The logo
Developer(s) Blizzard Entertainment
Type Multiplayer online service
License Proprietary
Website is a gaming service provided by Blizzard Entertainment. was launched in November 30, 1996 with the release of Blizzard's action-RPG Diablo. was the first online gaming service incorporated directly into the games that make use of it, in contrast to the external interfaces used by the other online services at the time. This feature, along with ease of account creations and the absence of member fees, caused to become popular among gamers and became a major selling point for Diablo and subsequent Blizzard games. Since the successful launch of, many companies have published online game services mimicking Blizzard's service package and the user interface.

Blizzard officially unveiled the new revamped on March 20, 2009.[1] It later revealed further details of the revamped features at Blizzcon 2009 which will be supported by StarCraft II, Diablo III and World of Warcraft. The original would also be renamed to classic.[2]


Supported games


When the service initially launched with Diablo in November 30, 1996, offered only a few basic services like chatting and game listings. Players could connect to the service, talk with other gamers and join multiplayer games of Diablo. Besides user account data, no game data was stored on the servers. When a player connected to a game, they would be connecting directly to the other players in the game. No data was sent through the servers. While this made the service quick and easy to use, it quickly led to widespread cheating since players using cheats could modify their game data locally. However, since there was an option to create private games, many players ended up playing with people they knew.


The interface in StarCraft

The release of StarCraft in 1998 increased usage of the service significantly. Features such as ladder ranking and game filters were added to the service. grew even larger after the release of the expansion pack StarCraft: Brood War, with tens of thousands of players logged on at any given time (even in the present day). StarCraft was especially successful in South Korea, where the number of players logged on was often many times that of the United States.

StarCraft also brought with it a new copy protection scheme using CD keys. Under Diablo, would allow any client to connect to the service. With StarCraft, only those players with a valid and unique CD key – a generated 13-digit number distributed with each boxed game – were allowed onto the service. Only one person could connect to using a specific CD key at a time. CD-Keys could also be muted (unable to whisper or chat in channels), voided (restricted to The Void channel), jailed (both unable to whisper or chat in channels and restricted to The Void) or banned from entirely. Every Blizzard game since StarCraft has used the CD key system to connect to Starcraft: Brood War,was only able to be installed if the original was already installed and you would automatically be using your original starcraft CD key. With the release of the Gateway system in Brood War, two players can play at the same time, as long as they are on different gateways, though they cannot play in the same game, chat with each other and so on.

Warcraft II: Edition

Diablo II

Diablo II was released in 2000 to much fanfare. The main highlight of Diablo II as it relates to was that the game used the client–server model. The game was no longer simulated on each player's computer, but instead was run on Blizzard's server. This also meant that all of the character data for the game was stored on the servers. The game also has an open character feature on which stored the player's character on the client. This allowed players to play characters locally or on a LAN, and then use those same characters on However, any open games played on were not protected from cheating by other players since they could have modified their characters locally. Diablo II also had a unique feature that would show the players in the chat room as avatars who looked like their characters did in the game. It also used a different interface than previous games, where previously there were mainly only color differences. There was also expanded ladder support including a "Hardcore" ladder which listed players whose characters would be removed permanently if they died in-game. Again, with Diablo II usage of increased steadily, climbing even higher with the release of the expansion pack Diablo II: Lord of Destruction in 2001.

Warcraft III

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos was released in 2002 and its expansion pack, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, was released in 2003. The release of these two games brought with them a number of new features to the online service. The most significant feature to be added was probably the concept of Anonymous Matchmaking. This feature allowed a user who wanted to play a game to simply press a button and automatically be matched up with one or more other players who were similar in skill (based on ranking) and also wanted to play a game. This allowed for people to get into games quickly and easily. It also reduced win-trading, where two people would purposely win and lose games to artificially raise their rank on the ladder. The matchmaking concept was also expanded to team games in a feature called "Arranged Teams". In an arranged team game, you could make a team with one or more friends, which was then anonymously matched up with another team of the same size and rank. However, a strategy was introduced on how to cheat the automated 'fair' matchups, called 'Abusing', simply by someone losing the Arranged Team Games intentionally with one ally so that with another ally (who wants to gain wins easily) won't find it difficult because the automatic matchups would put the two players up against relatively unskilled players. Automated tournaments were added in the expansion, where players would compete to be crowned tournament champion in a series of games played throughout the day. In addition to the new game styles, a slew of other features were added including selectable chatroom icons unlocked based on the player's number of wins, a friends list, and clan support.

