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Kotick, Morhaime Detail Xbox Live-Like Battle.net Plans, Explain  StarCraft II  Delay
Kotick, Morhaime Detail Xbox Live-Like Battle.net Plans, Explain StarCraft II Delay
August 5, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

August 5, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
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Activision is moving Blizzard's StarCraft II into the first half of 2010 to coincide with the launch of the Battle.net service, and on the company's second quarter call to investors today, Gamasutra was there to hear CEO Bobby Kotick and Blizzard head Mike Morhaime explain, laying out expansive plans for the online service.

The company's vision for Battle.net is a "true online destination platform," and Kotick expects it to "become the foundation for connecting tens of millions [of players] in the Blizzard community in a social gaming network across all Blizzard's future games."

"This will begin with World of Warcraft and StarCraft II," Kotick added, calling the planned service, built by the Blizzard team, "similar to Xbox Live." It's primarily Battle.net, not StarCraft II -- subtitled "Wings of Liberty" that needs this additional prep time, according to Activision.

Also on the call, Morhaime explained that in addition to tournaments, rankings and multiplayer matching, the new Battle.net will "add social networking features, cross-game communications, unified log-in and account management and more."

"Eventually, it will allow [players] to connect, communicate and share experiences with each other through the service regardless of which blizzard games they are playing," Morhaime added.

Given that Battle.net will be "integrated with StarCraft II more tightly than any previous Blizzard game," it's essential to spend enough time preparing it, said Morhaime. "We recognize that we only get one chance to make a first impression."

"There is no better opportunity to launch this strategic initiative than through the launch of StarCraft II," said Kotick on the call. "The Battle.net platform is an investment in the future of gaming, and an opportunity that we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on."

Morhaime also said that following StarCraft II's launch, the Blizzard team will move "immediately" onto the first of two expansions, and "continue developing and implementing advanced Battle.net features."

Kotick also alluded to the publisher's struggles to get WoW back up and running in China, where the game has suffered downtime in the transition to operator Netease. He expressed confidence in the company, calling the partnership "a long-term investment with a very capable and committed partner."

"Netease has already made significant investments in upgrading the technology infrastructure of the World of Warcraft service," he said. "In fact, from a quality of hardware and network perspective, China is our most advanced geography."

Both the Netease transition and StarCraft II's delay are short-term compromises for long-term gains, Kotick asserted, lauding the company's "enviable" flexibility to strategize in such a way.

In what may have been a dig at rival Electronic Arts, for which it competes on various metrics for the title of number one publisher, Kotick noted that Activision is "not preoccupied with dramatic restructuring, burdensome investments to develop online game capabilities... [or] entering new geographies like China and Korea."


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Comments


Joseph Cook
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kotick wanna summa dat steam

Sean Gibbons
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I agree. It's obvious that Blizzard is being ambiguous about the features because they want to surprise people. The conference call makes it sounds like they are going to be competing with Steam at some level. Maybe Battlenet will have a monthly fee and they'll update SC2 with content patches like the WoW model :). I'm not entirely opposed to that idea

Maurício Gomes
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I am.



I like to play Warcraft III with my friends on the university lan (that blocks outside access btw).

Also I don't play MMOs exactly because subscriptions are something that I don't agree much in paying, I want the game for me, I want it mine, I don't want to rent it.

Christopher Wragg
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heh, just buy wow, and it's expansions, dl the patches, then set up your own private server at uni and play on that with your mates...taa-daa, WoW without the subscription fee or the random prats who end up annoying you a heap. you just have to deal with the bugs on your own, and there won't be much in the way of an economy or pvp action...unless you have enough mates.



@Sean

Ultimately I dislike the concept of an RTS that may, quite possibly, be a pay to play model if your trying to play with other human beings.....that sounds like the fastest way to kill one of the BEST aspects of RTS games of the past. I imagine if what your suggesting is the case, I would buy the game, and then never play it with anyone else.



