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Blizzard Announces Beta And Gives Big

Blizzard EntertainmentBlizzard Entertainment announced the closed beta test for its highly anticipated real-time strategy game, StarCraft® II: Wings of Liberty, has begun. Thousands of gamers around the world have started to receive invitations from the company to participate in the first phase of the beta test. In addition to providing feedback on the multiplayer balance of StarCraft II, testers are also getting a first look at Blizzard Entertainment’s revamped Battle.net service, which will be the online platform for StarCraft II, World of Warcraft®, and future Blizzard Entertainment games.

“Gathering concentrated feedback from our players is an important step for us as we head into the final stretch of development for StarCraft II and the new Battle.net service,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We look forward to having our players’ help in polishing the overall experience and preparing for launch.”

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is the sequel to Blizzard Entertainment’s 1998 hit StarCraft, which has been hailed by players and critics worldwide as one of the top real-time strategy games of all time. Sporting a vibrant new 3D-graphics engine, StarCraft II will once again center on the clash between the protoss, terrans, and zerg, with each side deploying legions of veteran, upgraded, and brand-new unit types. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is currently slated to ship in the first half of 2010.

In addition, Blizzard Entertainment will again offer unparalleled online play through Battle.net, the company’s world-renowned gaming service. A new version of Battle.net will be launched alongside StarCraft II with several enhancements and new features to establish it as the premier online gaming destination for Blizzard gamers.

Meanwhile, The Make-A-Wish Foundation announced a $1.1 million donation from Blizzard. The donation is based on 50 percent of the total sales during November and December 2009 of a special in-game pet, the Pandaren Monk, for Blizzard’s award-winning, massively multiplayer online role-playing game, World of Warcraft®.

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, Blizzard made the presentation during a special ceremony at the company’s headquarters in Irvine, Calif. Blizzard invited 15 wish children who are also gaming enthusiasts and their families to enjoy an exclusive learning experience with the World of Warcraft development team, including an inside look at how the game is created.

“We’ve had a long relationship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and we’re proud to support the priceless work they do for children,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “This donation also reflects the spirit and generosity of our players – their enthusiasm for World of Warcraft and for supporting a good cause made this possible.”

The contribution will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, which serves children with life-threatening medical conditions in the United States and its territories, and Make-A-Wish Foundation International, which grants the wishes of children outside the United States in 35 countries.

“Thanks to Blizzard Entertainment and World of Warcraft players around the world, we will be able to grant the heartfelt wishes of even more courageous children with life-threatening medical conditions,” said David Williams, Make-A-Wish Foundation of America president and chief executive officer. “This generosity is helping us bring hope, strength and joy to children when they – and their families – are facing an unimaginably difficult time in their young lives.”

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