Pardo parses the new Battle.net

BlizzCon 2009: Blizzard VP of game design reveals persistent profiles, premium Starcraft II maps, more for Blizzard's online service.

Who Was There: Blizzard executive vice president of game design Rob Pardo led the Starcraft II Battle.net panel, with Battle.net project director Greg Canessa also lending insight.

What They Talked About: Battle.net has the dubious distinction of taking the fall for Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty's delay into the first half of 2010. That's quite a burden to carry, considering there are an estimated 6 million eager gamers waiting to wade into Blizzard's interstellar real-time strategy warfare game.

Battle.net's new log-in screen loads up with Starcraft II.

So is the revamp to Blizzard's online networking service going to be worth the wait? According to Rob Pardo, the answer is in the affirmative, and the gaming executive delineated just why during a Starcraft II Battle.net panel today in Anaheim at BlizzCon 2009. Pardo began by emphasizing the importance of Battle.net, saying that with its 12 million users, the service outranks even World of Warcraft in terms of popularity.

However, Battle.net hasn't seen a significant update since 2003, and the changes in store are substantial. Breaking the revamp down into three core segments, Pardo began by emphasizing the "always connected experience." After noting that Battle.net has been seamlessly combined with Starcraft II, Pardo said that the service will feature persistent character profiles, which won't be deleted if a user's account is dormant for an extended period of time.

Pardo then showed the intro screen to Starcraft II, noting that players will be prompted to sign in as soon as they load the game. The launcher looks much like that of World of Warcraft, with players able to either jump into the single-player campaign or check out news and other announcements. Pardo then hit the single-player button, and players were offered the choice of going directly into the campaign or testing their skills in a skirmish or challenge mode.

Even in the single-player game, players would still be connected to their friends list, and other features such as achievements, stats, and match history were also available. Pardo then showed off a few interesting features in Starcraft II, including the ability to watch game replays as well as rewind said replays. Achievements will also be available in this mode, with these awards being the way players unlock player avatars and decals that can be placed on in-game units.

Once logged in, players can learn more than just Starcraft happenings.

Pardo then shifted to the second core Battle.net tenet, what he called "the competitive arena for everyone." One of the detriments of the old Battle.net was that matchmaking often pitted veteran gamers against those just learning to play. To alleviate this issue, Pardo introduced a new ranking structure that divided the player base into leagues. After between 10 and 12 games, players will be fitted into a league, where they are ranked against competitors of equal skill. Because of the new persistent profiles, players will also be prevented from gaming the system, he said.

The final core value of Battle.net is to connect the entire Blizzard community, joining WOW, Starcraft, and Diablo players under one roof, much like BlizzCon. The primary way this will be done is through the Battle.net Real ID, which lets players talk to their friends across games and across realms in WOW. The achievement system will also span all Blizzard games, and players will be able to toggle how names appear in their friends lists.

Pardo noted that privacy options and parental controls will all be incorporated into the Real ID feature, and players will have to opt in for friend invites. Players will also have control over how much information they share with others.

Starcraft II's single-player player screen offers a number of options.

The Blizzard executive then moved on to the custom map community. According to Pardo, the Starcraft II map editor will be more powerful than the one that was available in Warcraft III. Map publishing will also be easier, he said, as players can now publish their work on Battle.net, where other players can browse it. Beyond the launch of Battle.net, Pardo said premium maps will be available, where players have the option to charge for their work. A portion of the revenues then go to the creator, with Blizzard also taking a cut.

This option, in particular, has potential, according to Pardo, because it will attract the creme de la creme of amateur game designers to create content for Starcraft II.

Quote: "If people have a budget, look at what they can create."--Rob Pardo, in justifying the forthcoming premium custom map options.

Takeaway: While it may not be enough to justify Starcraft II's delay for the most hardcore of audiences, it appears as if Blizzard's improvements to the Battle.net service will have a lasting effect on how the company's games are played. Though slated to arrive after the launch of the service, premium custom maps have the potential to extend the life of Starcraft II. Gamers will undoubtedly be happy to know that they will be able to communicate with friends across games, as well.

