I was less than thrilled to hear about the new Battle.net. I commented on other blogs that this new Battle.net was five years too late. I don’t want every new game to launch with its own developer tie-in service. I want simplicity; consolidation. For me that was Steam. Sadly, Blizzard has shown no move towards Valve’s digital distribution platform and as Blizzard has always been a heavy box sales driven company, it’s a pipe dream. I don’t like the idea of Blizzard’s new toy, but it’s me that’s at fault, not the new Battle.net.
I can’t accept that I have to maintain an EA, Steam, Games for Windows Live, NCSoft, SOE Station, Galanet, Gamespy, Rockstar, Battle.net, and God knows what else account. Whatever happened to launching a game.exe, typing in a display name, and hitting play? Where the hell is the OpenID or Facebook Connect of PC games? Even my cherished Steam platform is becoming a hindrance as the majority of games I play do not integrate with my Steam login for multiplayer or friends tracking, meaning for the majority of games I own via Steam I am logging in twice to play (thank God for the invention of the auto login features).
Battle.net will be successful and heralded as an industry standard. It is a Blizzard product after all. However, I don’t like the trend of every publisher/developer having their own separate platform trying to lock me into or out of their games. Hopefully my complaint has been noted and quickly dismissed somewhere within this crazy landscape of what we call PC gaming.
The New Battle.net
With the "eye in the sky" opinion out the way, lets get to the new Battle.net. Ars Technica has a preview. It appears to have the usual Blizzard polish and is probably ready to go live now, but I suspect we won't see it until Starcraft 2 hits the shelves.
Nothing from the article is groundbreaking. The new Battle.net features streamlined matchmaking for Blizzard games with integrated social networking. It is what most expected and the Blizzard polish will seal the deal.
I almost kind of wish it was opened to more than just Blizzard games, but as a long time Steam (and Steamworks) observer, I understand that even giving access away to a digital platform for free doesn't mean any of the larger developers will pay it any attention. After all, that would be crazy. They can just make their own flavor!