a quick web tool that you can to quickly find exactly the gem you're looking for -- just choose the colors, attributes, and/or abilities you want from the checklist on the side, and it'll narrow down exactly the gem you want and where to get it. And all the gems link to Wowhead anyway, so even if the little description isn't enough for you, you can go searching for it elsewhere as well.

Pretty great resource for anyone (like me) just starting to pick up epic gear on their latest character and looking into where the gems are coming from. One thing players might still need help with is when to put which gems on which gear (most people wouldn't throw epic gems in gear you get at 61, I'd think, and I personally usually don't bother with anything but vendor gems until I get an actual epic), but that may be all outside the ken of this finder. As a tool to help you find exactly the gem you want, it's a good one.

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Ask a Beta Tester: All about Inscription (and a few other things) - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 11:00:00 EST


Twan kicks us off this morning with....

Is it worth stockpiling herbs or bars/ore if I had to pick one?

There's not much you'll be doing with Outland or Azerothian ore... unless you want your new Death Knight to be a Blacksmith or Jewelcrafter... but herbs of all levels will be used in the new Inscription profession. Use them to train Inscription, sell them on the auction house post Wrath... either way, you win!

For more of your beta questions -- and our beta answers -- read on! We've got all there is to know about inscription after the break. But if you're the sort who wants to avoid spoilers, turn back now. We're aiming to avoid major story spoilers, but this feature is all about beta content and we can't talk about the beta without giving a few things away.

Continue reading Ask a Beta Tester: All about Inscription (and a few other things)

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Around Azeroth: A whale of a tale - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 10:00:00 EST


Fine, fine, orcas aren't actually whales. There's nothing out there that rhymes with orca, so I had to improvise. What are you, a marine biologist? Anyway, Wrath of the Lich King photoblogger Chaotique, of Perenolde's semi-infamous <Sleeper Cartel>, sent us a handful of irregularly-sized photos for Around Azeroth, including this shot of a struggling flying machine creating a smoke trail over a seemingly blissful marine mammal. With all the engineers and their polluting devices heading to Northrend, how long will it be before the air quality equals that of Los Angeles? But I suppose that in a world constantly being threatened by undead hordes and enormous red demons, pollution is the least dire threat.

This image came to us straight from the Wrath of the Lich King beta -- and we'd love to have your beta screenshots, too! If you have anything our readers might like, beta or not, sharing it is as simple as e-mailing aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!

Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it.

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Should your GM be able to tax you? - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 09:00:00 EST
This idea's been floated before, but a few people on the forums have responded pretty enthusiastically to the notion of introducing a "guild income tax." Others...not so much so. Basically, there was a proposal made in the Beta forums that Blizzard give GM's/officers the ability to levy a percentage-based tax on members' earnings. Jeff "Tigole" Kaplan responded, saying that it "was an interesting idea" and they're considering options for improving guild administration, but there was no way they could program a change like this in time for Wrath. Bear in mind that the original tax being suggested would apply to your toon both inside and out of raids (although no one was seriously suggesting that the tax should apply to non-raiding members of the guild).

I have to admit that I'm not too keen on the idea of a broad-based "income tax" on players, if only because the game's current mechanics make it all but certain that the main beneficiaries will be people who either can't (due to class/spec) or won't put much gold into the guild coffers. Moreover, the taxation idea acts as an incentive for people not to guild their alts, thus avoiding taxation entirely on toons that are usually the real means of support for a raiding main (someone remind me to go reserve a hunter named Swissbank). As an herbalist/alchemist, I farm a lot for friends and have been known to chuck the guild bank a few hundred gold from time to time. Maybe I'd save time and money under a system that required me to hand over 2-3% of my income, but still. Being taxed removes an element of individual responsibility, and it certainly takes away the nice feeling you have for voluntarily helping others.

If nothing else the idea's given rise to a few nice jokes (Cacora of Hellscream: "Do I get money back at the end of the year if I claim multiple alts as dependents?"), but the final word may well belong to Grig from Whisperwind: "So, Blizzard is considering taking one of the most universally loathed concepts from real life and adding it to a game. Why, they'd be silly not to do it."

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7-Eleven to have Wrath midnight release - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 08:30:00 EST

In somewhat unusual news, 7-Eleven seems to be moving into the video game sales business in some capacity. I've noticed that 7-Eleven had sold a couple select games like Madden in the past, but I never thought much of it. I assumed they just had some deal with the distributor for that particular game.

However, that's not actually the case. Their Madden sales turned out to be quite the success, and their demographic is rather gamer heavy. Man, who would have thought a 24-hour convenience store would attract a lot of young gamers? My mind is boggled. As of this season, 7-Eleven has begun offering pre-orders of select major upcoming releases (such as Wrath of the Lich King) at their locations. All of their offerings will have midnight releases at the 24/7 chain, so your next midnight release party might just take place between a Slurpee machine and a beef jerky rack. I have a feeling they won't be holding any costume contests.

Oh, if you're curious, 7-Eleven says Wrath in November, too. Man, I could actually go for a Slurpee right now. AFK.

[ via Kotaku ]

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