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Microsoft hits back at UK after Activision acquisition blocked

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  • Microsoft: decision shakes confidence in UK
  • Says EU is a better place to start a business
  • Regulator: we protect UK consumers and businesses
  • UK has attractive tech sector – PM’s spokesperson

LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) – Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) president Brad Smith said the UK regulator’s decision to prevent its acquisition of ‘Call of Duty’ maker Activision Blizzard “had shaken confidence” in Britain as a destination for tech businesses.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which operates independently from government, blocked the deal on Wednesday, saying it could hit competition in the nascent cloud gaming market.

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Microsoft hit back on Thursday, saying it was “probably the darkest day in our four decades in Britain” and sent the wrong message to the global tech industry about the UK.

“If the government of the United Kingdom wants to bring in investment, if it wants to create jobs (…) it needs to look hard at the role of the CMA, the regulatory structure in the United Kingdom, this transaction, and the message that the United Kingdom has just said to the world,” he told BBC radio.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Smith’s comments were “not borne out by the facts”.

“We continue to believe that the UK has an extremely attractive tech sector and a growing games market,” he said. “We will continue to engage proactively with Microsoft and other companies.”

Smith said Microsoft had worked effectively with regulators in Brussels but not in London, which he said refuted Britain’s claim that it would be more flexible after Brexit.

The company had answered the CMA’s questions, he said, and it had told them to come back with any more concerns. “They went silent, we heard nothing from them,” he said.

“There’s a clear message here – the European Union is a more attractive place to start a business if you want some day to sell it than the United Kingdom,” he added.

But CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell said the regulator’s role was to make sure Britain was a competitive environment for businesses to be able to grow and thrive.

“The decision that the CMA takes is an independent decision that we reached looking at an overall assessment of the impact of the deal on competition, and we think that is the right decision for the UK,” she said.

She noted the U.S. Federal Trade Commission was also pressing for the deal to be blocked on competition grounds.

Microsoft said yesterday it would appeal, with “aggressive” support from Activision (ATVI.O).

Appeals against CMA rulings are heard by the Competition Appeals Tribunal, which makes a judgment on the merits of the decision. It will not be an opportunity for Microsoft to submit new remedies.

Reporting by Muvija M and Paul Sandle; editing by Sarah Young

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Diablo 4 Received Its First Big Patch and It’s All About Class Balance

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Diablo 4 has received its first big patch and it’s mostly about balancing the five starting classes that players can choose to take down Lilith and save Sanctuary with.

Blizzard shared the patch notes and some reasoning behind the changes in a blog, and it shared that the team is mostly happy with where the characters are currently at. However, the team knows there is “always room for improvement.” To that end, it has revealed the three categories these changes fall into;

  1. While we want players to both feel and be truly powerful, some Class builds and synergies are outside of our bounds for what is reasonable for the health of the game, so we are reducing their effectiveness. As an example, we generally want to avoid creating situations where players can survive unreasonably high amounts of damage for long periods of time because it too greatly warps our vision for how combat should be in Diablo IV.
  2. Some skills and builds are not as effective as we would like, so we’re pushing out some buffs to increase their strength.
  3. Paragon Glyphs are currently providing too much player power, so we’re reducing their overall effectiveness.

Blizzard also understands “class balance is a journey, not a destination,” so it’s important to note that more balancing changes will obviously be on the way. Blizzard hopes these will make class builds “fun, powerful, and competitive within reason.”

In regard to this specific patch, some of its changes include reducing the Barbarian’s Challenging Shout’s damage reduction gained from skill ranks from 4% to 2%, increasing Druid’s Lightning Storm damage from 32% to 40%, increasing the damage of the Necromancer’s Army of the Dead from 30% to 45% and reducing its cooldown from 90 to 70 seconds, reducing the damage reduction per shadow gained for the Rogue’s Dark Shroud from .8% to .4%, and reducing the Sorcerer’s Arc Lash’s lucky hit chance from 30% to 14% while also reducing the Glinting Arc Lash cooldown reduction from .25 seconds to .15 seconds.

