[Long post]: My first impressions of the beta build

I’m really excited to see that the devs are finally paying attention to the Battle Net app experience. This is really long overdue and has been requested (especially by myself) extensively over the years.

Unfortunately, I feel that the costs far outweigh the benefits in this case. I’ll go ahead and break down some of the pros and cons that jump out at me:

  • Much better peripheral awareness of friends!
    It’s nice that I don’t need to go to the (now non-existent) social tab to get an idea of who’s online and what they’re up to. I definitely feel a lot more connected to my people this way.

  • The interface looks good. Really good.
    I can’t really stress enough how different this experience is, just from a visual standpoint. As a designer myself, I really appreciate how sleek and light the UI feels, even in spite of all the beautiful gradients and the animations. I am very impressed with the new visual style of Battle Net. If the visuals alone are any indication of the devs’ commitment to a fresh experience, then I think we have plenty to hope for.

  • The social tab has been removed!?
    Release version of Battle Net allows us to choose between using the app entirely for launching games, entirely for chatting with friends, or using multiple windows to do both simultaneously. Now you need to have two windows open to chat with friends, meaning that there’s a net loss of functionality compared with the release version.

  • You can’t even display all games.
    This one is a bit of a nitpick, but it’s kind of a ridiculous little “bug”. “You can only favorite 9 games”, so you will always have to leave at least 1 game out of your rotation. It’s probably unlikely that anyone needs all of the games displayed, but this is a dumb limitation given the enormous amount of space in the top bar.

  • All displayed games are considered “favorites”.
    Another nitpick. But it doesn’t make sense that having no “favorites” means you have no games displayed.

  • The feed for each game is very busy and messy.
    Being that the feed for each game seems to automatically populate the maximum amount of space possible, it means that there’s a lot of overlap between the games. It seems to me like the idea is for this launcher to be more like the new Steam. LESS IS MORE, THOUGH. I don’t want each page to be absolutely packed with spam, especially when a lot of the items in each game’s feed are shared between multiple games. I think that a lot of the stuff in each game’s feed could just be thrown into a broad “What’s new” tab where there’s just general news about all of Blizzard. And then maybe you could have a filter to see which news you want. But currently, there’s a LOT of redundant information, and it’s really messy.

So to sum up my thoughts, the beta version really doesn’t bring much useful functionality to the table for the end user. The friends list is a quality of life improvement and the ui itself looks absolutely fantastic, but you guys took 1 step forward and 2 steps back when it comes to the overall messy and cluttered look of the app as well as removing functionality from chatting and displaying your games.

What we need is the ability to customize our experience. I don’t want every game’s page to be as full as possible with information that isn’t even relevant to the game. Give me some REALLY basic news filters so I can have the clean, minimal experience that the UI is just begging to give me. Maybe give the news feed about a quarter of the screen real estate it currently occupies. Maybe use some of the empty space to display the screenshot folders that we have for each game.

The ultimate takeaway here for me is that it does look fantastic, but I’ll be sticking with the release version of the app because I value function over form.

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