Screenshot of the new Blizzard Battle.net client

After what feels like an eternity of being strung around with empty promises Blizzard has finally done the unimaginable: added an "appear offline" option to their Battle.net client! So if you ever wanted to play World of Warcraft at ungodly hours of the night without being judged by your fellow sleepless friends, you now have the option to do just that.

Besides the new "appear offline" option, the latest Beta client has also brought with it a new social tab, the ability to form groups with common interests, as well as profiles and avatars to customize the whole experience. Groups and profiles are currently only available in the North American beta client, but everything else is fully online world-wide, so feel free to give it a look and offer Blizzard some much-needed feedback.

While the options are fairly self-explanatory, you can learn just a little bit more by heading over to the official website. If you just want the short version, however, here's a few of the more important quotes from the announcement:

"Blizzard Groups are a new way for you to connect with your friends and plan your next mission. Players can create and join Groups based on their common interests. There, they can keep in touch, share strategies, and catch up on conversations they might have missed while offline. Each Group can have multiple text and voice chat channels, and Group administrators have a variety of tools to help manage membership, send out invitation links, and more.

Your profile will allow you to select an avatar, share what’s on your mind with an About message, add links to where people can find you on social media, and more! You can also view profiles of other players if you’re curious about a pending friend request or what games a friend plays.

Appear offline allows you to set your status to show you as “offline” to your Blizzard friends while remaining connected to Battle.net. This means you can launch the app and game away without distraction. Appearing offline will show you as offline to everyone in your Blizzard friends list. Once you have joined a game, the experience of appearing offline might be slightly different depending on which game you are playing. In the case of World of Warcraft, your guildmates will see your character come online and enter WoW’s in-game chat channels, and anyone who has you as a character-level friend will see you online on their friends list. Everyone outside of the same game as you will not see you online or playing any games.

Do you see a friend who’s offline but you really want to send them a message while it’s on your mind? You can now send offline friends messages and they will receive them the next time they come online! While appearing offline you can still send and receive messages in the app, but it is up to you when you want to respond."

These aren't major changes by any stretch, but they are definitely a welcome addition. I'm particularly interested in how the whole group system will work, because if its done well it could be a pseudo-clan system, a place for like-minded players to gather and assemble teams for competitive play. Given how much you rely on your team in games like Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch, this could actually be a major improvement to the quality of matches! Whether that's actually going to be the case, I'm afraid we'll simply have to wait and see.

Screenshot of Deckard Cain's Battle.net profile under the new system

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