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189 comments
Squeegeez
Squeegeez

I will buy this day 1. I will enjoy lan with my friends (I have an internet connection...) I'm always online with 0 downtime, so i don't mind being online for single player. Depends on the incentives for the 2nd/3rd campaigns, i may pirate them, but if the incentives are good i might as well just buy the games with all the money i saved from previous piracies =P I will download pirated versions of the custom maps. Heck, i'm just going to throw it out there that custom maps are my favourite part of most games. I will still smurf on Bnet, via a 2nd copy my brother will purchase then get bored of multiplayer, thus giving me an endless loop on his CD key of 'delete my account', 'create new account'.

philby00
philby00

"Pardo then showed the intro screen to Starcraft II, noting that players will be prompted to sign in as soon as they load the game. The launcher looks much like that of World of Warcraft, with players able to either jump into the single-player campaign or check out news and other announcements" so no lan events and now i have to connect online just to start the game? even if i don't want to play online?? argh

Chosen_of_Chaos
Chosen_of_Chaos

I feel like Blizzard is trying to compete with other companies that they are already better than, or at least used to be better than. Steam is great, I use it for all my PC games, but I think that Blizzard wants to be the new THQ/ EA Games and rape their games for all tje money they can get. Personally, I have lost all my faith in Blizzard. And what about those of us with more than one computer and the only computer that can run Starcraft 2 isn't the computer attached to the internet? I feel Blizzard is trying to hard to go after Microsoft and Valve, it was because of WOW that Warhammer: Age of Reconning did so poorly. Had Wrath of the Lich King come out much later then I think Blizzard might not have as many people to make a statistic out of. I don't know about anybody else, but I think that I'll just play Starcraft and Warcraft 3 from now on. And to think my childhood dream was to program games for Blizzard, just glad the rest of my childhood sucked so I can just forget it all.

Overseer76
Overseer76

Oh, and I LOVE the idea that those hard working souls who put together awesome second-party content have a way to finally get paid for their contributions (albeit with a royalties caveat). Why is everyone bit-- complaining? I still haven't even started certain downloaded Neverwinter Nights campaigns.

Overseer76
Overseer76

Quote: "Gamers will undoubtedly be happy to know that they will be able to communicate with friends across games, as well." Well, of course. Because if you aren't playing a Blizzard game or a Valve/Steam game on your PC, then what are you playing?

swamptick
swamptick

Blizzard knows what's up. If you don't like it, go play something else.

InExcelsis
InExcelsis

Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 are going to be two of the greatest games of all time just look at their previous installments and Blizzard can only build on those and make them better considering they have never made a bad game.

zuljin11
zuljin11

With Diablo 3, Starcraft 2 and WOW all under one roof Battle.net looks like a nicer place to live than the real world. I might just have to start playing WOW again in preparation. Oh and to tell my G/f I won't be around much for a couple of months.

diorj
diorj

Paying for maps.......Always online just to play single player. Thats a dealbreaker for me.

Pete5506
Pete5506

I hope this turn out well, this could be a bad thing for starcraft 2

Trogeton
Trogeton

good news for starcraft fans

NoLifeGamin
NoLifeGamin

a better map editor!? then that means.....STARCRAFT-DOTA!!!! LOLOLOLOLOL jk that will never happen :D...but maybe a tower defense map is possible? O_O

chriscox121
chriscox121

paying for extra maps dividing the game into three and charging for each one. tut tut blizzard what are you doing

Darkness7089
Darkness7089

@ metalhead004 New games are ALWAYS 60$. It doesn't take much math to realize that 60 x 3 = 180. It might even be near of 200 if they go for 65$ each. It wouldn't surprise me one bit. This being "anti piracy" as you are claiming is actually supporting piracy. I'd buy 1 copy for my CD key, I've no reason to buy the other 2 since I could just pirate them off demonoid for the campaigns and still have my CD key for Bnet. Only reason to buy most games is for the CD key online, campaigns you can just download. Anyone that buys all 3 copies of this is an idiot. People like Rob Pardo I used to respect from their previous works, now if I saw them I'd punch them in the face. They don't care about the fanbase anymore, only the money. I bet he's driving a 250 thousand$ car and living in a mansion with a helicopter on it.

Darkness7089
Darkness7089

Blizzard didn't used to be such a pile of greedy pricks, only after the money poured in from WoW did they get corrupted. Pre 2004's WoW it was a decent company releasing quality games without the intent to milk a fanbase for all its worth with cheap tricks or gimp/broken features. With all the money they make off of WoW you'd expect their next game to be really good or downright awesome. But instead you're getting a game broken up until 3 pieces just so they can charge 180$ for it, with no LAN just so they can put in less effort. On top of it, Bnet has been announced as not being anymore advanced than Xbox Live. Where's my Ghost features!? why aren't they going in the game!? Has Blizzard ever played War3 since 2004? Join a Ghost hosted game on War3. Auto start/RM with no host even there, ping caps to keep out laggers, no retarded lagg box, less RF spam, IP Banlist to keep out the scum of bnet, it goes on and on, ya... where's THOSE features blizzard!? But instead of great things like all that, we get a paid map feature that they throw in there just so they can get more money. Here's to hoping the masters behind Ghost quickly make a SC2 version to make up for all of SC2's hosting faults, cus Blizzard's standards still hasn't caught up to ours. ... ??? I'll be a guy that hacks those premium maps and rehosts them as free for everyone. Suck on that Blizzard, you've got enough money from WoW, leave the SC fans alone.

