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    Battle.net 2.0 – The Next Generation Gaming Network

    There has not been much information available on the new Battle.net that will launch with StarCraft II, and will host “great” changes to how we perceive online gaming – as told to us by Blizzard. Battle.net 2.0 will aim to be the next generation gaming network, just as Battle.net has been in the past, and will be adapted to the new Blizzard games that are being released over the next couple of years.

    It is apparent that Blizzard are unwilling to disclose anything about Battle.net 2.0, as it will be shown in full force around the beta testing of StarCraft II. As we all have come to know Blizzard, they like to make a big deal out of things, and this is probably a really big deal to warrant such a low profile for a project that isn’t ‘even’ a full new game. I’m not hearing many players complain though; I guess we all like Blizzard’s ‘big deals’!

    For these Battle.net articles (of which you are reading the first piece) we will look a bit closer at what made Battle.net so great to begin with, as well as how it evolved and in what direction it’s heading. We will of course also talk about Battle.net 2.0. The best way of doing all this is naturally to look back, and get a good overview of this almost legendary game network. Here is a short summary of the last 11 years of Battle.net:

    Battle.net Launch – 1997
    • First ever gaming service to be incorporated into a game itself, and FREE!
    • Chat with simple IRC-like commands, channels and whispers, even inside games.
    • Up to 4 players per game. Join/leave games with anyone in the world, set password.
    • (Data stored on hard drive, very easy to hack).
    • Website with help, as well as a forum.
    Battle.net Revamp with StarCraft – 1998
    • Up to 8 players in a StarCraft game, with a number of game types for preference.
    • Ladder features and ranking.
    • Possible to speak to players of other games.
    Battle.net Revamp with Diablo II – 2000
    • Move games onto the Battle.net servers. Cheating dropped significantly.
    • New avatars showing players as they look ingame.
    • Extended ladder support, including “Hardcore” gameplay.
    Battle.net Revamp with WarCraft III – 2002
    • Still one of the best gaming services available. Still free.
    • Friend System
    • Automatic/Anonymous Matchmaking. Reduced win-trading.
    • Selectable chatroom icons unlocked from player’s wins.
    • Friends list to keep contact with your friends.
    • Clan support.
    Battle.net Addition with Frozen Throne – 2003
    • Automated Tournaments.
    Battle.net Status – 2004
    • Active user count: Nearly 12 million
    • User hours spent per day: 2.1 million hours
    • Average concurrent users: 200,000
    • Peak concurrent users: 400,000

    While we don’t have any figures for Battle.net today, we can probably assume that the numbers are even greater, despite lack of new Battle.net games released since 2003. Talking to Pendragon, the admin of DotA-Allstars, about the immensely popular WarCraft III mod DotA he told us that that mod alone has probably around 10 million active players right now! With the announcement of StarCraft II and Diablo III, sales of StarCraft I and Diablo II have gone up enough to hit the top-10 sales lists around the world. Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 has sold some 18.5 million boxes to date, and StarCraft isn’t far behind. Needless to say, Battle.net is big. Another obvious fact is that Battle.net has evolved during the last ten years to be increasingly more useful for the players.

    What then makes all these gamers come to Battle.net instead of starting their own private servers in droves? Read about the current strengths and weaknesses of Battle.net on Page 2.

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