It's been many years in the making, but an option to appear offline in Blizzard games is now finally available - in the beta version of the Battle.net client at least, and with some limitations. The news was confirmed on Blizzard's official site this morning.
The new feature arrives with a host of new social options for the publisher's social hub, including player groups, profiles and avatars.
First of all there's a brand new Social tab where you can dip into the new features. The Blizzard Groups tool allows you to create and join social spaces based on common interests, for example. Each Group can contain multiple text and voice channels, with moderation tools available for Group managers.
You can also customise your profile with a selection of avatars, and even add a little message about yourself as well. You can also include links to your social media accounts if you wish, and dig a little deeper into friend requests rather than having to blindly accept them.
Finally, there's the “Appear Offline” option itself. Once activated, you'll be able to enjoy your favourite Blizzard titles without friends outside any given game seeing your status. This is handy if you want to indulge in a favourite activity without feeling pressured to help other people with their own adventures.
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Blizzard notes, however, that different games will handle your “offline” status differently. With World of Warcraft given as an example, your guildmates will see you come online and enter chat channels, and in-game friends will see you too. Those outside of WOW will not be able to view your status, however. It's not quite the invisibility cloak many had hoped for, but it will at least allow you to seclude yourself within any given game.
To try out the new changes for yourself, simply fire up your Battle.net application, select Settings from the top-left corner of the client, then click on the Beta tab at the bottom of the list. From there you can opt-in to the new version of the client.