While it’s true that Blizzard has always liked money, it’s certainly interesting to note how their merger with Activision last July has caused their love of currency to visibly intensify. The sharp left turn taken by Blizzard’s marketing strategies first became apparent when they announced that they would be releasing the upcoming StarCraft II in not one, but three separate installments. Then they announced that they’d be nuking LAN support, requiring copies of the software to be verified through Battle.net (though there’s been an update on that). Needless to say, a lot of people were very unhappy. Now CEO Paul Sams has revealed in an interview with gamesindustry.biz that Blizzard is considering “all sorts of possibilities” in regards to Battle.net, including the idea of charging players for use of the service.
Before you run out the door to douse yourself with gasoline in protest of the impending DRM apocalypse, keep in mind that Sams isn’t speaking exclusively about methods for milking moolah. Rather, he’s trying to give consumers a general idea of Battle.net’s possible future. Sams says that free or not, the Battle.net platform is long overdue for some changes to push it beyond the simple matchmaking service it once was, stating that the revisions will “have long-term positive implications for gamers.” The CEO also expressed confidence that Blizzard is working for the benefit of its loyal fanbase, citing the “trust relationship” that Blizzard has built with its fans over the years. Even so, charging players for the ability to play online with games they’ve already payed for is a pretty dastardly idea for a publisher to have these days. If Battle.net ceases to be a free platform, I can only hope that the massive overhaul Blizzard is planning warrants the expenses it might impose.