Starcraft II

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is the first game to natively support the new revamped online interface. allows players to engage in online play on both work and home computers without the need to transfer files by signing onto one unified account. The new also allows for several online competitions to be held simultaneously which Blizzard will use to host competition leagues, each with their own level of play. The new features a marketplace for Starcraft II which allows players to download both free and paid maps, which can be searched for online and rated by players. The new interface also includes a chat service which is similar to that of Instant Messengers which allows players to interact across different games as well as showcase their own achievements. The game also supports VoIP for players.[3][4]

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft initially did not support, having separate accounts from ones until the revamp of on March 20, 2009 which forced players to merge their World of Warcraft accounts with the new accounts.[5] The features of utilized in World of Warcraft include allowing players to engage in cross-realm, cross-faction and cross-game chat, which allows players to talk with their friends on their Real ID friends list, from other factions, other servers as well as other games such as StarCraft II and soon Diablo III.[6] On November 11, 2009 Blizzard Entertainment made a mandatory feature for World of Warcraft players.[7]

Diablo III

Blizzard confirmed on June 28, 2008 at the Worldwide Invitational in Paris, France that Diablo III would feature support.

Revamped was revamped by Blizzard in 2009 and was officially unveiled on March 20, 2009, it was further elaborated on during Blizzcon 2009. The new (unofficially known as 2.0) contains three unique sections. The first allows players to connect all accounts, World of Warcraft characters and friends list together and integrate them into a unified single account. Players can also unlock achievements in-game which would in turn unlock avatars and decals which would be shown on the player's profile, the decals can also be seen in-game on the player's units.[8]

Chat System interface on the revamped

The second section consists of making into a competitive arena for players which involves a new improved matchmaking system which simplifies the process of players locating their friends and organizing games. The ladder system has also been revamped so that it will not be dominated just by the most hardcore players instead after a short period of play, the system would classify players into certain leagues according to their level of competitiveness. Within each league, players would compete against other players who have a similar skill level to that of the player. There is also a special practice league for the casual players to practice and hone their skills, this league slows down the gameplay using "anti-rush" maps to allow players to get used to the game. The party system works similar to that of World of Warcraft where players with friends would join together and enter games as a party.[8]

The final section makes it easy to locate and stay connected with friends. This involves the new chat system which involves a new system similar to Instant Messaging across games. Players would also be able to stay together in groups which allow them to remain together when new games are released. This is done by allowing players to communicate with friends across games, servers, and characters.[8]

Another new element is the use of an online marketplace which allows player or map makers to create and sell their maps online through, players can also browse and search through maps online and rank them by player ratings as well as download both free and paid maps.[8]

On May 5, 2010, Blizzard revealed that 2.0 would be integrated with social networking site Facebook, "linking the world's premier online gaming platform with the world's most popular social platform".[9]

Growth history

According to Blizzard's claims, is the largest online gaming network in the neighborhood. Blizzard claims "millions of active users" on, and that they are the leaders of online gaming, noting in 2006 that "even Xbox Live is not even close".[10] By November 1997 they had 2.2 million games played, had 1.25 million different users, and averaged 3,500 new users each day.[11] By April 1999, it was reported that had 2.3 million active users, and more than 50,000 concurrent users.[12] By September 2002, their active user count had jumped to 11 million.[13] By September 2004, their active user count was up to nearly 12 million, spending more than 2.1 million hours online each day, and they had an average of 200,000 concurrent users, with a peak concurrent user count of 400,000.[14] In November 2008, Blizzard banned over 357,700 accounts that were found to be using third-party hacks.[15]


A community of developers has arisen around Many unofficial clients are available for, and most of the protocol used by games has been reverse-engineered and published by volunteers.

Also, several communication tools have been made, like a "whisper" tool, so that a player could talk to their friends even if they are in a game.

Custom games (using maps that were not made by Blizzard) have helped build the community, and now are a substantial portion of the games played. Among the most popular of these games in WarCraft 3 are tower defense maps and Hero solo maps (like DotA, and arena maps) or pure RTS games like Civilization Wars, where the player develops their economy, tech, and unit diversity but the player has no control of their units.



A group of gamers reverse engineered the network protocol used by and Blizzard games, and released a free (under the GNU GPL) emulation package called bnetd. With bnetd, a gamer is not required to use the official servers to play Blizzard games.

In February 2002, lawyers retained by Blizzard threatened legal action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against the developers of bnetd. Blizzard games are designed to operate online exclusively with a set of Blizzard-controlled servers collectively known as "". servers include a CD key check as a means of preventing software piracy.

Despite offers from the bnetd developers to integrate Blizzard's CD key checking system into bnetd, Blizzard claims that the public availability of any such software package facilitates piracy, and moved to have the bnetd project shut down under provisions of the DMCA.[16] As this case is one of the first major test cases for the DMCA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation became involved. For a while negotiations were ongoing to resolve the case without a trial. The negotiations failed however, and Blizzard won the case on all counts: the defendants were ruled to have breached both StarCraft's End User License Agreement (EULA) and the Terms of Use of[17] This decision was appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which also ruled in favor of Blizzard/Vivendi on September 1, 2005.[18]

Privacy and Real ID

On July 6, 2010 Blizzard announced that they planned to change the way their forums worked to require that users identify themselves with their real name.[19][20] The reaction from the community was overwhelmingly negative with multiple game magazines calling the change "foolhardy"[21] and an "Epic Fail".[22] It also resulted in the largest user response ever on the Blizzard forums.[23][24][25][26][27] This included personal details of a Blizzard employee who gave his real name "to show it wasn't a big deal".[28] Shortly after revealing his real name, personal information was posted that included his phone number, picture, age, home address, and other details.[23]

