Blizzard has posted a blog on the official Blizzard site talking more about the new Battle.net global friends list feature.
The post from Blizzard is a welcome to a new era of Battle.net and speaks about how with advanced internet connectivity over the past decade, they can now evolve the service for global and cross-platform experiences. The global friends list is their first step towards their new goal for the service and it looks like we can expect much more in the future.
Overwatch is going to be the first game to get updated features with cross-play being integrated allowing you to play with anyone, outside of China, on any platform that has Overwatch - PC, Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch. Although competitive games will not be cross-platform and instead of pools of PC players and console players, the rest of the game is open to party up. Because of this, Battle.net accounts will now be required for console players if they wish to play with friends on other platforms.
Although no plans have been announced yet for Hearthstone, we're hoping Blizzard at least uses this opportunity to merge our cross-region collections into one that can be used on any of the regional Hearthstone servers. This might not be the final form of a global Hearthstone though, we could see ranked ladders remaining regional for the purposes of esports, but the rest of the game arguably should be opened up so you can queue with your buddies on the other side of the pond into Battlegrounds or hit each other up for a friendly match. Again, Blizzard has not yet confirmed anything coming to Hearthstone, but we can certainly dream.
Blizzard goes on to say in their blog that they look forward to a future where we can play together regardless over where we are or what device we play on. This is certainly promising and, hell, its about time!
We’re breaking down barriers.
We’ve always envisioned Battle.net as a place for players to connect, collaborate, and play their favorite games. Now, we’re realizing that dream on a truly global level.
“When Battle.net first came out, the purpose was to deliver a connected, multiplayer experience for a single title,” says Arron Goolsbey, VP of Platform Engineering for Battle.net. “Fast-forward 10 to 15 years, and Battle.net had evolved into a service that spanned all Blizzard games but was still constructed with the primary notion that players would mostly play with others within their region. The internet has come a long way in the last 10 years, enabling global and cross-platform experiences with high levels of quality. So now, Battle.net is evolving once again.”
Starting today, friends lists from different territories will be merged into one*, so you’ll no longer need to switch regions in Battle.net to talk to your buddies on the other side of the planet. “As Global Battle.net rolls out, players around the world will be able to come together all across the larger Blizzard ecosystem without any hurdles for the first time ever,” says Diana Hubbard, Platform Design Manager. In doing so, they will be able to effortlessly expand their friendships, groups, and communities—paving the way for forging new bonds over our present and future epic gaming experiences. This is just the first step, and it will only get better from here.” To accent this new era of global gaming and social connectivity on Battle.net, we’ve also updated our logo.
“We realized some time ago that our players would be better served by a global Battle.net that did away with the concept of regions,” says Jeff Allison, Lead Product Manager for Battle.net. “But breaking down these barriers was a significant engineering task. Now that we’ve done it, we look forward to a future where all Battle.net players can communicate and game together no matter where they are.”
Battle.net’s global updates also include cross-platform functionality. This has given our game developers the ability to let you play with others between PC and console seamlessly. Overwatch players will be the first to experience these new cross-play capabilities; for more information, check out this blog.
“You will be able to make friends anywhere as games published on Battle.net begin to utilize this evolved experience,” says Goolsbey. “We look forward to a future where billions of players worldwide can make friends and play together, regardless of where they are and what device they play on.”
These backend updates to Battle.net will also enable developers to build even more globally connected experiences for our players in the future, so stay tuned!
Cross-Play is coming to Overwatch soon, allowing players to group up and play together. Powered by the latest global Battle.net update, players from around the world can team up, regardless of their preferred platform*. With the release of cross-play, all players will need to make a Battle.net account and link their appropriate console accounts. With the launch of Cross-Play, everyone who logs in to Overwatch by the end of 2021 will receive a Golden Loot Box to celebrate.