Top 40 Place & Things in the media for 03/07/2019

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#1 Charlotte Russe EVERYTHING MUST GO: Nearly a month after #CharlotteRusse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the retailer announced it will go out of business – effective immediately. Sales start TODAY. 🏃‍♂️💨💨

EVERYTHING MUST GO: Nearly a month after #CharlotteRusse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the retailer announced it will go out of business - effective immediately. Sales start TODAY. 🏃‍♂️💨💨

275 Likes, 61 Comments - FOX 5 DC (@fox5dc) on Instagram: "EVERYTHING MUST GO: Nearly a month after #CharlotteRusse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the..."

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All Charlotte Russe stores closing, 'Going Out Of Business' sale happening now at all locations

Posted: 6:50 AM, Mar 07, 2019

Updated: 9:42 AM, Mar 07, 2019

By: Kelly Bazzle

Just one month after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, retailer Charlotte Russe has announced they will close all stores and the company has officially closed its online store as well.

The retailer's website says "our online store has closed, going out of business, sale starts March 7, all stores, all sales final." The going out of business sale starts Thursday, March 7, 2019 at all Charlotte Russe locations. There are ten Charlotte Russe stores in the Tampa Bay area and five in the Orlando area.

In February, the company announced their plans to close nearly 100 of their more than 500 stores. The stores are located primarily in malls and outlet centers.

Since the February 3, 2019 announcement that the company was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the company has been in talks with prospective buyers to avoid a liquidation of all of the company's assets.

It appears a deal has not been made for a buyer to take over the company's assets at this time, so a liquidation sale is now underway.

"In the event that a going-concern transaction is not selected as the highest or otherwise best bid following the conclusion of the auction, the Company will facilitate an orderly wind-down of all of its store locations and operations beginning on or about March 7, 2019," according to a press release from February 19, 2019. 

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#4 American Idol SPEECHLESS 😱 #AmericanIdol

SPEECHLESS 😱 #AmericanIdol

20.8k Likes, 1,128 Comments - American Idol (@americanidol) on Instagram: "SPEECHLESS 😱 #AmericanIdol"

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'American Idol' Recap: Alejandro Aranda Could Win This Season

3/7/2019 by Robbie Daw

ABC/Kelsey McNealAlejandro Aranda on American Idol. 

At the top of the second episode of the second season of American Idol 2.0 on Wednesday (Mar. 6) night, we’re flung back to Idaho to watch the second coming of Courtney Penry, who first tried for glory back in 2011. With a nickname like The Crazy Chicken Lady, this should go well.

For her latest audition, Chicken Lady, now 25, stomps her feet, claps her hands and whips her hair through Chris Stapleton’s “Parachute.” Her voice is too sharp, but judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan torture viewers by having her do another tune (“Girl Crush”). After pleading that she’s put in the work and gigs every weekend, Lady somehow gets a golden ticket.

Logan Johnson is a 20 year old from Boise, Idaho who emulated his older brother’s drug addiction and ended up hooked on painkillers. However, Logan announces to Lionel & Co. that he’s been sober for eight months before launching into, well, “Sober” by Demi Lovato. Before sending him through to Hollywood, Luke Inadvertently shades Demi by telling Logan he’ll really shine “when we get you good songs.”

We now go back to more auditions in L.A., where Eddie Island, 25, saunters in with an acoustic guitar adorned with googly eyes. Eddie is the “unofficial mayor of Nashville” -- something that happened, he explains, after he traveled to Nashville for a Paramore concert and simply never left the city. His performance of original song “Stay OK” prompts Luke to say, “I think you have to be in our life.”

In Louisville we meet 28-year-old strawberry farmer Kason Lester. Katy flirting with semi-handsome hopefuls during the audition process got old early on last season, but clearly she didn’t get the memo. Kason attempts Chris Janson’s country hit “Holdin’ Her,” and it’s mediocre. Naturally, he’s pushed on through to La La Land.

Karli Ryan is a 17 year old whose dream “is to become a star.” The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as we learn that Karli’s mom Chera auditioned for Idol 15 years prior. This should give all of us who actually watched Idol 15 years ago an existential crisis -- but just for a few seconds, because we’ve gotta get through this thing.

Anyway, Karli sings an original number called “Gimme Back My Heart” while playing piano, and draws a comparison to Kacey Musgraves from Katy. Alas, Karli hits a speed bump on her road to stardom, as it’s a no from everyone but Luke. Fame is a cruel mercenary, sweetie.

An overly long, cartoonish and borderline offensive chunk of time highlights Juan Pablo, 26, a rideshare driver from Mexico who now lives in Los Angeles. He croons a “painful, sad love-making song” in Spanish that causes Katy to faux-swoon and put on a Spanish accent. Everything about this segment screams “stereotype,” and the only redemption is that Juan Pablo is given a golden ticket.

Moving along, we meet Shayy, a 17 year old from Midlothian, Virginia who became legally blind a year ago due to a tumor in her brain that doctors were able to partially remove. Despite having to be led by hand in front of the judges, Shayy displays more confidence than a lot of the auditioning contestants we’ve seen thus far. Her moving rendition of Andra Day’s “Rise Up” gets Lionel to turn on the waterworks.

