Battle.net Rides Once More Into The Breach

We're going to have to retire one of our favorite jokes about Blizzard. Months after the company rebranded its desktop app from Battle.net to Blizzard App, the company decided to reach a compromise with its customers by re-rebranding the program as Blizzard Battle.net. We doubt anyone will say the "Blizzard" part, though, so the app formerly known as the app formerly known as Battle.net shall regain its old moniker.

This might seem like a minor change, but it could hint at some branding concerns over at Activision Blizzard. (Remember that Blizzard Entertainment the game developer is a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard the gaming juggernaut.) Moving from "Battle.net" to "Blizzard App" was a way for the company to highlight its own brand in its games portal. You play Blizzard games in the Blizzard App. Makes sense, right?

There were just two problems with that plan. The first was that people got used to calling the program Battle.net, and habits are hard to break. In the blog post announcing the shift to Blizzard Battle.net, the company said it was even harder to break that habit than it anticipated:

We understood that Battle.net stood for something special—it represents years of shared history and enjoyment, community and friendship, for all of us and our players. [...] Battle.net is the central nervous system for Blizzard games and the connective tissue that has brought Blizzard players together since 1996. The technology was never going away, but after giving the branding change further consideration and also hearing your feedback, we’re in agreement that the name should stay as well. Take it from the developer formerly known as Silicon & Synapse, and Chaos Studios, names are important too.

The second problem was that Blizzard App wasn't actually limited to Blizzard games—or it won't be when Destiny 2 debuts on PC in October. Destiny 2 was developed by Bungie and will be published by Activision, but the PC version of the game will be housed in the Battle.net app. This makes financial sense, because it means Activision won't have to split revenues with stores like Steam or GOG, but it's confusing brand-wise.

That confusion was exacerbated by the fact that Activision Blizzard referred to the Blizzard App as Battle.net when talking about Destiny 2. That's a smart branding decision—why mention Blizzard when the game has been made and will be published by others?—but it was bound to lead to confusion when people were told that "Battle.net" really meant "Blizzard App" in everything but name. The whole thing was one giant rigmarole.

So now we have the compromise of Blizzard Battle.net, which allows Blizzard to maintain its identity as a developer while also letting games like Destiny 2 live alongside their cousins. (Half-siblings? The genealogy is unclear. Semi-related titles, at least.) Welcome back to the fray.

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