Blizzard Announces New Hearthstone Expansion – Mean Streets of Gadgetzan

Blizzard Announces New Hearthstone Expansion - Mean Streets of GadgetzanBlizzard Announces New Hearthstone Expansion – Mean Streets of Gadgetzan
At BlizzCon 2016, Blizzard made tons of announcements that included a new Overwatch character and a content patch for Diablo 3. Among the announcements, Blizzard also announced a fourth expansion for free-to-play collectible card game. ‘Mean Streets of Gadgetzan’ is the latest major content addition that will bring 132 new cards to the game.

As the title suggests, Gadgetzan is a lawless land and a haven for criminals of Azeroth. Three crime families rule the streets here, each with a powerful figurehead. Each one of the families are associated with three of Hearthstone’s classes which comes with its unique benefits that rival families lack. Players will need to choose their family wisely while building their decks.
The Mean Streets of Gadgetzan card packs can be won in Hearthstone’s Arena mode. The card packs is also purchasable with in-game gold or real money.
The new expansion will be available across Windows, PC, iOS and Android from early December according to Blizzard’s website. Players can also pre-order Mean Streets of Gadgetzan card packs in a special 50-pack bundle for $49.99 (approx. Rs. 3,300).

Apart from announcing the new expansion, Blizzard also revealed 21 of the the 132 new cards. One of the many interesting cards here is Kazakus, who happens to be one of the bosses of the three families and has the ability to create a custom spell if your deck has no duplicates. You can head to Blizzard’s official site to know more about the expansion and its cards.

Tags: Blizzard, BlizzCon 2016, Gadgetzan, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, Hearthstone, Gaming, PC, PC Games


Google’s Greene hastens cloud expansion in race with Amazon

Google is working on tools that can broaden its corporate user base to include less technically savvy customers. Photo: Bloomberg

Google is working on tools that can broaden its corporate user base to include less technically savvy customers. Photo: Bloomberg

San Francisco: Google’s new cloud chief Diane Greene had unsettling news for employees at an internal sales meeting this month in Las Vegas: They weren’t taking corporate customers seriously enough and needed to sell harder, be hungrier and less complacent.

That was an unusual message at Google, which typically venerates technology over sales and marketing. But it was a necessary one. Google is third in cloud computing, an increasingly popular way for companies to run their IT operations. That’s a $20 billion-a-year business forecast to grow 35% over the next year, according to Gartner Inc.

To climb this ranking, the Alphabet Inc. subsidiary will massively expand its network of data centers, a move that fits with Google’s tendency to rely on technological solutions to challenges.

But Greene is also adopting strategies beyond Google’s usual playbook. The company is working on tools that can broaden its corporate user base to include less technically savvy customers, and it’s embarked on a hiring spree aimed at selling and explaining these new products.

“There was a pretty darn good vision in place and now I’m just bringing everybody together so that we all know what we’re doing,” said Greene, who’s also on Alphabet’s board. “The cloud is a revolution, I mean it’s rivaling the industrial revolution, and it’s pretty fun being this involved.”

After pretty much inventing the cloud for its own use in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Google left Inc. to turn the idea into a service that other companies could rent. That became Amazon Web Services, a division which made almost $8 billion in sales in 2015, making it top cloud dog ahead of Microsoft Corp. and Google, which pulled in $500 million last year, according to Morgan Stanley.

In November, Google hired Greene to change that. She’s a Silicon Valley legend who co-founded VMware Inc. in 1998 to bring a technology called virtualization into the data centers of most large companies. Virtualization lets a single computer server do the job of many, a valuable capability that made Amazon Web Services possible. When she was fired in 2008 after falling out with VMware’s board, the company lost almost a quarter of its value in a day.

In coming months Google will open two new cloud regions—Google-speak for data centers stuffed with computers and software that customers can rent over the Internet—in Oregon and Japan. Another ten are coming over the next 12 to 18 months, either as facilities leased from other providers, or built and operated by Google.

