Blizzard moves away from the name

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Today, Blizzard Entertainment announced that they will no longer be using the brand as part of their service. Here’s the official news post:

“We’re going to be transitioning away from using the name for our gaming service and the functionality connected to it. technology will continue to serve as the central nervous system for Blizzard games—nothing is changing in that regard. We’ll just be referring to our various products and services using the Blizzard name instead. You’ve already seen this recently with things like ‘Blizzard Streaming’ and ‘Blizzard Voice’, and more changes are on the way.

When we created, the idea of including a tailored online-gaming service together with your game was more of a novel concept, so we put a lot of focus on explaining what the service was and how it worked, including giving it a distinct name. Over time, though, we’ve seen that there’s been occasional confusion and inefficiencies related to having two separate identities under which everything falls—Blizzard and Given that built-in multiplayer support is a well-understood concept and more of a normal expectation these days, there isn’t as much of a need to maintain a separate identity for what is essentially our networking technology.

We just wanted to make sure everyone was aware as we moved forward with this change over the next several months; we’ll provide any relevant updates as the transition progresses.” was first introduced in 1996 with the release of Diablo. Its main purpose was to provide in game chat for its players, and to help with finding multiplayer games (which essentially still holds true today). Starcraft was then released in 1998 and it helped increase the popularity of the service.

Older version of from the 1998 release of Starcraft.

Over the years it has evolved and progressed into being the main portal for any and all Blizzard games, and as an avid fan and gamer, the service has been an invaluable tool for the social aspect of my experience. For anyone that has played with Blizzard for a while, I would guess that there wasn’t much confusion. Blizzard was the company and was the service where your account, settings, and friends lived.

The latest version of in 2016

So when I first heard this news, my initial instinct was “Why?” Other than marketing and branding, there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for the change. Other companies have dual identities (Valve has the Steam client, Riot has the League of Legends client) and they work well. Where was Blizzard going with this?

Then I remembered that earlier this year, Activision Blizzard bought MLG, and with the highlight in the news post of “Blizzard Streaming” and “Blizzard Voice,” it made me wonder, are they gearing up for something bigger? More interactive? If they were to integrate the MLG streaming infrastructure into the client, could we see a service similar to Twitch?

Blizzard has been positioning itself to have more of a presence in the eSports scene. In fact, their annual conference (Blizzcon) — which is traditionally known for its cosplay/costume contests and major announcements — has become the final destination for all of their eSports competitions held throughout the year.

If the client were to be more like Twitch and eSports is the target, they would have a huge pool of users that could generate content, and talent, for them. Which could then possibly translate to ad-revenue, cable exposure, and ultimately a higher bottom line.

What do you think Blizzard’s move is? What would you like to see them do? Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

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