The lights are on
Power Member - Level 7
I have an admittance to make, which won’t be much of a
reveal for people who already know me.
I kind of hate X-Box Live...
I’m not really against it on principle, as it does still
serve a purpose of uniting console gamers through online play. However, as it
exists, I’m constantly reminded how financially-focused Microsoft is (which is true
with everyone to be fair, they’re just less tactful about it), which tends to
ruin the experience for me. It also commercially fosters the more ignorant player and gives them
the faculty to breed and propagate, but I won’t dig into that right now.
Instead, I’ll move on to the topic at hand, Battle.net, which remains the only
online-play service that I’ve actually found a genuine liking for. Steam is
definitely top-notch in many respects, but Valve’s exercising of its power sometimes
directly turns me around and politely pats me on my ass, leading me away from it. As I
just stated with XBL, it pretty much just obnoxiously pisses on all of its
potential, which has always caused me to compensate by placing blind hope in PSN somehow
stepping up (which is just happening too *** slow for me).
Battle.net’s function ties into these services without being
a direct competitor with them. Mostly this is because its implementation is
spread across a few but significantly powerful games. StarCraft, Diablo, and
WarCraft have all merged with the service to provide and effective and
simplistic means to connect to fellow players. BNet also has a slight obessionist edge
to it which the others lack. If someone is really into StarCraft for example, BNet will be one of the
most comfortable couches they ever lounge on.
I suppose that sometime next year, we’ll get StarCraft II (the longer it takes, the better in my opinion), which
is now confirmed to be supporting ‘Battle.Net 2.0’, a revamped and updated
service to help carry along the likes of StarCraft II and Diablo III. My first
impressions upon hearing the details for 2.0 were those of excitement, as it
seems Blizzard is tactfully beginning to infringe on the markets that both XBL
and Steam are so wrapped up in dominating right now. Some of the changes however, do have
me wondering about the ripple effect they’re bound to have.
The most obvious questions I have revolve around what
Blizzard will have to compromise in order to generate its own finances. I’m not
naïve enough to assume that all will be taken care of through micro-transactions
(though that coupled with advertising could work I guess). The fact that it’s a free
service is something gamers tend to take for granted (yet ironically something like XBL features so many complaints about it needing to be a free service without any thought to what that entails); so worrying about how Blizzard will keep the
service up to snuff is a valid concern. It should also be noted that some of
the cooler features involve players being able to sell and market custom maps
for each other. It’s already been established that Blizzard can handle MMO-like expenses, so if something such as StarCraft II’s customization options
manage to take off, this could be exactly what we’re looking at it terms of
user-generated content. It's not necessarily esoteric enough to enter mod-territory,
but it definitely possesses enough gravity to manage like a rudimentary economic
Interacting With People? Ew...
This one is a tad odd to me because I somehow possess an
irrational fear of how the chat options have been streamlined for accessibility.
The hindrance between communicating with fellow gamers on 1.0 was mainly caused by having to type key-commands in order to reach each other; even bringing up one’s own buddy list was managed
this way. It's been stated that 2.0 will feature some sort of instant messaging
simulation to help players keep up with one another. I may need to just see the
execution of it to invest trust in it; I’m most likely afraid that the barrier built
into 1.0 was contingent on my enjoyment of the overall service, we'll have to wait and see if that's true.
The Ego Game
This correlates two the previous two and can be seen in all
sorts of lights when examined. On one hand, it’s this feature that will make 2.0 last, as
giving the player an ‘ego-presence’ online will raise the chances of them
staying with the service. 2.0 is supposedly filled with everything from custom
decals for units to entire leagues being supported. It’s also something BNet
can capitalize on since the aforementioned services don’t do much to actively
support such a feature. Steam is pretty much just a content-delivery service and XBL & PSN
are both full of blatant micro-transactions built on the premise that the user
is ‘cosmetically weak’, something we all possess to some degree so it just
comes off as them taking advantage of us in the end. BNet using something such as
decals and leagues however, will actually have function in-game, giving players
effective ‘war-paint’ and more reason to support the service.
In the end, Battle.Net is full of potential that spoke mainly to P.C. players when it was initially unveiled. Now there’s room to advance
its progress since more people are now in possession of P.Cs with decent online
connections (not to mention Blizzard has a penchant for developing content to run on everything). We're also moving into an age where pure-bred console gamers are becoming more and more of
an endangered species (thank God for that by the way). StarCraft was a kind of
a game that could suck a year away from your life if you weren’t paying
attention (and most of us are still playing it a decade later), so 2010 is
going to be an extremely interesting year if Blizzard manages to pull off BNet
2.0 to even a third of its potential.