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There are plenty more changes to look through, and you can see them all below. Let us know if you’re happy with these changes or if they impact the character you are trying to build in the comments below!

For more, check out our Diablo 4 review, our look at which class you should choose, and our extensive Diablo 4 Wiki that includes everything you need to save Sanctuary and have a great time doing it.

Barbarian

Skill Changes

Challenging Shout

  • Damage Reduction gained from Skill Ranks reduced from 4% to 2%

Legendary Aspect Changes

Bold Chieftain’s Aspect

  • Cooldown reduction per Nearby enemy reduced from 2.7-5.4 seconds to 1.0-1.9 seconds.
  • Maximum Cooldown reduction from 12 to 6 seconds.

Aspect of the Dire Whirlwind

  • Increased Critical Strike Chance per second reduced from 5-10% to 3-8%.
  • Maximum Critical Strike Chance bonus reduced from 20-40% to 9-24%.

Item Changes

Gohr’s Devastating Grips

  • Explosion damage gained from Whirlwind reduced from 50-70% to 16-26%.
  • Damage against wreckable objects no longer increases explosion damage.
  • Explosion damage is only increased by the first 100 hits of Whirlwind.

Druid

Skill Changes

Pulverize

  • Lucky Hit Chance reduced from 33% to 25%.

Lightning Storm

  • Damage increased from 32% to 40%.

Grizzly Rage

  • Maximum extended duration from kills reduced from 10 to 5 seconds.

Class Specialization

Obsidian Slam

  • Kills required for bonus increased from 10 to 20.

Calm Before the Storm

  • Lucky Hit Chance reduced from 15% to 10%.

Passive Changes

Electric Shock

  • Damage bonus increased from 5/10/15% to 6/12/18%.

Legendary Aspect Changes

Shockwave Aspect

  • Damage reduced from 90-130% to 60-100%.

Crashstone Aspect

  • Critical Strike Damage reduced from 40-50% to 30-40%.

Lightning Dancer’s Aspect

  • Flat damage increased from .5-.6 to .7-.8.

Necromancer

Skill Changes

Blood Lance

  • Damage increased from 67.5% to 80%.

Army of the Dead

  • Damage increased from 30% to 45%.
  • Cooldown reduced from 90 to 70 seconds.

Blood Wave

  • Damage increased from 90% to 120%.

Passive Changes

Shadowblight

  • Damage increased from 20% to 22%.

Grim Harvest

  • Essence gained reduced from 3/6/9 to 2/4/6.

Serration

  • Critical Strike Chance reduced from .5/1/1.5% to .3/.6/.9%.

Death’s Defense

  • Maximum Minion Life lost in a single damage instance reduced from 75/60/45% to 60/45/30%.

Class Specialization

Raise Skeleton

  • Skeleton Warrior attack damage increased by 10%.

Golem

  • Golem attack damage increased by 10%.

Blood Golem

  • Blood Golem Life drain damage increased from 40% to 90%.
  • Blood Golem Life drain healing from enemies hit increased from 4% to 5%.

Iron Golem

  • Iron Golem slam damage increased from 25% to 175%.
  • Iron Golem shockwave damage increased from 30% to 40%.

Necromancer Paragon Board Changes

Hulking Monstrosity

  • Golem Life and damage bonus increased from 30% to 40% Life.

Cult Leader

  • Damage bonus increased from 10% to 15%.

Rogue

Skill Changes

Twisting Blades

  • Advanced Twisting Blades Cooldown reduction per enemy hit reduced from .25 to .1 seconds.
  • Advanced Twisting Blades maximum Cooldown reduction reduced from 3 to 2 seconds.

Rapid Fire

  • Damage increased from 24% to 30%.

Dark Shroud

  • Damage Reduction per shadow gained from Skill Ranks reduced from .8% to .4%.

Dash

  • Enhanced Dash Critical Strike Damage bonus from 20% to 15%.