zer0ne
zer0ne

It's up for the consumer to cough up the dough for premium maps. If the consumer don't want to buy, they still able to play the default sets of maps. I only dread if Blizzard charge players for playing online like XBox Live as, their Gold member need to pay subscription to play with friends online.

zaibutzu
zaibutzu

no lan is included that's it i'm boycotting this game

Toxic22
Toxic22

Calm down people. Bnet wont be under a subscription service like WoW because it wont cost nearly as much to maintain. Anyone crying about the OPTIONAL premium map packs should realize that unless the map is super fantastic then it will most likely be free.

Wolfie600
Wolfie600

People will always complain about anything so people move along, Let the kids whine all they want and just play the game. Its a shame that no lan is included but whatever, I will still end up buying only the game itself.

solidstein
solidstein

you all have to remember that its not blizzard anymore is activision at the helm of blizzard so stop getting mad at them

alvaro_pg
alvaro_pg

Why are ppl complaining about the price of the game and OPTIONAL premium maps? is it because you were all thinking of d/ling the game from the piratebay or something? "Blizz has gone corporate gg" Wake up ppl, Blizzard has always been a greedy corporation whose main goal is to actually make money, and the reason why they make so much money is because they make kick a** games. W/o corporations like blizzard or any of the big gaming companies we would never get masterpieces like Diablo, Starcraft, The elder scrolls, etc etc and we would have to settle for indie stuff like Plants vs. Zombies for eternity. And don't get me wrong, plants vs. zombies is a lot of fun, but you can't really compare it to stuff like warcraft, for example. I think ppl just dont get that PC gaming is going to die for good if companies like Blizzard dont do something to protect their intellectual property. Blizzard has always delivered quality games and I doubt this game will be any different.

BlueRaptor7
BlueRaptor7

Not to mention, anyone who really wants to get their full share of SC2 will have to buy three, individual, boxed products? Welcome to corporate America, Blizz. Thanks for being cool to us gamers up until now.

BlueRaptor7
BlueRaptor7

So... No LAN, and we can be charged for maps. Blizz makes ~$165 million a month from WoW. ... ???

Dawg9000
Dawg9000

They already took away lan. If Battle.net is turned into a subscription service then they'll just throw money out the window. They probably already lost enough people with the exclusion of lan.

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

@valuum if anything, it would be the prepubescent forum goers that WOULDN'T complain as they are growing up with this trend of nickle and diming at every turn and are likely used to it. Its the older crowd (I'm 23) that grew up with Blizzard and watched them turn, quite literally, into Activision, that would be the most upset. Starcraft and Warcraft 3 were labors of love, this is purely about the money, that is why there are so many complaints.

rockutd
rockutd

Wow, sounds nice.But there are many A**holes on bnet.How do you do with that?

Gooshnads
Gooshnads

map makers making money off it... a problem that i do have with the idea.. i mean custom maps with like the maze maps they use to have on SC 1 (i forget what they were called) but what of those!?

Gooshnads
Gooshnads

So.. will Diablo 2 accounts / WC3 accounts STILL work with bnet? =]

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

I think this idea of premium maps is inspired by the phenomenon known at DotA. I'm not a fan of it and won't be buying a single premium map.

valuum
valuum

I won't be purchasing any premium content. That's my decision. But I refuse to whine about it, unlike the prepubescent pit of bellyachers that is the Gamespot Community.

finaleve
finaleve

metalhead004 > I believe the "180" figure came from the pricing of today's standards, though PC gaming hasn't exactly hit that marker of 60 a pop (since SC2 is supposed to be a 3 part game). Premium maps pretty much sounds like its going to cost money, otherwise it wouldn't be premium, but yes, no where does it say you have to buy them. Battle.net has only been rumored to be a monthly fee. But this is pretty much what Bliz has been doing. I am hoping they keep the formula of what the previous Bliz games have in terms of playing (resort to CD-Keys to keep people from playing online). I dislike the idea of playing single player games when playing online, though if they pull the method of "register and play whenever/wherever afterwards", I'd be fine, but I doubt thats going to happen, much like Half-Life 2 started. I'd rather see it offline as best as possible. Chinothedeftone> PC gamers get the nice because PC gamers find ways to get it anyways, however, most of the "free content" is made because it's simple and not worth charging. Map packs cost on the consoles because thats somewhat M$ and PS3's way to score some extra cash in their pockets, and have developers steer clear from releasing things like "expansions" or the sort.