“You have what we cannot teach,” says Luke. “We cannot teach letting the music flow straight from the soul.” With that, Shay is off to Hollywood.

Two more gents make it through in the forms of Ethan Payne, 15, and Landen Knowlton, 23. Ethan is a kid from Macon, Georgia with cystic fibrosis, who once landed the opportunity to sing on stage with Luke Bryan -- something the two of them recreate for Ethan’s audition. Meanwhile, Tupelo army sergeant  Landen orders Katy and Luke to do push-ups in a yuk yuk bit before he gets his ticket. See you in Hollywood, fellas.

The appearance of Disney showtune-loving newlyweds Kimberly and Bernie is a throwback to the nastier, Simon Cowell-ier days of Idol, wherein laughs were conjured at the expense of clueless hopefuls. This particular pair stare unironically into each other’s eyes while belting out Cinderella tune “So This Is Love.” Honestly, it’s enough to make you want to microwave Tinkerbell. After their less than magical response from the judges, Kimberly and Bernie declare, “We may have gotten a no today, but we still have ‘happily ever after’ together.”

The night winds down with unassuming Alejandro Aranda from Pomona, California. He’s a warehouse worker who started busking in the streets four years ago and feels unqualified for Idol. His audition with original song “Out Loud,” however, tells another story, as he displays a voice and guitar-playing skills that visibly leave Luke in awe.

“You, my friend, are so talented, Lionel tells Alejandro. The judge then requests the 24 year old do one more song, on the piano, where he proves to be a multi-talent.

“I just feel like I’m in the presence of greatness,” Luke says. “It was like watching my favorite movie.” Katy adds, “I think you’re the winner. I think you’re really special.”

We’ll see Alejandro again in Hollywood. Until then, Idol returns on Sunday (March 10) with more audition antics.

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#6 American Idol Meet the American Idol Contestants Going to Hollywood – Episode 2 – American Idol 2019 on ABC

Meet the American Idol Contestants Going to Hollywood - Episode 2 - American Idol 2019 on ABC

Get to know the American Idol contestants who are going to Hollywood! Learn all about Courtney Penry, Logan Johnson, Eddie Island, Kason Lester, Juan Pablo, Shayy Winn, Landen Knowlton, Ethan Payne and Alejandro Aranda.

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#7 Arsenal F.C. • Stade Rennais F.C. • Unai Emery • 2018–19 UEFA Europa League • Premier League • Hatem Ben Arfa

Rennes vs Arsenal: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview

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The Gunners head to France aiming to put one foot into the last eight of the Europa League against their Ligue 1 hosts at Roazhon Park

Unai Emery's quest for his first slice of silverware at Arsenal continues on Thursday when they head to France for a first-leg tie with Rennes in the last 16 of the Europa League at Roazhon Park.

The Gunners are out of the equation in all domestic races at home in England now, meaning their only chance of success rests on their continental adventures.

It is a competition their manager knows well, having lifted the trophy in three consecutive seasons with Sevilla.

Article continues below

Their opponents will be no pushovers, however, despite their wavering Ligue 1 form and will be looking to turn to winger Hatem Ben Arfa for inspiration, who reunites with his former Paris Saint-Germain boss for the first time since he was frozen out at the Parc des Princes.

GameRennes vs ArsenalDateThursday, March 7Time5:55pm GMT / 12:55pm ET

TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch

In the United States (US), the game will be broadcast on Univision Deportes En Vivo and can be streamed via the B/R Live service.

US TV channelOnline streamUnivision Deportes En VivoB/R Live

In the UK, the game will be broadcast on BT Sport 3 and will be available for streaming on the BT Sport Live app.

UK TV channelOnline streamBT Sport 3BT Sport Live

Squads & Team News

PositionRennes squadGoalkeepersKoubek, Badiashile, GertmonasDefendersGelin, Da Silva, Mexer, Nyamsi, Bensebani, Doumbia, Diallo, ZeffaneMidfieldersBourigeaud, Grenier, Johansson, Janvier, Lauriente, Ben Arfa, Hunou, AndreForwardsSarr, Del Castillo

Julien Stephan may be without Ludovic Baal, Abdoulaye Diallo, James Lea Siliki and Jordan Siebatcheu, who are all doubts due to various niggles.

Rafik Guitane and Romain Danze are long-term absentees while M'Baye Niang and Hamari Traore are out through suspension.

Confirmed Rennes starting XI: Koubek; Zeffane, Da Silva, Mexer, Bensebani; Bourigeaud, Grenier, Andre, Sarr; Ben Arfa, Hunou

PositionArsenal squadGoalkeepersCech, Leno, MartinezDefendersKoscielny, Lichtsteiner, Jenkinson, Kolasinac, Medley, Pleguezuelo, MustafiMidfieldersElneny, Ramsey, Torreira, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Xhaka, WillockForwardsOzil, Iwobi, Saka, Aubameyang, Nketiah, Suarez, Mkhitaryan

Unai Emery hopes to have Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sead Kolasinac back though he will have to make do without Alexandre Lacazette.

