During the Battle.Net 2.0 discussions at BlizzCon 2009 in Anaheim this weekend, Blizzard revealed their plans for BattleNet 2.0 which includes the ability to sell premium user created content, the Real ID system and much more.
Blizzard’s Rob Pardo talked about the Marketplace in BattleNet stating that they plan to have a “vibrant ecosystem of user-generated content, including multiplayer maps, single-player scenarios, challenges, themes, and more.” Although BattleNet will not launch with the MarketPlace in place to prevent any further delays to StarCraft 2, it is coming.
Blizzard are to go one step further though, and creative Battle.Net users will be able to sell maps on the system as either ‘free’ or ‘premium content’. Battle.net users will also be able to browse maps and even rate and comment on them within the Battle.Net system. Blizzard have said they are hoping for mod makers to use the game engine to create full game modifications like we have seen with Counter Strike, these are the sort of creations they are wanting to see sold as premium content.
Fans of Blizzard titles have been creating content for their games for years, whether it is StarCraft or Warcraft maps, or even mods for World of Warcraft. The community has supported Blizzard during this time by creating websites to distribute maps or mods, very much likehere at IncGamers. These community created sites has enabled WoW mod authors to make some money by accepting donations and given them a way to distribute their creations widely, but it looks like that will all change. Update: (Blizzard has since since this article was posted that it is unlikely WoW mods will be added to the system).
With mods such as the highly popular DOTA becoming an integral part of the Blizzard game experience for many, this new system could keep them tied in with Blizzard and gives them the outlet to sell their creations. The Marketplace could possibly even keep creative developers in the ‘Blizzard system’ instead of forming company’s such as RIOT Games who are currently working on League of Legends, a DOTA spin-off.
Blizzard also showed some of the other features to appear in battle.Net 2.0 which include the ability to chat to your friends while you’re in a game through their Real ID system. The beauty of Real ID is you can message your friends who may be playing completely different games removing the need to leave a game and load up another or jump on your favourite messenger.
Profiles will also track achievements so players can compare with your friends and achievements are said to be an improvement on the WoW achievement system. The achievements are also a way to receive avatars and decals which can be used on your profile in the Battle.Net service. Decals will be unlocked and will show up on your units in the game.
A group party system has also been added so players can hook up into a party area together, play a game, and when the game is over, all be back in the same party to either carry on playing together or go their separate ways.
There’s no doubt that Blizzard are creating the service to have mass appeal and make it simple to use by adding Facebook and even Twitter integration to the user profile system so it’s easy to find your friends outside of the videogame world that you may know by one of the above mentioned communities.
From what we have seen of Battle.Net 2.0 prior to and at BlizzCon 2009, Blizzard are being ambitious, and rightly so. They appear to be raising the bar with community integration on the PC platform. Microsoft has done it with Xbox LIVE so it’s great to see boundaries being pushed for PC gamers at last.