Of course even if it's a free service, having to connect via battle net to play against other people sucks quite badly as well....bye bye LAN events. I'm sadly seeing a trend in blizzard, sliding from well polished well thought out games, that are fun and accessible, too, well polished, poorly thought out money grubbing games, that are fun, but hardly accessible enough to make it worth your while. I'm really hoping that Battle net actually turns out to be a neat little free service that enhances online play, but yet still has a way to enable lan play, and that everything we've heard so far is just giving us the wrong impressions.....I'm really hoping.

Ben Versaw
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"Of course even if it's a free service, having to connect via battle net to play against other people sucks quite badly as well....bye bye LAN events."



Correction: Bye bye, unofficial lan events where maybe only one or two (if that) players present actually brought the game out of 10-15 or more people. I say more power to them - piracy of any type should not be tolerated as much as it is currently.



I'm sure Blizzard will have a perfectly compatible method of allowing players with legit copies of the game to LAN together, though.

JeanMi Vatfair
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Battle.net will be similar to XBOX Live because it will include monthly fees. And that's also why they don't want LAN on Starcraft II. They don't want you to play SC2 without subscribing to their new XBOX Live.

Adam Flutie
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All I know is 8 or so of us were planning on picking up the game for play at our office. We are allowed LAN games at lunch and after hours. All ports other than the few required for work are blocked, so LAN is pretty much the only way we can play. When then announced this all of us crossed it off our lists and moved on. I'm sure one or two of us might pick it up for the story mode (which is being strung across two more full games after the fact) and I don't really have high hopes for the story mode anyhow...



I'm probably wrong in saying it, but I can't wait for someone to hack it up and put in LAN play. When that happens we will probably go buy our copies (our work validates a unique copy for each install) and then finally play some LAN.

jean-francois Dugas
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WoW have millions of suscribers who pay for their games each month. There would be even more people if it was free. Would Battle.net begin to charge each accounters five buck a month, that means each player of Wow would have to pay five more buck, for nothing more than a chat room. That would be nonsense. Better, each people who would buy SC2 would have to pay for a system that doesn't need payments. You pay for MMO for the servers. You pay XboxLive because they say : we have huge update for you console that let you do more. Playstation is free. Why would a game that require a maximum of 8 players, with a simple chat room should ask for money, when Gamespy, Steam and the original battle.net didn't. I think we jump to conclusion far too soon.



As for the Lan, if I do remember correcly, you didn't had to connect to Battle.Net to do so, there was an other Internet option in the Multiplayer option.



Only time will tell, but I do thrust Blizzard they wouldn't ruin a RTS like that.



Last comment, Killing Lan to kill piracy would be like stopping making games to eradicate piracy. There will always be pirates.

Adam Bishop
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@Ben



It's not piracy when the game allows you to spawn copies for LAN play, as the original Starcraft did. It was an officially endorsed way of playing the game. Also, I've gone to LAN parties to play games like Starcraft or Civilization where everyone playing had a legitimate, purchased copy of the game in question. I doubt we would have bothered though, if we'd had to jump through hoops to play through an official channel. If I'm paying for a game, then I want to be able to play it in the way which is most convenient to me, not the publisher, and if a publisher is going to make it more difficult for me to play a game *that I have given them money for* then I'm unlikely to continue supporting that developer.

Adam Flutie
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@Adam Bishop - "I'm unlikely to continue supporting that developer. "



Exactly. Blizzard currently rides the high horse, but lets face it this is just another slap at them. No LAN was the end of it for me. It started with the fact their games ended unfinished, where the expansion pack finishes the story. Then came the requirement to pay every month to play it. and now constant connection through their own Bnet to play... meh, I think I'll just give my money to stardock instead and forget blizzard games.

steve roger
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"JeanMi Vatfair 6 Aug 2009 at 4:53 am PST

Battle.net will be similar to XBOX Live because it will include monthly fees. And that's also why they don't want LAN on Starcraft II. They don't want you to play SC2 without subscribing to their new XBOX Live."



That was the first thing I thought too. Do we have any confirmation about this type of coercion with SC2?

Ben Versaw
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"It's not piracy when the game allows you to spawn copies for LAN play, as the original Starcraft did."