The forward is currently serving a suspension while Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck and Hector Bellerin remain sidelined.

Confirmed Arsenal starting XI: Cech; Mustafi, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi; Aubameyang.

Betting & Match Odds

Arsenal are evens favourites to secure an advantage from the first leg, with odds of 1/1 at bet365 . Rennes are meanwhile priced at 3/1 while a draw is available at 13/5.

Click here to see more offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.

Match Preview

With their Premier League and FA Cup dreams in tatters, it’s not quite been the perfect start promised by Unai Emery’s unbeaten streak across the first half of the season at Arsenal.

Now, however, the Spaniard takes the Gunners back into European action, and into a competition he is well acquainted with success in; the Europa League.

A three-time winner across three consecutive season while in charge of Sevilla, the ex-Paris Saint-Germain coach knows how to deliver results in this tournament.

He will be looking to deliver his first piece of silverware at the Emirates Stadium come May if he can too, with a trip to old Ligue 1 rival Rennes the next step on the road to Baku.

The game will hand him a reunion with a former player too, the France international Hatem Ben Arfa, whom Emery coached – and subsequently froze out of the squad – while at PSG.

The potential of a frosty encounter between the two has dominated media coverage in the run up, along with the question of how Arsenal may cope without the suspended Alexandre Lacazette.

Both Rennes coach Julien Stephan and Emery were questioned on Ben Arfa earlier this week, with the former stating that he expected the 32-year-old to deal with the occasion well.

"Hatem has a lot of experience, he'll be able to handle it in a very smart way," the 38-year-old told reporters.

"We did not need to talk about it together and there are plenty of other topics to talk about before talking about that. It is Rennes against Arsenal in the Europa League, it is not Hatem against Emery.

"Champions are always present in this type of match and I'm sure Hatem will have a big game."

Emery was naturally more coy and gave a relatively neutral assessment of the attacking midfielder’s talent.

"He is a very good player. He is playing with a big performance," the Spaniard told reporters.

"We know they have good organisation, good players. One is Ben Arfa, we need to control his quality and skills.”

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#9 Arsenal F.C. • Stade Rennais F.C. • Unai Emery • 2018–19 UEFA Europa League • Premier League • Hatem Ben Arfa What to expect from Arsenal FC’s Europa League opponents Stade Rennais ? ● #AFC TV

What to expect from Arsenal FC's Europa League opponents Stade Rennais ? ● #AFC TV

Arsenal Daily News: https://goo.gl/SD7GcE Playlist: https://goo.gl/hLtBya --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What to expect from Arsenal FC's Europa League opponents Stade Rennais ? ● #AFC TV Following a good recent run of form on the domestic front, Arsenal resume their continental campaign on Thursday when they travel to Brittany to face Stade Rennais in their Europa League last-16 first leg tie.

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#10 Radford Highlanders men’s basketball • Presbyterian Blue Hose men’s basketball • Basketball • Big South Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament

