As mentioned in theabout Blizzard’s game network, most of Battle.net 2.0 is still tightly under wraps, and while the Diablo III forum spam we have seen for the past month has been most annoying, a complete solution to that problem will wait until StarCraft II’s release, sources tell us. This is of course unfortunate, but if the situation slips out of control completely, Blizzard will do something drastic, like software upgrades, or closing down the forums and reserve it for ‘blue’ posts. Regardless, the next version of Battle.net should be upon us soon and this is what we have been able to squeeze out of Blizzard reps that WILL be in the gaming network:
Definite Battle.net 2.0 Features
Improved Battle.net In-Game Functionality
Any quote from Blizzard clearly states that while they won’t talk much about Battle.net 2.0, we will be blown away or be very impressed. It’s a given that all current features for Battle.net will be included – and improved! Blizzard has said they have learned a lot from WoW on infrastructure, and features from WoW will definitely also be seen. So Battlenet 2.0 WILL feature:
[*]Channels and Chat in-game
[*]Ladders and Rankings, secured against cheating.
[*]Extended stats, with possibility to see who D/C etc (source)
[*]Avatars, Images and Icons to represent yourself
[*]Diablo III Hardcore mode
[*]Friends/Ignore Lists with advanced management (see accounts below)
As an example, we just found out that Diablo III players will possibly deal with all their trading directly by whispers in the new network. With this in mind, we can expect many simple and useful features directly in the system.
Just like in WoW, Achievements will be added to Diablo II and StarCraft III. Achievements such as “Win 100 StarCraft II games”, or “Level your character to 100” are the new way of playing online and will be recorded on Account basis. Blizzard have explained that all games’ Achievements will give a score that stacks to give you a “Blizzard level”. Whether these features will be available only for new games, or all Blizzard’s Battle.net games is unknown but it seems likely they will only be available in new releases. A preview of this system can be found in World of WarCraft, where testing is now commencing in the Wrath of the Lich King Beta.
Besides being entertaining, the purpose is also to bring people, as the Achievements will only be available online where they can be checked against cheating. It should be more fun online, even solo. Trading and co-op is just a bonus, and Jay Wilson that Diablo III won’t even contain any other networking functionality besides Battle.net.
In-Game Voice Chat
Especially mentioned for StarCraft II, but also a very likely feature in other games is VoIP (Voice over IP) or “Voice Chat”. The technology is already implemented in WoW, and has been promised as an example of what will come with Battle.net. It probably won’t replace Ventrilo/TeamSpeak for the active gamers, but a great new way to chat for those who don’t wish to use a third party program.
As Blizzard is learning from WoW when it comes to server infrastructure where they are battling hackers and exploiters, the new Battle.net will be built on programming that prevent any form of hacking or cheating. Taking several lessons from WoW in that regard, “duping” in Diablo III will be come impossible. Chris Sigaty promised me that they will ensure security as best we can, to keep it fair for all players. The Blizzard Accounts will also encourage people to be more responsible online.
We don’t have the details on what this means exactly; there will be support for eSports and those features will probably be available for custom tournaments or ladders as well. IPTV and broadcasted matches are likely features, but only StarCraft II is currently confirmed to have eSport support, with new and advanced replay mode, tournaments, leagues and spectator mode. Diablo III eSports are not unlikely, but we’ll see more when PvP combat is revealed. Either way, the eSports team would be in charge of it.
We are also talking about potential spectator’s functionality and things like that. We have an e-sports-team internally whose responsibility is to host the events that we run and also work for parties so that e-sports-team will be responsible for e-sport with StarCraft 2 as well.
Blizzard Accounts – Major Web Upgrade
If these “Blizzard Accounts” are the same as the current ones, or if they will be located on Battle.net is not yet revealed. Considering the handy integration with the Blizzard Store, it seems likely.
There is currently a web presence for the games today through Battle.net, but there is still room for improvement. Even Blizzard reps admit to that, and say: “Wait for B.net 2.0!”. Blizzard sources have said that they will make upgrades to the forums, and that these boards won’t be flooded with thousands of spam threads every so often. We’ll get to sort friends lists and other features directly on one control panel on the web – On Battle.net, or linked to it. A forum software like the WoW boards seems likely.
Even vBulletin now uses profile pages (example: Leord) for creating stronger bonds with the community, and the account at Battle.net will surely outdo that! It would have a registration similar to the Blizzard Store and possibly even tie in the store to the account for easy upgrades/purchases.
While we don’t know if the Accounts will be located on Battle.net, they will most likely be an integral part of the Battle.net experience, and linking together Achievements from WoW, StarCraft II and Diablo III. You would be able to register your games with the central account, and get to see all your stats as well as friends’ (or foes’). The account will probably be able to give you detailed stats of your games and characters, just like the World of WarCraft Armory.
Kaplan: Your ‘WoW’ score would be just one factor that will go into your Blizzard Level. And rather than call it a ’score,’ we just wanted it to be like you’re leveling up on Blizzard games… You’ll have this Blizzard identity, and you’ll be able to see things like ‘Oh, this guy was great at Diablo III, but he never played Starcraft and he was mediocre in WoW. That sort of thing.[/BLUE]
Online Responsibility 2.0
Accountability is another thing that comes with an account. If you use a hack, or try to maliciously exploit a game, you could be banned from not only your game, but all the social contacts, Achievement points and status that comes with it – perhaps even other games you have bought! While you would still be able to play offline, it’s a BIG step towards making people feel more responsible for their actions online. Add in personal ban lists, or alert lists of “bad” players, and you’ll realize you might want to behave online, or be left out!
Battle.net 2.0 Launch Date
Blizzard never give release dates (…any more! They used to, a long time ago), we do actually have an ETA on both Battle.net 2.0 and StarCraft II. Diablo III’s date is unfortunately still held in mystery, but we will probably get a better idea at BlizzCon 2008. We know that the first true peek of Battle.net 2.0 will be given at the latest by the StarCraft II release (more likely by the StarCraft II beta). The StarCraft II beta seems likely to start before the end of the year, so the new Battle.net will at least be available to try out by then. With this information, the definite release date of Battle.net 2.0 then really becomes a discussion of the StarCraft II release date, a few months from now we’ll be surfing it and counting the score points to our next “Blizzard Level”.
On the multiplayer side [of Diablo III], Battle.net isn’t ready to premiere yet, but we’ll have more about that in the coming months.