On Thursday Blizzard introduced BattleTags, a new method of identification that doesn't require players to display their real names across the entire Battle.net landscape. More specifically, it's a unified, player-chosen nickname that will identify each player in all Blizzard games, on the official websites and in the community forums.
In a post on the Diablo 3 website, Blizzard said it will begin testing in the next patch for the Diablo 3 beta test, adding basic in-game functionality like chatting and friends list support. However as of Thursday, players can now create and use their BattleTag when posting on the Diablo 3 community website. Eventually BattleTags will encompass the entire Battle.net community -- World of Warcraft, StarCraft 2 -- at a later, unspecified date.
"BattleTags will ultimately give players on Battle.net a new way to manage public profiles, find and chat with friends they've met while playing, form groups, and stay connected across multiple Blizzard games," the company said. "While most of these features are coming soon, players who wish to pick a BattleTag now can do so via Battle.net Account Management. Note that BattleTags are not unique, meaning multiple players can choose the same BattleTag."
Blizzard's new BattleTag system is in response to complaints over its previous cross-game friend system, Real ID. This system actually forced users to provide their real name with everyone on their friends list, thus raising privacy concerns, especially in regards to those under the age of 18. Blizzard killed the requirement to use real names on the Battle.net forums just three days after Real ID launched, and then later provided a means for Blizzard customers to opt-out, letting them skip Real ID altogether.
Blizzard's new BattleTags identifier seemingly borrows from Microsoft's Xbox Live where users choose one alias that's used across the board. "We look forward to sharing more about all of the ways they’ll help you connect and play in the months ahead," the company said without disclosing additional details. "Stay tuned to Blizzard's official community sites for further details."
Blizzard has provided an FAQ which can be accessed here. It points out that the BattleTag isn't unique, but rather is "automatically assigned a 4-digit BattleTag code, which combines with your chosen name to create a unique identifier."