2019 Men's Basketball Championship Seedings Finalized

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) – The seedings and pairings for next week’s Big South Conference Men’s Basketball Championship have been determined following the conclusion of the conference’s regular-season schedule this evening.  The top five teams earned byes into the quarterfinals.BRACKETCampbell and Radford shared the Big South regular-season championship at 12-4, and the Camels emerged as the No. 1 seed based on its season sweep of the Highlanders.  Campbell is the No. 1 seed for the first time during its Big South affiliation (1983-94, 2011-present), and also earned its first regular-season title as conference members.  It is the conference’s fourth time with co-champions in the past five seasons. In addition, the Camels have secured the Big South’s automatic bid to the NIT should they not win the tournament.As the No. 1 seed, Campbell will host the quarterfinals and semifinals, March 7-8, while the highest remaining seed will host the Championship game on Sunday, March 10 at 1:00pm on ESPN.  Tickets for the quarterfinals and semifinals can be purchased through the Campbell ticket office, and online atwww.gocamels.com/creekmadness.  Radford, the defending Big South Champion, is the No. 2 seed for the second consecutive year after winning a share of its first regular-season crown since 2008-09.  Winthrop and Gardner-Webb tied for third-place at 10-6.  As the teams split the season series, the next tie break was record against teams -- or group of tied teams -- at the top of the standings on down.  Winthrop is the No. 3 seed based on its 1-2 record against Campbell/Radford, while Gardner-Webb is the No. 4 seed after going 0-2.A four-way tie for fifth-place featured High Point, Charleston Southern, Presbyterian and Hampton all finish at 9-7 in league play.  The first multi-team tiebreaker of collective head-to-head records gave High Point the No. 5 seed based on its 4-0 record against CSU, PC and HU, with Charleston Southern receiving the No. 6 seed based on its 2-2 mark, compared to 1-3 records for both Presbyterian and Hampton.  Since that reduced PC and HU back to a two-way tie, the head-to-head tiebreaker gave the No. 7 seed to the Blue Hose for their regular-season win over the Pirates.  Hampton fell to the No. 8 line, followed byLongwood (5-11) at No. 9, UNC Asheville (2-14) at No. 10 and USC Upstate (1-14) at No. 11.First round action begins Tuesday night, March 5 at 7:00pm with No. 6 Charleston Southern hosting No. 11 USC Upstate, No. 7 Presbyterian hosting No. 10 UNC Asheville, and No. 8 Hampton hosting No. 9 Longwood.  The winners of each contest advances to Thursday’s quarterfinals round, which begins at 12:00pm at Gore Arena with No. 2 Radford facing the winner of Presbyterian/Asheville, followed by No. 3 Winthrop playing the winner of Charleston Southern/USC Upstate at 2:00pm.  The 6:00pm game will feature No. 1 Campbell vs. the winner of Hampton/Longwood, with No. 4 Gardner-Webb against No. 5 High Point at 8:00pm.The three first round games on March 5 will be broadcast live on ESPN3.  The 2019 Big South Men’s Basketball Championship will continue with the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 7 on ESPN3 and semifinals on Friday, March 8 on ESPN+.  The Championship game will be contested Sunday, March 10 live on ESPN at 1:00pm.  The Big South’s Tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  The Conference Championship schedule is as follows:First Round – Tuesday, March 5 – ESPN3Game 1: #10 UNC Asheville at #7 Presbyterian, 7:00pmGame 2: #11 USC Upstate at #6 Charleston Southern, 7:00pmGame 3: #9 Longwood at #8 Hampton, 7:00pmQuarterfinals – Thursday, March 7 – ESPN3Game 3: #2 Radford vs. #7/10 winner, 12:00pmGame 4: #3 Winthrop vs. #6/11 winner, 2:00pmGame 5: #1 Campbell vs. #8/9 winner, 6:00pmGame 6: #4 Gardner-Webb vs. #5 High Point, 8:00pmSemifinals - Friday, March 8 – ESPN+Game 7:  Semifinals – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 6:00pmGame 8:  Semifinals – Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 8:00pmChampionship - Sunday, March 10 – ESPNGame 9:  Championship – Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 1:00pm

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#12 Radford Highlanders men’s basketball • Presbyterian Blue Hose men’s basketball • Basketball • Big South Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Highlights: #2 Radford vs. #7 Presbyterian, Quarterfinal

Highlights: #2 Radford vs. #7 Presbyterian, Quarterfinal

Radford tops Presbyterian with a 84-76 win in the quarterfinal round of the 2019 Big South Men's Basketball Championship.

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#13 Inter Milan • 2018–19 UEFA Europa League • Radja Nainggolan • Eintracht Frankfurt • Luciano Spalletti • Mauro Icardi Frankfurt Vs Inter Milan Live Stream | UEFA Europa League 2019

Eintracht Frankfurt Vs Inter Milan Live Stream | UEFA Europa League 2019

"Live Streaming Eintracht Frankfurt Vs Inter Milan UEFA Europa League 2019 UEFA MATCH LIVE HD ▶▶ https://t.co/8Bjb0RcceG Match: Eintracht Frankfurt Vs Inter Milan Competition: UEFA Europa League 2019 Date: Thursday, March 7, 2019 | 12:55 Subscribe to my channel, Like and Share this Video Eintracht Frankfurt vs Inter Milan Eintracht

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Europa League: Inter Milan prepare for chaos in Frankfurt clash

It’s a tale of two front lines as Eintracht Frankfurt host Inter Milan in the Europa League round of 16. Frankfurt's attack has won praise this season, while Inter's has been making headlines for the wrong reasons.

    

"What kind of team is Eintracht Frankfurt?" Inter Milan coach Luciano Spaletti mused ahead of his side’s visit to Frankfurt on Thursday night. "I would say one that tends to play the game in a disorderly manner.” 

On the eve of a European knockout clash against Italian footballing royalty, most teams would be insulted to have their style described in such rudimentary terms by the opposition coach. Not Eintracht Frankfurt, though. Adi Hütter’s side are disorderly in all the right ways: solid at the back, hardworking in midfield but fabulously unpredictable in attack.

Frankfurt's magic marksmen

Chief among Spaletti’s concerns on Thursday evening will be the handling of Frankfurt’s forward line. In Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic, the Bundesliga side have an attacking trio to rival the very best in Europe. They’ve scored 47 goals between them across Frankfurt’s 34 matches so far this season with 12 arriving in eight European outings. They'll be without Rebic due to injury, but still have more than enough firepower to cause Inter problems. For Spaletti, the “disorder” Frankfurt create in attack makes them such difficult opponents.

Luka Jovic is the joint top scorer in the Bundesliga this season with 15 goals.

“They come at you from every angle,” Spaletti said of Frankfurt’s front line.  “There’s a rhythm they create with their energy and physicality. If you press them through the center, they just go wide. It will be one of those evenings when we need to do everything to survive.”

The disorderly style is owed to the willingness of all three players to pull wide and drag defenders out of position, creating space for the others to exploit. How Stefan De Vrij and Milan Skriniar, the Inter Milan center-backs, cope amid the chaos will be key in the first ever competitive match between these teams.

