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PC game creator to rework its multiplayer channel to provide a better social networking experience
We’re a decade into the 21st century and your company doesn’t make all its products work seamlessly with social networking sites? Who do you think you are?
Perhaps a bit bashful about the fact that its most social service isn’t really social at all considering the times, Blizzard Entertainment says that it will be massively overhauling Battle.net, as announced at the annual BlizzCon event that ended this weekend.
Battle.net is Blizzard’s highly successful multiplayer online game service, first launched in 1997—when founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg was only 12 years old. Back in those days, the channel had one simple purpose: to connect users in an online multiplayer gaming experience. Blizzard has come a long way since those early forays into multiplayer gaming, what with its massively successful MMORPG, World of Warcraft, a game played in an exclusively online environment.
Now, the game makers have decided, after taking a good hard look at the current online world, it’s time to revamp Battle.net for the age of social networking.
In a demo at the Blizzard conference, Blizzard executive VP of game design Rob Pardo demonstrated how “even before you play your first game you're already connected to the online community.” Setting the tone for the new Battle.net, he continues, “We really feel like we're in an online world.”
Profiles will track a user’s achievements, match history, and other cool features, like the ability to trade around maps. Searching for friends by their names will be made much easier and users will be able to publish “Toasts” or “broadcasts”—known as status updates to the rest of us. The coolest thing for the first game coming out, StarCraft II, will probably be the Marketplace, which Pardo describes as “a vibrant ecosystem of user-generated content, including multiplayer maps, single-player scenarios, challenges, themes, and more.”
Some are speculating that the new service will likely work with other social networking sites, like Twitter and Facebook, possibly allowing users to link shared content between them.
Responses from gamers on the Battle.net forums varied from the excited (“This is awesome, it's really going to change how we play Blizzard games....”) to the bitterly angry (“It's official. [StarCraft II] has been delayed until 2010 so that users can post their stats to their Facebook profile”) to the, of course, insightfully humorous (“I miss the days when I played games to get away from people”).
Nevertheless, for many of Blizzard’s fans, the company’s name has often been synonymous with high-quality games. These are gamers who are used to waiting a little longer for a more refined end result. As long as the upgraded Battle.net comes with a list of cool capabilities and doesn’t just emulate what all the best social networking sites already do, Blizzard is sure to please its fanbase.
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