metalhead004
metalhead004

@ 2bitsmokey. Ok first off, Blizzard hasn't announced pricing. So you're pulling this "180 dollar" figure out your butt. Secondly, paying for maps is OPTIONAL. Nowhere is it stated that anyone obligated to pay for maps, and not all premium maps are going to cost money. Also Blizzard has never said battle.net will have a monthly fee. All I see is you spewing a bunch of FUD in your post. This is pretty much the future of PC gaming, thanks to things like piracy. Companies who are going to be PC-exclusive are going to have to do things to protect their titles. That is just how it is, and how it is going to be. If you don't like it, buy an XBox 360 or PS3. The rest of us will adapt and move on.

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

@metalhead004 so by modernizing their approach, you mean spamming people's wallets at every turn? They are pulling out every single money making trick in the book, and from what I understand the whole paying a monthly fee for battle.net issue is still up in the air. 180 bucks for sc2, pay for maps, no lan support, possible monthly fee just to play the game, next up is you have to pay real money for unit upgrades, or better yet, for units period. 5 bucks every marine you make. No no no, they can't go overboard with bending their fan base over, they will just take it to the limit apparently. Blizzard has officially gone corporate, gg....

waffle57
waffle57

By premium maps, you mean maps that one person will buy, then release onto the internet for everyone to download for free?

Feibie
Feibie

loolooiooll whatchu talking about willis?

WorldMusc_basic
WorldMusc_basic

This game will be just like company of heroes gold. Upon installation it automatically tests to see if you are connected to the internet. If you don't have the internet get ready for all the hoops you'll have to jump through just to play singleplayer even. Very disappointing.

Hydrolix
Hydrolix

@ShinwaOkami It's not that bad. This is how Blizzard is going to thwart cheating and pirating. The game will contain no DRM because of this feature. Besides, its not that new or invasive. Half-Life 2 did the same thing a LONG time ago.

Chinothedeftone
Chinothedeftone

@ianrich: I would actually pay for really good fanmade maps. PC gamers are kind of spoiled with free stuff in my opinion, on consoles map packs alway cost. Who's to say fanmade can't be on par or even better than "official" ones?

ShinwaOkami
ShinwaOkami

So, another game I have to sign into just to enjoy playing it period? I'm sorry. If I want to play some single player I shouldn't have to even consider Battle.net Dawn of War 2 did the same thing and it plagues the game. If there is any kind of problem with the service, game or Bnet then your screwed to play it.

ianrich
ianrich

nobody will pay for fanmade maps, most people only download fanmade content that is popular and the only ones that will become popular will be the free ones.

NobleEskimo
NobleEskimo

@hardbizkit I'm trying my best to figure out what you comment is supposed to mean... all I see is his ach. score at 30/75 overall. Am I missing something?

drunken_munki
drunken_munki

So if me and three mates wanted to play a 'premium map' then all four of us would need to purchase it? lol. Congrats you just killed yourself.

Rattlesnake_8
Rattlesnake_8

"The mod community is very important to us".. im betting out of the "premium" maps sold, they get a profit. I'll be sticking with the free maps. I dont believe in paying for extra maps etc after spending top dollar on a new game. He talks about full blown mods like CS and DOD.. they were free and ended up being money makers for the developers. There is a big difference between a free mod than was hugely popular and made money for the devs, and charging money straight off the bat for a map that you'll have no idea if its actually good or not.

hardbizkit
hardbizkit

Anyone else notice his achievement score was... nevermind

_Rye_
_Rye_

This Blizzcon sucked for Starcraft 2 news didnt see no new videos, single player campaign, changes to units, hardly any new units or seeing full zerg tree, when beta starts, more indepth on the story. Guess we got to see Battle.Net none the less =/

Darkness7089
Darkness7089

@ ThreeVo(a real idiot) You enjoy paying 180-200$ for 1 game then. The rest of us will save our money. Basically blizzard is just promoting piracy with this attempt. With 1 game it's gunna be bought for the CD key regardless. With 3... any logical guy will buy 1 for the key, then pirate the other 2 for the campaigns. As for your "cramming", it's called a multiple disc install, ever heard of it? 1 game also takes up less space than 3 copies of 1 game. Like Warhammer 20k did with its standalones... terrible space eaters... but yet I'd need original and Soulstorm to access original campaign and all the races, which is 2 copies of the game... taking twice the space for no reason.