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Battle.net (formerly Blizzard Battle.net, with the current rename taking place on March 31, 2021 back to the original name of the platform) is a free online gaming service originally created in 1996 by Blizzard Entertainment to facilitate the growth of its video games, namely Warcraft II: Battle.net Edition, Diablo, and StarCraft. Diablo II and Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (and its expansion, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne) would later also use Battle.net.
Being a wholly closed, commercial venture, and with the complication that use of the service (after the initial investment in a game that uses it) is free, Battle.net teeters between balance and order often. Blizzard frequently takes, some might say draconian, action in banning game CD-keys and Battle.net account names associated with game exploits, cheating, and game hack modifications.
For this and other reasons, the bnetd project, basically an emulation of Battle.net, was created to allow players to use the online-play capabilities of Battle.net without having to play by Blizzard's rules (since Blizzard's servers would be cut out of the picture). Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Blizzard ordered the bnetd project to Cease and Desist in early 2002.
During World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, a new service was envisaged by the developers of Blizzard Entertainment; a combination of a launcher and friend system culminated in what was first known as the Battle.net Launcher. This went through several renames; the current name of the client is Battle.net, although it was previously known as the Blizzard Desktop App and Blizzard Battle.net. Before the desktop app, games such as World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Diablo III were launched via their own standalone launcher called the Blizzard Launcher, specifically themed for each game, in addition to needing individual download applications obtained from Blizzard's website.
The launcher supports the following Blizzard Entertainment video games, and is currently officially supported on both Microsoft Windows and macOS.
- World of Warcraft (supported since the Mists of Pandaria expansion, the Beta of the launcher supported the Cataclysm expansion.)
- The World of Warcraft: Classic demo was available via the launcher during the late 2018 beta test, and was listed until it was replaced with the full version upon its launch. This was then joined by World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic in 2021.
- Diablo III and its expansion pack, Reaper of Souls, plus the DLC Diablo III: Rise of the Necomancer
- Heroes of the Storm
- StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, and its expansion packs, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void
- StarCraft: Remastered
- Warcraft III: Reforged
- Blizzard Arcade Collection
- Diablo II: Resurrected
The launcher also supports or supported the following video games that have been published by Activision:
- Destiny 2 (removed on October 1, 2019)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
- Call of Duty: Warzone
- Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time
The client itself supports automatic patching for the games outlined above and is able to pre-load expansion content before official release. There is currently no in-launcher support for Blizzard Entertainment's legacy video games Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, Diablo II, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War, and it is currently not possible to even download the original Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos or Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne installers via Battle.net. The Launcher supports two-factor authentication via both the Battle.net Authenticator and Blizzard Mobile Authenticator.
- Bungie. (2019-08-08). Destiny 2 - PC Move to Steam. Bungie. Retrieved on 2019-08-27