Inter's unruly attack

There’s an irony to being branded chaotic, even as a compliment, by the coach of Inter Milan. Spaletti oversees his fair share of disarray on a near daily basis. He will be without his star striker, Mauro Icardi, owing to a tumultuous contract dispute between the player, his wife-come-agent Wanda Nara and the club chairman Giuseppe Marotta.

Mauro Icardi will not feature for Inter Milan on Thursday.

Icardi was stripped of the captaincy last month and has failed to make the previous five matchday squads. His partner-agent, meanwhile, took it upon herself to burn photos of the two of them together and share the charred remains on social media last week. Spaletti, evidently, is dealing with a few unpredictable characters of his own.

It's by no means the first controversy surrounding Icardi, who, rumor has it, never wants to play for the club again, but Frankfurt center-back Martin Hinteregger has a considerably easier task on his hands without the Argentine leading the line on Thursday. Icardi is Inter’s top goalscorer this season with 15 goals in 28 outings. In his absence, the inexperienced Lautaro Martinez will fill-in.

View image on Twitter

Eintracht Frankfurt@eintracht_eng

 #Hinteregger: "We've showed that going forward we can score goals against anyone. Of course, it's just as important to keep a clean sheet at home in the first leg. For that to be the case, we'll need to prepare very well."#SGEuropa #SGEInter

77:35 AM - Mar 6, 2019

See Eintracht Frankfurt's other Tweets

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This is, by far, Frankfurt's biggest test on the European stage since they were knocked out of the same competition by Porto, a round earlier, in 2013. How they cope with the pressure will be just as big a factor when things kick off on Thursday night.

If Frankfurt's forward line can handle the pressure, however, one thing's for certain: chaos is very much guaranteed. 

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#14 Diablo • GOG.com • Blizzard Entertainment • Warcraft: Orcs & Humans

Blizzard

Blizzard updated their cover photo.

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The original ‘Diablo’ is now available on GOG.com'Warcraft: Orcs and Humans' and 'Warcraft 2' are soon to follow.Amrita Khalid2h ago in Services 3Comments     

Blizzard Entertainment

The original 1996 Diablo is now available for the first time digitally on GOG.com. Fans of Blizzard's classic RPG can choose between two modes; an old-school version with 20 FPS, SVGA graphics and Battle.net multiplayer support, or a more modern version with out-of-the-box Windows 10 compatibility, bug fixes and high-resolution support. Windows users can go to GOG.com and download the re-release for $9.99; there's no need to download the Blizzard app. Unfortunately, Mac users are left in the dust: The company told Engadget that this release is Windows-only and didn't say if it would create a Mac-friendly version of Diablo in the future.

Expect more games to come as a result of this new partnership between Blizzard and popular gaming marketplace GOG.com. A digital version of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and Warcraft 2 is in the works. Blizzard Entertainment would not confirm an exact date for the Warcraft releases to Engadget, only saying that it'll happen soon.

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#15

GOG.com

GOG.com updated their cover photo.

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Blizzard has handed Diablo 1’s keys to GOG, and you can buy it right now

We ask Blizzard and GOG what the heck is going on, test new "quality of life" updates.

SAM MACHKOVECH - 3/7/2019, 9:00 AM

EnlargeBlizzard / Aurich

88WITH 68 POSTERS PARTICIPATING, INCLUDING STORY AUTHOR

Two years ago, Blizzard announced its intention to release a series of remastered classic games, and so far, the company is making good on that promise. StarCraft Remastered launched as a solid, faithful recreation in August 2017, while Blizzard is still currently working on World of WarCraft Classic and WarCraft III: Reforged.

FURTHER READING

Amid layoffs, Blizzard won’t release a “major” new game in 2019That leaves one classic-minded Blizzard fanbase in the cold: the Diablo fans. These are the fans who, to some measure, let Blizzard have it after seeing the unveil of smartphone-only "freemium" game Diablo Immortal in place of any "Diablo IV" news at BlizzCon 2018. Which is to say: the word "Diablo" is a touchy one as of late.

Which brings us to today's seriously surprising news: Blizzard has just put Diablo 1 on sale digitally, a first for that 1996 game, with no prior announcement. It's not a remaster, per se, but it does come with some quality-of-life updates and is Blizzard's first DRM-free game launch in years.

What's more, Blizzard has handed the game's keys to a completely different storefront: GOG.com. This famously DRM-free marketplace is run by CD Projekt Group, the Polish company that also owns game developer CD Projekt Red (The Witcher). You'll have to go to GOG, not the Blizzard Launcher app, to purchase and download Diablo 1 (for $10, right here). Once you download the files, designed for Windows PCs, that's it—no online check-ins or CD keys required. All of that is a first for a Blizzard game sold as a digital download.

And it won't be the last. GOG has already announced that it will follow this Diablo launch with future re-releases of the first two WarCraft RTS games' original files.

We received this news roughly a week ago, and we're still doing that cartoon-like thing of shaking our heads rapidly, then rubbing our eyes, looking up, and saying, "huuuuuh?" But seriously, this out-of-nowhere release, mixed with an out-of-nowhere partnership, is real—and we've tested the results.

