During August's BlizzCon 2009, Blizzard vice president of game design Rob Pardo laid out his vision for the future of Battle.net. After nearly six years without major changes, the online service is in the midst of a major overhaul--an overhaul that was partly to blame for Starcraft II being delayed until 2010.
Soon, Battle.net will be giving impatient Blizzard fans another reason to grumble. Blizzard has announced that, starting November 11, World of Warcraft will be accessible only through Battle.net. According to a post on the game's official Web site, players who do not have a Battle.net account must register with the service--at no charge--before they can join the 11-million-plus players in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
"A few months ago, we unveiled the Battle.net account, our new way for players to log in to World of Warcraft and future Blizzard games, sign up for upcoming beta tests, shop the online Blizzard Store, and more with just one username and password," read the Blizzard announcement. "This was just the first step in the rollout of the brand-new Battle.net; in the future, players will be able to use Battle.net to participate in cross-realm chat in World of Warcraft, create real-life friends lists, communicate across different games, and a whole lot more."
To compensate WOW players for the inconvenience of having to register with Battle.net, Blizzard will give existing accounts who sign up with the service an in-game penguin pet. After November 11, new WOW players will have to sign up through Battle.net to access the MMORPG. To answer user inquiries, Blizzard has posted a FAQ with more details on the process of--and reasons behind--the mandatory merger.