Some technology media outlets suggested the change was a good idea and would benefit both and the Blizzard community.[29] Others worried that Blizzard would open their fans up to real-life dangers[30] such as stalking, sexual predators, and employment issues, since a simple Google search by a user's employer would reveal their online activities.[23][31][32][33] There was also concern that this would lead to real-life harassment and safety concerns, especially for women and trans-gender gamers who are already harassed quite often in-game.[34][35][36][37][38][39]

Blizzard initially responded to some of the concerns by saying that the changes would not be retroactive to previous posts, that parents could set up the system so that minors cannot post, and that posting to the forums is optional.[25] However due to the huge negative response, Blizzard President Michael Morhaime issued a statement rescinding the plan to use real names on Blizzard's forums for the time being.[40][41]

List of games

An early model of the revamped interface in World of Warcraft Classic

Restricted Chat Functionality

  • Diablo Shareware
  • Diablo Spawn
  • Diablo
  • StarCraft Shareware
  • StarCraft Spawn
  • Japanese StarCraft (public beta of a Japanese version of StarCraft)
  • Japanese StarCraft Spawn


  • CHAT (Telnet)
  • Diablo II Stress Test (internal alpha of Diablo II)
  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Beta 2.0

See also


  1. ^ "Blizzard Unveils New". 20 March 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  2. ^ "Upcoming Blizzard Battle.Net Feature Draw From Warcraft, Xbox Live, Life". 21 August 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "StarCraft II General Discussion". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  4. ^ "BlizzCon 2009: 2.0 features revealed [Update]". 21 August 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  5. ^ Merge World of Warcraft accounts with accounts
  6. ^ Sacco, Michael (27 August 2009). " 2.0 to allow cross-faction communication". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  7. ^ "Wow -> Archived News -> November, 2009". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Upcoming Blizzard Battle.Net Feature Draw From Warcraft, Xbox Live, Life – Blizzcon 09". 21 August 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  9. ^ " set to integrate with Facebook". GamePron. 5 May 2010. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
  10. ^ "GC: WOW Factor //". 25 August 2006. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  11. ^ "Features – " Defines Its Success: An Interview with Paul Sams of Blizzard" [11.28.97]". Gamasutra. 28 November 1997. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  12. ^ Conason, Joe (21 April 1999). "Salon Technology | Online gaming's store-shelf chains". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ "Court's Memorandum and Order | Electronic Frontier Foundation". 30 September 2004. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  15. ^ "Welcome to". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  16. ^ Open Source game server shut down by DMCA, February 21, 2002
  17. ^ Court document: Davison & Associates vs Internet Gateway & Associates, September 30, 2004
  18. ^ Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. Freezes On-Line Gamers with an Eight Circuit Court Victory, September 19, 2005.
  19. ^ " – English Forums -> Update: Upcoming Changes to Forums". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  20. ^ Holisky, Adam. "Official forum changes, real life names to be displayed". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  21. ^ "News: Fans rage over Blizzard forum plans". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  22. ^ "Why Blizzard’s new forum plan is an epic fail". PC Gamer. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  23. ^ a b c "World of Warcraft maker to end anonymous forum logins". BBC News. 7 July 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  24. ^ Kuchera, Ben. "Blizzard: post about StarCraft 2? Use your real name". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  25. ^ a b Holisky, Adam. "Blizzard's responses on the Real ID situation". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  26. ^ "Blizzard's Real ID Removes Anonymity From Their Forums". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  27. ^ Oli Welsh. "Blizzard forums to require real names MMO News – Page 1". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  28. ^ Northrup, Laura. "You Want Your Real Name Publicly Associated With Your World Of Warcraft Account, Right?". The Consumerist. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  29. ^ "News: Blizzard's Real ID Puts Names to Trolling, Underage Lesbianism". 21 June 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010. [dead link]
  30. ^ "Counter-Strike Gamer Hunts Down, Stabs Man". 28 May 2010.,10543.html. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  31. ^ "Is Blizzard's Real ID Safe, Or A Playground For Sexual Deviants? – Voodoo Extreme". Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  32. ^ "Geeking Out About… » 21st Century Digital REDACTED". 28 June 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  33. ^ "Blizzard forces users to show real names – Internet security they have heard of it". TechEye. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  34. ^ "The Real ID Debacle: What We’ve Learned". 
  35. ^ "True names: identity, safety and Blizzard’s Real ID". 
  36. ^ "Aftershock: Blizzard's Real ID policy gaffe rattles on". 
  37. ^ "Blizzard forces users to show real names". 
  38. ^ "Was Blizzard’s real name decision nothing more than a PR stunt?". 
  39. ^ "Homophobia and Harassment in the Online Gaming Age". 
  40. ^ World of Warcraft – English (NA) Forums -> Regarding real names in forums
  41. ^ "Blizzard backs down over gamers using real names". BBC News. 9 July 2010. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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