Diablo, meet “DX”

  • When you boot into GOG's version of Diablo 1, the top black box appears. Below that is the optional "DX video settings" menu, explained in the article below. Click through the gallery for comparison shots of the effects.
  • (You'll want to full-screen the gallery to perceive differences.) Integer scaling is enabled in this shot, to guarantee a proper pixel-placement ratio.
  • This image has MSAA and AFx16 enabled. It looks better in motion than in a still frame, but it's still not a great look for Diablo. Thanks for the option, anyway.
  • Integer scaling enabled. I'd prefer to stay for a while and listen with more pixels.
  • MSAA/AF enabled.
  • Integer scaling enabled.
  • MSAA/AF enabled.

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GOG's bundle comes packed with two versions of Diablo 1. The first is a "vanilla" version, which runs on the game's 1.09b codebase with only one noticeable tweak: a scaling fix to ensure that the game renders at its original 4:3 screen ratio, no matter your display size (even though it otherwise transforms your screen in a way that resizes background windows in Windows 10). In comparison, trying to run the game via a mix of the original CD-ROM and official patch files can lead to a stretchy screen, should you not install any third-party mods.

The second included version is a DirectX-fueled build of the game, whose extra tweaks were built entirely in-house by GOG. Among these are support for a variety of resolutions and refresh rates, a "borderless window" option, a v-sync toggle, a gamma slider, and a pair of visual filters: anisotropic filtering up to 16x and anti-aliasing up to 8x MSAA.

If a smeary-looking Diablo 1 experience sounds good to you, go ahead and toggle that MSAA. But purists will appreciate another option in the menus: "integer scaling," which guarantees that the game's original pixels map to a 1:1 ratio, in all of their pixellated, 16-bit color-depth glory. In GOG's "DX" version of Diablo 1, the anti-aliased version does feel slightly smoother in motion, but the game's art style and animations were never meant to be covered in pixel-obscuring Vaseline. Thus, make sure to enable integer scaling.

Should you wish to connect to online friends in the game's original Battle.net implementation, that requires running the vanilla build... and opening up some ports. You'll need to go through Windows menus and your router's settings table to open ports (specifically, 6112-6119, both TCP and UDP) before you can matchmake with friends in the game's ancient Battle.net chat-lobby system.

  • We're going back... to Battle.net. (All of the other listed multiplayer modes work in the "DX" version, but you'll need GOG's vanilla build to get into D1's Battle.net system.)
  • A rare occasion in which I didn't name my character "Butts" or something even sillier.
  • Read below for why we don't necessarily recommend doing this.
  • These are not the same credentials you use on the modern Blizzard launcher. And they don't require email authentication.
  • Use this IRC-like interface to connect with friends on Blizzard's official service.
  • Yes, they're still relying on this very antiquated "profile" page system.
  • Joining friends' games is a bit clunky, but so long as my tester and I were in the same chat channel, our games appeared in each other's interfaces. Just be warned: alt-tabbing out of Diablo 1's vanilla version is a pain, so get your VoIP of choice running before you launch a session.

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I matchmade with another tester to confirm that, once those ports are opened, you can expect perfectly solid Diablo-over-IP performance, along with some glitches that seem era-appropriate. In particular, my tester and I each used items in our inventory, only to find (on a very rare occasion) that their effect hadn't kicked in, yet we'd lost the item. Also, as the above gallery shows, the Battle.net interface of old is veeeery rudimentary. Gosh, it still includes "age," "sex," and "location" in its profile pages. The Internet-in-1996 jokes write themselves.

Punch a big hole in your firewall?

As for the security of playing this version of Diablo online via Battle.net, let me hand the proverbial mic to my Ars Technica colleague and Windows expert Peter Bright, who wrote the following portion:

The late '90s were a time before ubiquitous high-speed Internet connectivity, a time when online multiplayer gaming was still something of a novelty. While the Morris worm in 1988 had shown the problems that can arise when insecure code is exposed to hostile networks, it wouldn't be until the early 2000s that the lessons would truly start to be heeded by software developers.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Diablo network code contains bugs, and I would be absolutely astonished if it were free of remotely exploitable bugs. For single player, this is no big deal, because the game is fortunately so old that it doesn't even know how to request a firewall open some ports and allow inbound network traffic. But if you want to use the Battle.net multiplayer mode, you'll have no option but to punch a big hole in your firewall and forward traffic to the game and its inevitably insecure network code.

For modern applications, we have a number of protective systems to make it harder to exploit flawed code. We have different user privileges, so we can run applications as unprivileged user accounts that cannot make extensive modifications to our systems. We have Data Execution Prevention/No Execute/eXecute Disable (DEP/NX/XD; different names for the same thing) that prevents direct execution of malicious code injected by an attacker, and we have Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) and Control Flow Guard (CF Guard) to make it harder to trick an application into disabling DEP.