“We know what the recipe is,” said Urs Holzle, Greene’s new technical consigliere who has run Google’s infrastructure for over a decade. “Let’s go apply it everywhere.”

Google has three regions today. By quintupling its digital reach, the company can serve more businesses faster while conforming to local regulations, many of which demand that certain types of data never leave a country. Amazon operates 12 regions today, with a further five planned.

New territory

Greene is also changing the way Google sells and markets. She’s hiring across the board and demanding staff work more closely together and talk to customers more often. That includes creating a team that meets with enterprise customers to ensure Google is building what they need. That’s normal for traditional enterprise companies like Inc. and Oracle Corp., but new territory for Google which specializes in self-service Web offerings. The West coast cloud sales team doubled to almost 50 people over the last few months, while the Google Apps team that works with independent IT vendors like startup Avere has grown substantially, say people familiar with the company.

Google is also spending more on marketing to compete against enterprise-focused rivals like Microsoft. Google’s pioneering, Web-based suite of work apps now trails Microsoft Office365 in revenue, Forrester Research estimates. “We have, like, the best office productivity suite, but people don’t know it,” said Greene, who is hiring a chief marketing officer. Google is splashing out on billboards around San Francisco ahead of a conference this week for cloud customers.

Greene is an avid sailor and moors a trimaran in San Francisco. An all-woman round-the-world crew recently asked for sponsorship, but she’s so far resisted the urge to pitch Google cloud products from the bows of expensive yachts like Oracle’s Larry Ellison. “I’m quite happy to go sailing without having the Google boat,” Greene said.

Partner push

Still, extra investment in sales and marketing is good news for Google’s partners, which can sell more if customers become familiar with Google’s cloud. These re-sellers have asked for more support for years, said one former Google employee. This year, Greene came to a crucial customer meeting with SADA Systems, a big Google partner. It was the first time in nine years an executive of her seniority attended a customer meeting, said SADA CEO Tony Safoian.

She’s also tapping her VMware Rolodex, talking with big enterprise rivals like SAP SE, Microsoft and Oracle, to get more of their products into the Google cloud. That’s must-have for some large companies, which need pre-packaged software from these providers to run their businesses. No Oracle or SAP products are available on Google’s cloud today. Microsoft and Oracle declined to comment, while SAP confirmed early talks.

Too advanced

Greene’s experience should help her solve Google’s biggest, most-surprising challenge: its technology is too advanced. The company’s powerful internal systems work in radically different ways, which can make selling it harder.

Google’s first attempt at the cloud, App Engine, let developers upload software code and Google would handle everything else. It was a futuristic vision, but people didn’t want to rent computers like that. Instead, customers flocked to Amazon’s less-advanced but more-flexible offerings. Google is now developing products that look a lot more like its rival’s. “You have to meet people where they are,” said Holzle. “Otherwise they can’t get started.”

“They are probably the most advanced cloud operation on the planet. It also doesn’t matter,” said Carl Brooks, an analyst at The 451 Group.

Google needs more humdrum enterprise features like compatibility, compliance, and security, he said.

“Those are fair requests from our users and they’re coming immediately,” Greene said. Bloomberg


Blizzard Announces Big Hearthstone Expansion – Whispers of the Old Gods

Blizzard Announces Big Hearthstone Expansion - Whispers of the Old Gods

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has been growing in size since its release two years ago, and Blizzard announced a third expansion for the free-to-play collectible card game on Friday night. Titled ‘Whispers of the Old Gods’, it adds 134 new cards to the game.

(Also see: Hearthstone Introduces New Game Formats and More Deck Slots)

Alongside that, you will also be able to get your hands on four “Legendary Old Gods” cards featuring C’Thun, Yogg-Saron, Y’Shaarj, and N’Zoth. Yep, those really are their names.

