"Battle.net has actually got more players on it than World of Warcraft," Blizzard's Rob Pardo reminded the crowd at the beginning of his talk. The service has 12 million players to WoW's 11.5 million. nope The new Battle.net will feature standard panes for news, profiles/avatars, and achievements. The biggest news was the new "Real ID" system, which allows players to communicate across all of Blizzard's games in Xbox Live fashion.
Real ID also links achievements across all of Blizzard's games and characters, meaning players won't need to re-earn achievements on one character that they earned on another.
Pardo went into detail on custom map support. Map makers can now publish their work directly to the service.
A future system that won't be available at launch dubbed the "StarCraft 2 Marketplace" will allow players to find and browse maps, and rate and comment on those maps. The system will also support "premium" maps, which map makers can choose to charge a fee for.
The service will also now store your settings and saved games in the cloud, allowing players to access them from any computer.
Leagues are broken down into brackets, with ratings like "gold" and "silver" allowing for many practice and pro leagues. Casual features include practice leagues with no-rush maps and co-op skirmish modes.
The party system works in a similar way to inviting buddies in World of Warcraft. Once in a party, the leader can select the game and begin the match. After the round is over, the party simply heads back out to the party lobby.
A new custom game search allows players to filter by genre, while maps and modes will be automatically stacked in the initial list to allow for easy selection.
Pardo also talked about how the persistent Battle.net account structure will prevent "smurfing," or creating new Battle.net accounts to pick on new players.
The internal chat system resembles a simple instant messanger system.
A newly announced system will also allow players to unlock decals that can be applied to units in StarCraft II.
The revamped Battle.net is planned to launch alongside StarCraft 2 in early 2010.