Caltrops

  • Damage increased from 30% to 40%.

Passive Changes

Concussive

  • Critical Strike Chance reduced from 5/10/15% to 4/8/12%.

Legendary Affix Changes

Repeating

  • Maximum Minion Life lost in a single damage instance reduced from 75/60/45% to 60/45/30%.

Sorcerer

Skill Changes

Arc Lash

  • Lucky Hit Chance reduced from 30% to 14%.
  • Glinting Arc Lash Cooldown reduction reduced from .25 to .15 seconds.

Teleport

  • Shimmering Teleport’s Damage Reduction duration reduced from 5 to 3 seconds.

Legendary Affix Changes

Aspect of Control

  • Bonus damage reduced from 30-40% to 25-35%.

General

Miscellaneous Class Changes

Druid Companions and Necromancer Minions

  • Maximum damage over time taken per damage instance reduced from 2% to 1% of maximum Life.

Paragon Board Changes

Rare Nodes

  • Player Attack Speed nodes reduced by 50%.

Glyphs

  • All Glyph Bonus scaling has been reduced by ~34%, except for the following:
  • Critical Strike Damage Glyphs’ Bonus reduced by ~66%.
  • Vulnerable Glyphs’ Bonus reduced by ~66%.
  • Glyphs’ Bonus to Rare nodes reduced by ~50%.
  • Glyphs’ Bonus to Magic nodes reduced by ~40%.
  • Glyphs’ Bonus to Cold/Fire/Lightning/Non-Physical/Physical nodes reduced by ~62.5%.

Monster Changes

  • Significantly reduced the spawn rate of Treasure Goblins within PvP zones.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed the name for the Light Bearer Mount.
  • The Go to Shop button from the Wardrobe will now properly open the shop.
  • Fixed an issue where if a Sorcerer uses Deep Freeze and is affected by another effect that would freeze them, it caused them to be permanently stunned.
  • Miscellaneous stability and crash fixes.

Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to newstips@ign.com.

Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.

 

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Apple prepares for game-changing WWDC 2023: Mixed reality headset and new features in the spotligh

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It is anticipated that the next Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) would be one of Apple’s greatest events yet. Apple may eventually unveil its mixed reality headset after years of rumours and leaks, launching the company into a new product category and giving people a first glimpse at its effort to convince investors that virtual reality is worth investing in.

There will also undoubtedly be a lot more: operating system updates, new features and apps, and perhaps even new hardware. Details on how and when to watch the main WWDC keynote as well as some of the announcements we anticipate from Apple are gathered here.

As per The Verge, Apple has confirmed that this year’s main WWDC keynote is slated for Monday, June 5, at 1PM ET / 10AM PT. It will take place as a digital and in-person event at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, with Apple CEO Tim Cook expected to kick things off. You can view the full WWDC lineup here.

Apple will stream the WWDC keynote live from its website and YouTube channel. If you can’t watch the keynote live, you can always tune in to the prerecorded version Apple will post on YouTube after it airs.

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With that said, let’s get into some of the biggest announcements that we expect Apple to make during WWDC.

Undoubtedly, Apple’s mixed reality headset is one of the most interesting new offerings in recent memory. Apple has yet to even confirm its existence, but rumours indicate that it will be able to deliver both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences.

Seemingly called the “Reality Pro,” the developer-focused headset is expected to take on a “ski goggle” look that comes with a physical dial that lets you tune in and out of virtual reality, according to The Verge

The headset will probably be a stand-alone unit with a battery pack that is connected to it by a special wire. It is said to have an M2 chip with 16GB of RAM as far as technical specifications go. According to supply chain analyst Ross Young, the gadget may include two 1.41-inch Micro OLED panels with 4,000 (ppi) each.

Young adds that the displays are capable of delivering over 5,000 nits of brightness and that users should be able to see 4K resolution in each eye, as per The Verge.

