Battle.net is going beyond Blizzard. The Overwatch and Hearthstone publisher today said it is opening up its digital distribution platform to Destiny 2, the upcoming first-person shooter developed by Bungie and published by sister company Activision.
The PC version of Destiny 2 will exclusively support Battle.net (although physical copies will be sold at retail), which will integrate its established social features like chat and party formation while allowing Bungie to run the game on its own servers. Similarly, Bungie will handle "gameplay customer service" while Blizzard takes care of issues specific to the Battle.net platform and storefront.
"Blizzard has an established and successful global internet infrastructure we've used for years to support our own games," the company said in a post announcing the partnership. "Creating a new network client for Destiny 2, which is bringing the franchise to PC for the first time, would needlessly extend the development period for the game. We want to get our hands on Destiny 2 as soon as possible like everybody else, so we offered to share our PC platform with our sister companies for this release."
Selling the game through Battle.net also means not having to pay other online storefronts a cut of the revenue. And while the move raises the question of whether Activision Blizzard would like to turn Battle.net into its own version of Steam, Blizzard suggested it would keep Battle.net's catalog limited to its games and those of its corporate family.
"Our focus in terms of supporting non-Blizzard games is solely around Destiny 2," Blizzard said. "Aside from potentially evaluating needs or opportunities for future Activision games, we don't have any short- or long-term plans to support third-party games with Battle.net. It's important to us to maintain our quality standards for any experience or service we're putting in front of our players, which represents a big investment of time and effort on our part, so this is not something we're jumping into lightly."
The addition of another developer's game might not be the only change to Battle.net here. In announcing the partnership, Blizzard is apparently reversing course on its decision last September to phase out the Battle.net brand in favor of simply calling it "Blizzard Tech," a decision it was taking steps toward as recently as March.