In some industries, the customer is always right, but is Blizzard prepared to listen to the community outcry over the many problems of Battle.net 2.0?
It's been a week since Starcraft 2 (SC2) shut the doors on the first phase of its closed beta and, since Blizzard has set the official launch date of SC2 a mere one and a half months from now, there have been more than a few concerns raised in relation to the alarming status of Blizzard's Battle.net 2.0. First it was the ongoing complaint over the lack of any LAN features for Starcraft 2 (although Blizzard has been fairly firm on this stance from the very beginning), but with every new Battle.net version, more and more players have been voicing their opinions on a wide variety of other community-related problems: the lack of in-game chat rooms, the omission of cross region play, and even simple things like the lack of in-game chat commands (although it's assumed that this will be fixed by the time Battle.net 2.0 is ready for launch).
Now, you may be thinking that only a small number of players have been finding problems with Starcraft 2's Battle.net 2.0, but the fact is, some of the biggest Starcraft 2 fan sites have been ablaze with Battle.net 2.0 criticism, including TeamLiquid, a fansite for competitive Starcraft 2 gamers, The Starcraft 2 Armory, and even one of the most popular SC2 commentators on Youtube, HuskyStarcraft, has weighed in on the problem of Battle.net 2.0. As well, polls currently being taken on these sites have a whopping 94% (9317 votes) of players voting "No" when asked if they liked the direction that Battle.net 2.0 was taking.
But what's a company to do? With the official launch of Starcraft 2 set to hit stores by the end of July, there's really no time left for complaints, so we've decided to address two of the biggest community-related problems that are currently facing Blizzard and their poor Battle.net 2.0.
Players shouldn't have to purchase, and register, two separate Starcraft II games just to play with friends in a different region.
Speaking from a competitive standpoint, one of the biggest problems is that players are currently being forced into region-specific groups, and they won't have any access to players or games being played in other regions. So if you should ever want to play against some friends in, say, Europe, you would need to purchase a European version of Starcraft II, in addition to registering a European Battle.net account, in order to play with some of your friends.
Of course, this makes it quite awkward for online tournaments to pit players against each other on a global basis, and many competitive players have simply borrowed their friends' accounts in order to participate in these tournaments. Frank Pearce, the Executive Producer of Blizzard Entertainment, stated that high latency connections to the SC2 servers does impact the game play, so they've basically separated their regions based almost entirely on connection times. In this way, players located in New Zealand and Australia will be finding themselves playing with their south-east Asian neighbors rather than on the European or American servers, simply due to their higher latency connections with those servers.
Unfortunately, while it is understandable that Blizzard wants to keep connection speeds fast, it's quite mind boggling as to why they would make it so difficult for players to connect across different regions. There have already been a number of closed beta tournaments hosted, with players competing from across the globe (Denmark, Korea, Taiwan, USA, Canada), and, while connection speeds weren't fantastic, the players understood and accepted that there would be some lag. In exchange, they got to play against some new competition; they got to connect with the global Starcraft 2 community and they enjoyed the games all the same. As well, while Blizzard seems adamant about making sure all of their games are fast and smooth, there have been a number of players who have registered American Battle.net accounts in order to play SC2 against North American players, so regular players could be suffering just because Blizzard wants you to buy multiple copies of Starcraft 2.
If Blizzard truly wants to create a community-oriented Battle.net 2.0, players shouldn't be forced to register new Battle.net accounts just to connect with other players around the world. If it comes down to it, Blizzard should make cross-region play a premium feature for $5-$10, where players can pay to be able to connect with players across the world-where they can then gain the ability to communicate and play against players from across the world if they so choose. Not only would this allow players who only want to play in their region to do so (with no laggy surprise players), but it still gives the opportunity for global communities to grow.