Apple has reportedly been working hard on creating VR versions of some of its native apps, including Safari, FaceTime, Apple TV, Apple Books, Freeform, and more, according to reports. Additionally, it can have a feature that let the headset work as an external display for your Mac. Apple’s headset is projected to cost roughly $3,000, so it won’t be cheap. We probably won’t see cheaper variants of the device at this year’s presentation, despite the fact that Apple is allegedly also working on them.

There have already been signs that Apple might be planning to reveal its “Reality Pro” headset at WWDC, as the company has sent out an invite to an editor at the VR-focused outlet UploadVR. Apple has also posted an AR teaser on its site, which shows a thin, film-like Apple logo with the date of WWDC wherever you point your iPhone or iPad’s camera.

According to The Verge, WWDC is an event for developers, which means we’re bound to see some updates to iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and more.

Premium products like an Apple whole new operating system, a new MacBook Air, and a mixed reality (MR) headset will be unveiled during the five-day developers’ event.

The keynote address by Apple CEO Tim Cook is the event’s high point for developers.

The event will begin on June 5 (Monday) at 10:30 p.m. (IST) for the Indian audience. June 9 marks the conclusion of the developer event. (ANI)

 

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‘Diablo 4’ Patch Notes Bring Fast Barbarian, Druid, Rogue Nerfs, Necro Buffs

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It has been only a few days since the launch of Diablo 4, and while I knew that Blizzard was doing fast, reactive patches for the game, this is…a whole lot of balance changes to the game like 72 hours after launch. So much so that yeah, I’m thinking maybe they slow down a bit? It’s a lot.

My guess is some of this was sparked by the “world’s first” races to get to max level in the game, especially the hardcore race, and Blizzard believed some outlier skills were too strong. They also advertise some buffs in here, but it is overwhelmingly a good amount of nerfs. Here’s the list of changes to all classes:

BARBARIAN – Some pretty huge hits to Whirlwind Barbs, especially Gohr’s, which was creating a zillion explosions with activation and de-activation

  • Challenging Shout (Skill) – Damage Reduction gained from Skill Ranks reduced from 4% to 2%
  • Bold Chieftain’s Aspect – Cooldown reduction per Nearby enemy reduced from 2.7-5.4 seconds to 1.0-1.9 seconds. Maximum Cooldown reduction from 12 to 6 seconds.
  • Aspect of the Dire Whirlwind – Increased Critical Strike Chance per second reduced from 5-10% to 3-8%. Maximum Critical Strike Chance bonus reduced from 20-40% to 9-24%.
  • Gohr’s Devastating Grips (Unique Legendary) – Explosion damage gained from Whirlwind reduced from 50-70% to 16-26%. Damage against wreckable objects no longer increases explosion damage. Explosion damage is only increased by the first 100 hits of Whirlwind.

DRUID – This one is a mix of nerfs and buffs. Lightning-based builds in particular got a little bit of a buff, but there are definitely a lot of nerfs in here as well, which I’ve already seen some Druid players complaining about.

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  • Pulverize (Skill) – Lucky Hit Chance reduced from 33% to 25%.
  • Lightning Storm (Skill) – Damage increased from 32% to 40%.
  • Grizzly Rage (Skill) – Damage bonus increased from 5/10/15% to 6/12/18%.
  • Obsidian Slam (Specialization) – Kills required for bonus increased from 10 to 20.
  • Calm Before the Storm (Specialization) – Lucky Hit Chance reduced from 15% to 10%.
  • Electric Shock (Passive) – Damage bonus increased from 5/10/15% to 6/12/18%.
  • Shockwave Aspect – Damage reduced from 90-130% to 60-100%.
  • Crashstone Aspect – Critical Strike Damage reduced from 40-50% to 30-40%.
  • Lightning Dancer’s Aspect – Flat damage increased from .5-.6 to .7-.8.

NECROMANCER – Out of all the classes, Necro actually got the most buffs by far. Most of these are focused on minion buffs including damage buffs to both skeletons and Golems, including a huge swing on an Iron Golem skill. I guess they were underperforming compared to the other classes a bit.

