Game services like Xbox Live, Steam, PlayStation Network and Battle.net are already rather impressive frameworks for online gaming communities, but there's still much more that can be accomplished in the space, Blizzard Entertainment's Greg Canessa told Gamasutra in a newly-published feature interview
"I feel like honestly we've tapped five to 10 percent of what's ultimately possible out there, and in 15, 20 years we'll look back at this time, [and realize] we've just scratched the surface of what's possible with the game service, by way of social features, community features, meta-game features and competitive features," said Canessa, project director on Battle.net. "The sky's the limit, and there's very little out there right now."
Prior to Blizzard and some time at PopCap Games, Canessa helped lead development of Microsoft's Xbox Live, a notably different service from the newest version of Battle.net, in that Xbox Live is more of a layer of social features on top of games as opposed to a wholly-integrated framework like Battle.net.
Blizzard relaunched Battle.net in July this year with the release of the company's real-time strategy game StarCraft II
. The original Battle.net launched in 1996, and as of about a year-and-a-half ago, claimed 12 million users, Canessa said. Blizzard's World of Warcraft
also uses the service, and the upcoming Diablo III
will also integrate with Battle.net.
"The point is the game service, if done right, can enhance the gameplay experience in ways that are totally critical to the game's success itself," Canessa said.
One of the next big steps for Battle.net's evolution is the addition of the StarCraft II
Marketplace, where players will be able to upload maps and mods of the game, with the option to sell their work on the store and share revenue with Blizzard.
"We're getting into spectating, tournaments, the marketplace and other stuff going forward," said Canessa. "We've just got so much potential here, I only wish we could stop time and get some of this stuff sooner. It takes a long time to build this stuff."
For more from Canessa on Battle.net's creation, challenges and future, read the full Gamasutra feature
, available now.