Blizzard’s Battle.net platform has grown rapidly in recent years, with the addition of huge multiplayer hits like Overwatch and Hearthstone. As such, the needs of Battle.net’s users have grown beyond the platform’s features built earlier to bring together World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 and StarCraft 2‘s communities. Today Blizzard rose to the occasion, releasing a substantial new social feature-set for Battle.net. Available now in beta, Battle.net is more robust than ever.
Several additions have been made in the update, but the key feature is the all-new Social tab that sits between the Games and Shop tabs. In social, Battle.net users can now form Groups similar in structure to modern social applications like Discord. Within a Group, users can create and participate in either text or voice chat rooms exclusive to said Group. Group administrators have full control over membership and access, though features like Roles are still in development.
To complement the robust addition of Groups, Blizzard is expanding other aspects of Battle.net. Users are now able to create personal profiles for themselves, including choosing an Avatar from a preset list of Blizzard-themed images. Profiles will also allow for a short description and links to social media. There’s also a feature allowing users to add a private note on a friend’s profile, just in case they forget who they are or what game you met them in.
While the previous new Battle.net features may certainly be exciting, there’s one other small addition that Battle.net users have been asking for for some time. Users can now appear offline, making their profile appear disconnected even if they’re in the middle of an Overwatch game. This feature doesn’t stretch into the social systems of every game, so World of Warcraft players will still see guildmates via in-game lists, but otherwise players are effectively invisible through Battle.net.
Since they are in beta, the new Battle.net social features could change over time. New additions may be made or current features may be removed from the service. But the direction for the Battle.net platform should be clear: Blizzard wants players on its platform and not on anyone else’s. And the timing of this release shouldn’t surprise anyone either. Destiny 2, the first non-Blizzard game coming to Battle.net, launches in less than a month.
To access the beta: open the Blizzard Battle.net application and click on the Blizzard logo. Go to settings, followed by selecting the Beta tab at the bottom of the list on the left. From here users can select to install the beta, or switch back if they prefer the standard version of Battle.net. The beta is open to everyone, and all Blizzard asks is that you report any feedback or technical issues through the company’s forums.