Sunday, March 16, 2014

Why Are Battletags Disabled On Some Of Blizzard's Starter Editions?

While I don't write articles on Hearthstone or, for that matter, have any plans to in the near future, Hearthstone has finished its open beta and is now "released" (despite being available to play for everyone for the better part of 3 months). I could gripe about all the issues introduced with the release patch, nerfs to various cards, gameplay changes, and so on, but instead I would like to highlight a more general issue that's bother me for a rather long time.

In the distant past I once posted some suggestions to improve World of Warcraft's Starter Edition (which I will likely be writing once more in the near future). One of the suggestions was to allow usage of the Real ID/Battletag system (which I will now refer to as the Battletag system) if the account the Starter Edition was attached to could normally access the system due to having a full WoW account (with an active subscription), Starcraft 2, or Diablo 3. The implication of this suggestion (and the restrictions in place at the time) is that the Battletag system is a privilege for paying customers of Blizzard products. However, a few additions in the recent years threw this logic completely out of the window.

Based on the statements about Hearthstone above, the free-to-play card game from Blizzard makes extensive usage of the Battletag system. In fact, it is mandatory to create one to play the game at all. Given the fact the game is free to play and all Starter Editions are also effectively free-to-play, the consistency of Battletag usage should be the same across all of Blizzard's games at this point. Furthermore, Diablo 3's Starter Edition also requires Battletag creation and usage, which was a feature added close to two years ago (which caused a lot of inevitable soliciting over the Battletag system that has since died down since it was easy to ignore anyways). Finally, Heroes of the Storm, another free-to-play game from Blizzard, is likely to end up using the Battletag system as well.

To conclude, it would be great to see Battletags enabled across all games regardless of whether the player is using a Starter Edition or not (in this case, it would apply to the WoW and SC2 Starter Editions). It allows players to retain lines of communication with their friends without any unnecessarily hampering restrictions. In the case of WoW, where it's possible to directly add Battletags by right clicking character portraits, that feature can simply be restricted on Starter Edition accounts to prevent easy soliciting.

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