  • Blood Lance (Skill) – Damage increased from 67.5% to 80%.
  • Army of the Dead (Skill) – Damage increased from 30% to 45%. Cooldown reduced from 90 to 70 seconds.
  • Blood Wave (Skill) – Damage increased from 90% to 120%.
  • Shadowblight (Passive) – Damage increased from 20% to 22%.
  • Grim Harvest (Passive) – Essence gained reduced from 3/6/9 to 2/4/6.
  • Serration (Passive) – Critical Strike Chance reduced from .5/1/1.5% to .3/.6/.9%.
  • Death’s Defense (Passive) – Maximum Minion Life lost in a single damage instance reduced from 75/60/45% to 60/45/30%.
  • Raise Skeleton (Specialization) – Skeleton Warrior attack damage increased by 10%.
  • Golem (Specialization) – Golem attack damage increased by 10%.
  • Blood Golem (Specialization) – Blood Golem Life drain damage increased from 40% to 90%. Blood Golem Life drain healing from enemies hit increased from 4% to 5%.
  • Iron Golem (Specialization) – Iron Golem slam damage increased from 25% to 175%. Iron Golem shockwave damage increased from 30% to 40%.
  • Hulking Monstrosity (Paragon Board) – Golem Life and damage bonus increased from 30% to 40% Life.
  • Cult Leader (Paragon Board) – Golem Life and damage bonus increased from 30% to 40% Life.

ROGUE – A couple buffs here, but the main thing is the decimation of the extremely popular Twisting Blades build, which was already emerging as a strong favorite. Too strong for Blizzard’s taste, and it’s getting hammered pretty hard here.

  • Twisting Blades (Skill) – Advanced Twisting Blades Cooldown reduction per enemy hit reduced from .25 to .1 seconds. Advanced Twisting Blades maximum Cooldown reduction reduced from 3 to 2 seconds.
  • Rapid Fire (Skill) – Damage increased from 24% to 30%.
  • Dark Shroud (Skill) – Damage Reduction per shadow gained from Skill Ranks reduced from .8% to .4%.
  • Dash (Skill) – Enhanced Dash Critical Strike Damage bonus from 20% to 15%.
  • Caltrops (Skill) – Damage increased from 30% to 40%.
  • Concussive (Passive) – Critical Strike Chance reduced from 5/10/15% to 4/8/12%.
  • Repeating (Affix) – Maximum Minion Life lost in a single damage instance reduced from 75/60/45% to 60/45/30%.

SORCERER – Sorcerer was barely touched. Either they think it’s pretty balanced or they haven’t had much time to dig into its potential issues yet. But no destroyed builds via nerfs here.

  • Arc Lash (Skill) – Lucky Hit Chance reduced from 30% to 14%. Glinting Arc Lash Cooldown reduction reduced from .25 to .15 seconds.
  • Teleport (Skill) – Shimmering Teleport’s Damage Reduction duration reduced from 5 to 3 seconds.
  • Aspect of Control – Bonus damage reduced from 30-40% to 25-35%.

PARAGON BOARDS – There are some huge, overall changes to Paragon Boards, where Blizzard thought that Glyphs were way, way too strong so they are getting somewhat slaughtered:

  • Rare Nodes – Player Attack Speed nodes reduced by 50%.

Glyphs:

  • All Glyph Bonus scaling has been reduced by ~34%, except for the following:
  • Critical Strike Damage Glyphs’ Bonus reduced by ~66%.
  • Vulnerable Glyphs’ Bonus reduced by ~66%.
  • Glyphs’ Bonus to Rare nodes reduced by ~50%.
  • Glyphs’ Bonus to Magic nodes reduced by ~40%.
  • Glyphs’ Bonus to Cold/Fire/Lightning/Non-Physical/Physical nodes reduced by ~62.5%.

Most players are probably not even touching the Glyph system yet, so this is super hardcore speed levelers and their super builds, but I know many are not happy.

So, too many nerfs too soon? I guess we’ll find out.

 

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