Diablo 1 predates all these measures and is incompatible with them. The application will attempt to elevate itself to have Administrator privileges each time it is run, thereby giving it full access to your system. It does not support DEP or ASLR, and if DEP is forcibly enabled, the game crashes on startup. Nor has it been recompiled to use CF Guard.

As such, running this game and opening up your network to it is going to make it extraordinarily easy to hack your computer. We have built numerous safeguards over the last 15 years to try to reduce the risks of exploitable network code, and this game removes all of them. I would not run it on any system I cared about, and I think it's grossly irresponsible to release it in this condition.

No rose-tinted glasses required

Beyond that heavy-duty caveat, it's classic Diablo, warts and all. This is 1996 we're talking about, and back then, online play didn't include niceties like the ability to see other co-op players on your mini-map. Meanwhile, 1996's single-player campaigns didn't automatically save their progress before you got your butt kicked on only the second floor of the dungeon.

FURTHER READING

Post-mortem: Ms. Pac-Man, Diablodissected by their original devsBlizzard North got a ton of stuff right in its first stab at the action-RPG genre, and the result is a game that, even at its most archaic, makes it very easy to get sucked into an all-night, dungeon-delving click-fest.

And you don't need rose-tinted glasses to respect how well much of Diablo 1 has aged. Its pixel art includes gleefully evil designs and moody, randomly generated levels, boosted with rudimentary lighting effects, while the sound design is unbelievably good. This soundtrack is an incredible combination of haunting melodies and crazy, atmospheric sound effects, and the voiced, snarling enemies all sound enjoyably insane.

But your heroes' animation suite is painfully rigid, which makes the basic, constant action of clicking around for combat and loot a bit of a nightmare once you know how much better that action can feel. Honestly, after tooling around in this re-released version of Diablo 1 for a couple of hours (and realizing how many errant and imprecise clicks I burnt through along the way), I got the urge to play Diablo II instead. Diablo II fixed pretty much every quibble from the first game while adding even more ridiculously awesome pixel art.

Thanks to a 2016 Diablo II patch from Blizzard, that's relatively easy to do on modern Windows PCs. Blizzard's Web storefront sells CD keys for both D2 and its Lord of Destruction expansion pack ($10 each), and then you can download a standalone EXE for either/both. But that sequel has its own quality-of-life limitations on modern machines, including a lack of proper resolution scaling beyond 800x600.

"We were bummed"

  • GOG's version comes with a few goodies, including FLAC and MP3 versions of the original soundtrack (yes) and a high-res scan of the original manual (yes). Enjoy a few of its pages in this gallery.
  • Get to know your classes.
  • Who does it from behind? Rogues do.
  • Sorcerer.
  • The opening page for the "spells" section.
  • The end of the spells section, up against the beginning of the Bestiary. (Blizzard can spell that word however it pleases, though.)
  • Sample beasts.

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When asked for comment, GOG's representatives referred us to the company's press release on the matter—which only includes one statement from a GOG executive, merely reminding shoppers that Diablo 1 has ranked highly on GOG users' request charts for some time. The same press release quotes Blizzard VP Rob Bridenbecker: "We were bummed that these iconic games weren't available to our players, so we're very happy to work with the crew at GOG.COM to rectify that."

Thankfully, Blizzard had more direct answers to our questions, including one biggie: why partner with GOG, as opposed to launching classic games on the Blizzard Launcher?

"In order to have any [software] on the Blizzard launcher, it must be connected to the modern Battle.net stack," Blizzard Global PR Manager Sara Zaidi said to Ars in an email interview. "Unfortunately, this means that some of our older titles, like Diablo 1, do not have that modern infrastructure that enables them to be on the Blizzard launcher. We didn’t think it was right that players couldn’t get access to these titles because they lack the necessary back-end framework, so we were very happy to work together with GOG to help make Diablo 1 available to our players on their platform."

Zaidi didn't go into specifics when asked why GOG built this week's DirectX-flavored build of Diablo 1, as opposed to an internal Blizzard team, beyond lauding GOG's reputation for "bringing updated versions of classic games to modern hardware." She also didn't have any news to offer about exactly when to expect news about GOG's launches of WarCraft 1 & 2.

Blizzard's official answers didn't hint to our previous guess for this release's timing: as an olive branch to the series' loudest current critics. Diablo Immortal's late-2018 reveal unleashed a maelstrom of complaints, even from fans attending its BlizzCon event, and Blizzard has since gone into hiding about the game. Once it returns to the spotlight, there's no telling whether it will still so loudly resemble the microtransaction-heavy, smartphone-only Diablo clones already made by its developer at NetEase. If that game is being delayed to get some smoothing over, then maybe Diablo 1 is a nice toy for fans to futz with in the meantime.

Let me be clear: I hold out hope that Diablo Immortal will deliver a faithful, engaging dungeon-crawling experience that's worthy of the series' name. That hope sits right next to my louder hope for a different kind of classic re-release: Diablo II, remastered, and based on that game's original, incredible sprite-art foundation. Hiring from as far back as 2015 suggests Blizzard wants that, too. But other Blizzard Classic games are ahead on the release calendar. What's a sullen Diablo fan to do in the meantime besides play Diablo III's solid Nintendo Switch port?