“It is said that for millennia uncounted the massive Old Gods lay dreaming in ageless sleep deep beneath the surface of Azeroth,” Blizzard elaborated in a blog post. “Maybe noisy taverns full of laughter, shouts of triumph, and clanking tankards are like a snooze alarm you can’t turn off, and this whole Old-Gods-waking-up thing is entirely our fault.”

You can now pre-order a 50-pack bundle of randomly-generated Whispers of the Old Gods cards for $49.99 (approx. Rs. 3,300) before the bundle releases next month. And should you choose to do so, you will be rewarded with a new card back for your loyalty to Blizzard.

The company said to expect the release of the new expansion across all platforms – Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android – starting end of next month and latest by early May.

(Also see: StarCraft on Your iPhone? Don’t Rule It Out, Says Blizzard)

You will be able to put down gold you earn in-game (or real money if you please) to get the new card packs contained within the expansion. Blizzard is trying to involve the community further by doing a further reveal of the cards coming with Whispers of the Old Gods next Monday. If you want to know more, head to the official website for the expansion to learn more then.

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Tags: Blizzard, CCG, Hearthstone, Whispers of the Old Gods

Daimler CEO Says ‘Here’ Digital Mapping Consortium in Expansion Talks

Daimler CEO Says 'Here' Digital Mapping Consortium in Expansion Talks

Daimler’s Chief Executive told Reuters that a German auto maker consortium which controls the Here digital mapping business is in talks with potential new members.

In August last year, German carmakers BMW, Audi and Mercedes, agreed to pay EUR 2.5 billion ($2.8 billion or roughly Rs. 18,771 crores) to buy Nokia’s high definition maps business, in a step to develop self-driving cars.

The deal closed in December and the German auto makers Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW started negotiations with new potential members, Zetsche said in an interview embargoed for Sunday.

“If there are individual companies that are already raising their finger, then this is fast and pleasing. I do not think it will take very long until the first company gives a binding commitment to join,” Zetsche said at a Mercedes-Benz driving event in Portugal.

The Here mapping business needs additional investments to make it viable for use as a navigation tool for self-driving cars. Having more carmakers join the consortium will potentially spread the cost across more members and could improve the volume of live traffic information being fed to the map from vehicles on the road.

Last week carmakers Renault-Nissan, and supplier Continental said they were considering taking a stake in the Here mapping consortium.

Intelligent mapping systems like Here’s are the basis on which self-driving cars, linked to wireless networks, can perform functions such as recalculating a route to the nearest electric charging station or around a traffic jam or accident.

Talks with third parties only started in the past two months because the consortium waited until the deal closed before talking to other partners, Zetsche said. Having only three members in the consortium made negotiations to close the deal simpler, Zetsche said.

“Interest will not only be limited to Renault-Nissan and Continental,” Zetsche added.

Self-driving and connected car services could become a $50 billion (roughly Rs. 3,35,212 crores) market, analysts at Exane BNP Paribas have estimated. Germany’s carmakers decided to club together to bid for the asset to accelerate plans for self-driving cars after Internet rival Alphabet unveiled a prototype autonomous vehicle.

Now Daimler is ready to expand the business which will form the basis for interactive maps which include live data on traffic flows gathered by thousands of sensors on BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

“It is clear that we want to aggressively expand this platform, we will make the means available to do this,” Zetsche said.

There are talks with the telecommunications industry about how to spread the availability of ultra-high-speed 5G networks, Zetsche said.

Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi are also evaluating whether their cooperation on maps can be broadened, Zetsche said.

“When it concerns navigation, we have broadly identical needs. Setting communication standards, which language we should speak and what signals we send, we can decide together,” Zetsche said.

Daimler is on the lookout for software and information technology specialists to help develop its digital businesses, including through further takeovers.

“To get access to the right resources we will continue making acquisitions,” Zetsche said, explaining that there are currently no live talks for a deal. Daimler has already bought the MyTaxi App and any further deals will be about buying smaller companies, Zetsche said.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Apps, Audi, BMW, Daimler, Here, Internet, Mercedes