In a recent interview, Battle.net head Greg Canessa claimed that Xbox Live only "scratched the surface" of what Blizzard's online service is planning with achievements, metagame rewards, avatars, and ladders.
"The set of online game services we provided over there, whether it was GamerScore or TrueSkill matchmaking or achievements or any of those systems, had to be build with the fact that they were a platform in mind. Call of Duty and Lego Star Wars and Bejeweled all had to sit on that platform," he explained. "To a certain extent, that drives how deeply or not deep you can integrate those game services with specific gaming scenarios. We were bound by that constraint."
Before joining Blizzard, Canessa was the vice president of PopCap, and before that he was the general manager of Xbox Live Arcade at Microsoft.
"At Blizzard, we are not bound by that constraint, and that's actually one of the key aspects of the vision that attracted me to the company when Rob [Pardo] called," he added. "He was like, 'Hey, listen. What if you could build an online game service that had that level of sophistication or greater, but you weren't bound by the constraints of being a platform provider? You could come out of it from a perspective of, 'What you could you do with those online game services by deeply integrating them into specific games?''
"We just scratched the surface with Xbox Live of what you could do with achievements. Wow, you can earn achievements. Great. But what if you customize those achievements really deeply and build really compelling meta-game scenarios around unlockable rewards, or decals and avatars, and ladders and leagues for StarCraft II?"
"Those things would be really hard to do for Xbox Live. Believe me, I was on the other side. We would have loved to do that stuff, but we couldn't do it because we couldn't integrate it. Some games, it applies; some games, it doesn't apply. You can't do that sort of custom stuff."
"At Blizzard, we're not bound by that constraint. We have a small number of titles we can deeply integrate in and create these kick-ass custom around-the-game features and meta-game services for a small number of games. That is our key distinguisher, and that is something I'm super excited about."
"I believe the industry just collectively has only scratched the surface on what's possible with these online gaming services. I think the real next generation is about being able to pay off with some of those deeply integrated scenarios," Greg Canessa concluded.