A Goldfish Muses about Starcraft


Three Features that could Open Up Battle.Net

It’s hard to go a week without reading somebody’s idea for a battle.net feature or improvement that would help Starcraft 2. Most of these suggestions are things Blizzard (and only Blizzard) could add in-game.

The simple fact of software development is there’s never enough hours in the day to develop all the things you (or your customers) want. Sometimes the best thing to do is stop asking “how do I provide this feature?” and instead ask “what can I do to allow other people to provide this feature?”

You only have to look at the great tools that are being built in the Starcraft 2 community to see that the talent and motivation exists to fill a great many of the “holes” in battle.net, if only they had the ability to do so.

So here are three features that could, if implemented together, open up a wide scope for external developers to build cool stuff on top of Starcraft, or improve the stuff they are already building.

1. Online Replay Storage

The free tier of Dropbox offers 2GB of storage, (plus 500MB per referral you make, up to 18GB max). I’m reasonably confident battle.net could cost-effectively store at least your last 6 months of replays for free, then offer a paid subscription to increase that limit.

2. OAuth

For the layman, OAuth is the technology that powers the “log in with Facebook” and “log in with Twitter” buttons found on so many websites these days.

Being able to “log in with Battle.Net” would allow sites like ggtracker to automatically associate a new customer with their SC2 profile, without going through the clunky step of manually authenticating players by asking them to change their portrait.

It would also mean that players could opt in to allowing third party sites higher access to their profile than the general public.

For example in combination with online replays storage, ggtracker could automatically be granted access to all your replays—pulling down your last six months of games the moment you sign up, then regularly polling for new games, or even better, being informed via a webhook whenever you finish a game and a new replay is available so you can literally alt-tab straight from the victory screen to the website analysing your latest match.

3. Third Party Match Creation

What if a third-party site could use the SC2 REST API to set up matches for players who had given it (via OAuth) permission to do so? What if, on the completion of that match, battle.net called a webhook on the originating server with the result of the match and the location of the replay?

It would mean that instead of waiting on Blizzard to provide in-game tournament or clan war support, the community could build their own tournament sites that integrated seamlessly with the game. Streamers could use the feature to automate “games with subscribers” days. Custom game developers could even build their own web-based match-finder or ladder system.