Blizzard's answer—a digital re-release of the original Diablo files—could be seen as a bit lazy. Just like the 2016 Diablo II patch, this one does little beyond bringing the series' first entry up to basic computer-compatibility standards (and even then, the albatross of ancient netcode remains). But there's also something great about a company as big as Activision-Blizzard just letting this game go, completely DRM-free, and giving fans $10 worth of nostalgia that doesn't require some modern game launching software. Like ma used to make.

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#16 Diablo • GOG.com • Blizzard Entertainment • Warcraft: Orcs & Humans

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft added a cover video.

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Blizzard is selling the original Diablo on GOG, not Battle.netMIKE MINOTTI@TOLKOTOMARCH 7, 2019 9:15 AM

Above: Diablo.

Image Credit: Blizzard

Blizzard and GOG announced today that the original Diablo is now for sale at GOG’s digital store. This makes the PC classic available via digital distribution for the first time.

Diablo costs $10 on GOG, and this version features Windows 10 compatibility and bug fixes. GOG is a digital store that specializes in classic PC games, but this is the first time that they’ve landed one of Blizzard’s titles. Blizzard has its own PC game launcher and store, Battle.net. But that hosts newer games (and remasters of older ones, like with StarCraft and the upcoming Warcraft III: Reforged).

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GOG is giving Blizzard’s older, un-remastered PC games a digital home. Along with Diablo, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness are coming to GOG at a later date.

“We were bummed that these iconic games weren’t available to our players, so we’re very happy to work with the crew at GOG.com to rectify that,” said Rob Bridenbecker, vice president and executive producer at Blizzard Entertainment, in a press release sent to GamesBeat. “This has been a long time coming and we hope our players will be excited to jump back into these classic titles.”

Diablo’s past and future

Diablo first came out for PC in 1996. It’s a landmark game, popularizing a style or action role-playing games that focuses on randomly-generated dungeons and collecting lots of loot with an over-the-head camera. It sold over 2.5 million copies.

It also started a big franchise for Blizzard. Diablo II followed in 2000, and Diablo III came out in 2012. The series has sold a combined 24.8 million copies.

Diablo’s future includes Blizzard’s first mobile game, Diablo: Immortal. It’s announcement last year caused anger with some Blizzard fans, some of which were hoping for a remaster of Diablo II or an announcement for Diablo IV. While this version of the original Diablo is not a full remaster, it can still give some of Blizzard’s hardcore fans a nostalgic (and non-mobile) experience.

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#17 Kingdom Hearts III • Star Wars • Marvel Comics • Tetsuya Nomura • The Walt Disney Company • Sora share

Kingdom Hearts III

Kingdom Hearts III updated their cover photo.

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THE REASON STAR WARS AND MARVEL AREN'T IN KINGDOM HEARTS 3 IS DISAPPOINTINGLY DULL

Simple and dull is the way that you’re making me feel tonight.

BY COLIN STEVENS

Though many of Disney’s properties have appeared in Kingdom Hearts games over the years, Star Wars and Marvel were noticeably absent from Kingdom Hearts 3 - and the reason why is, frankly, kind of boring.

Kingdom Hearts 3 Ultimania, the official companion book for the most recent Kingdom Hearts game, includes a special interview with director Tetsuya Nomura. Translated by Twitter user @lunesacree via KH13, Nomura reveals why properties from Marvel and Lucasfilm weren't included in the game, and it mostly boils down to contract complications - the same reason why Mickey Mouse was barely in the first Kingdom Hearts.

“In order to change those [properties] into a game, contracts must be made with each company separately, and there are cases where other game companies already have contracts, so although the Disney Group has indeed added those [properties], incorporating them into Kingdom Hearts isn't so simple,” said Nomura.

"That’s also the reason Mickey is in only one scene in Kingdom Hearts 1,” he continued. "At the same time, another company was releasing a game that had to do with Mickey, so though we were denied his usage, we persisted and eventually got 'as long as you only have one scene, from far away, as a silhouette, with him waving his hand or something.' Since we had to make the best of the biggest [and only] chance we had, that's why that scene appears that way."

Though we really wanted to see Star Wars and Marvel in Kingdom Hearts 3’s DLC, these comments make it seem less than likely - though certainly still possible. Nomura previously confirmed that both free and paid DLC is in the works for Kingdom Hearts 3.

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#18 Kingdom Hearts III • Star Wars • Marvel Comics • Tetsuya Nomura • The Walt Disney Company • Sora share Kingdom Hearts III – Episode 39『Thirteen Keys』

Kingdom Hearts III - Episode 39『Thirteen Keys』

Sora releases the hearts that are joined with his the battle between the Seven and Thirteen reaches its climax. Support the channel! ► https://www.patreon.com/KZXcellent Subscribe for more videos! ► http://bit.ly/1QCf13r Thumbnail art by Hawk ► https://twitter.com/RSizedBird Follow me on Twitter ► http://twitter.com/kzxcellent Check out my Livestreams ►https://www.twitch.tv/kzxcellent

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