Yea - I realize that. In fact, my current game has a plan in motion to allow players who own the game to play over the internet with 3 friends who do not. But, at almost every instance of Starcraft LANs I've seen no one owned a copy - or if there was an owner it was some ridiculous ratio like 1 owner : 19 moochers.



Also this whole "Battle.net" won't be free thing - I'm a bit confused where anyone gets that from. Battle.net has been free since its creation and has been running for -far far- longer than any other online service I personally know of.



World of Warcraft charges of subscription fee because there is a massive of amount of content continuously rolling out for it. I mean, check out the updates "Classic", "Burning Crusade", and even the stuff "Wrath" has got alreadly. Not to mention, its a completely different type of game not using Battle.net .



"Last comment, Killing Lan to kill piracy would be like stopping making games to eradicate piracy. There will always be pirates. "



I'm fully confident Blizzard will find a non-hassle way to provide a LAN-like feature, not requiring internet access and limiting the problem of having 1 "authentic copy" at a party of 20+ people, while still allowing friends to play with each other.



I just wanted to chime in to remind people, to chill out. Seriously, as game developers you should know better - and if your not a game developer what are you doing here.

Kevin Reese
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"I'm fully confident Blizzard will find a non-hassle way to provide a LAN-like feature, not requiring internet access and limiting the problem of having 1 "authentic copy" at a party of 20+ people, while still allowing friends to play with each other." I don't see any evidence backing up this claim. Why would they willfully announce no LAN plans, and suffer the big fan backlash, if they actually intend to have LAN play in their future games?



Also regarding battle.net not being free -- my guess is that it will become heavily subsidized by ads. Certainly they will find some way to make money off of it. I say this just because of how much potential dollar signs Activision will see, as any big company would that makes over a billion dollars a year in profits.



There will not be monthly sub frees for playing SC2 or Diablo 3 at first , but there will be some sort of micro-transactions employed in the service, and eventually these will expand to the point where you have to pay some sort of fee just to get reasonable, basic service from the system. That's just the way it'll work in my opinion.

steve roger
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@Ben, chill out yourself, dude. Looking at the posts here no one deserves to be chided. You might be "fully confident" that a LAN like feature will be provided, but a lot of people don't share your optimism, and with good reason.



http://www.incgamers.com/Interviews/190/StarCraftIIDevelopersInte
rviewed:

"Will StarCraft II be available on consoles, or over LAN?

We got quite different answers about local area networking (LAN), where both Dustin or Sigaty said they were still discussing it, however, Pardo knew immediately: "we don't have any plans to support LAN," he said and clarified "we will not support it." The only multiplayer available will be on Battle.net."



http://www.incgamers.com/News/17129/NoLANInStarCraftIIConfirmed

"StarCraft II will not have a local area networking (LAN) game mode.

Rob Pardo, senior VP of game design at Blizzard Entertainment confirmed in an interview with IncGamers that the StarCraft II development team "don't have any plans to support LAN," and clarified saying "we will not support it." The only multiplayer available will be on Battle.net.

IncGamers also got a clarification from Blizzard, shortly after the interview, saying the choice of excluding a LAN feature "is because of the planned technology to be incorporated into Battle.net," a topic they will reveal more about at a later date.

The original StarCraft gained popularity largely because of the easy LAN mode, used on massive LANs like Dreamhack or small personal networks between friends, so this is a surprising move by Blizzard."



And Kevin, you are right:



http://www.incgamers.com/Interviews/190/StarCraftIIDevelopersInte
rviewed:

So what's Battle.net all about and how is it different?

"The new Battle.net will completely revolutionise the current version, but Blizzard is still looking to making this experience free for anyone buying StarCraft II or future games that use Battle.net. One idea which has been discussed in different iterations is microtransactions, meaning the service is free, but added value services like starting a custom tournament, league, or the like would cost a small amount of money."

Joshua King
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The Steam model is win. The closer to that Battle.net is the better. If I buy StarCraft II/Diablo 3 then I expect free net play like CounterStrizzle etc. If it isn't like that then you can on me not bothering you in those virtual worlds.

Joshua King
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*Count damn it count! :)


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