Blizzard has launched its new Battle.net online gaming and account management service. At present, it's simply a unified login that will work for up to eight World of Warcraft accounts and all future Blizzard games such as StarCraft II and Diablo III, as well as Blizzard's online store.
Players who've already created one of the stop-gap Blizzard Accounts have had that login automatically transferred to the new Battle.net.
Merging World of Warcraft accounts with Battle.net accounts is currently only available in the Americas. Europe and Korea will get this service at a later date. It's currently optional, but "we will eventually require all active World of Warcraft accounts to migrate over to Battle.net Accounts in order to continue playing," according to the FAQ.
"With the upcoming releases of StarCraft II and Diablo III, having one unified account system allows us to ensure the highest-quality user experience and customer support for our players. In addition, the new Battle.net Account system will give World of Warcraft players access to certain future Battle.net service features and updates," it continues.
There are few hints as to what these future service features will be, with the FAQ simply referring to "tools to make it easier for friends to communicate between games and to help bring our community of players closer together". However, Blizzard has previously suggested a unified achievement system similar to Xbox Live or Steam.
"Eventually, our plans are for the Achievement system to become an account-based system... For now, the points are just a WOW character score," said former WOW lead designer Jeff Kaplan last year. "As we graduate to that Blizzard Account system, which is right on the horizon, it will switch over to a Blizzard Level... Rather than call it a 'score', we just wanted it to be like you're levelling up on Blizzard games."
You can currently add multiple Blizzard games to the Battle.net account by entering their CD keys, and once done, this will allow you to download the game clients at any time direct from the Battle.net website. The new account system is entirely separate from the old Battle.net, now called Battle.net Classic, so Warcraft III, Diablo II and StarCraft players will still need their old logins.
Expect the full Battle.net picture to become clear when StarCraft II launches, which is expected to be later this year.