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StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm's new Groups feature detailed by Blizzard

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

The Heart of the Swarm expansion for StarCraft 2 will add two key social features: Clans and Groups. While Clans, previously detailed by Blizzard, are geared toward competitive StarCraft 2 players, Groups are designed to foster more casual in-game associations.

On the official StarCraft website, Blizzard details how Groups work on and how they'll differ from Clans. Like Clans, Groups will have their own channel, news feeds and rosters. Groups will be able to accept a "near limitless" number of members, while Clans are limited to just 50 members. And players will be able to join up to 20 Groups per character, as opposed one Clan per character.

"The Groups feature is a way for you to meet and interact with other StarCraft 2 players who share common interests," Blizzard writes. "Accordingly, when you create a Group, you'll select a category that best describes the type of Group you are creating. These categories include topics such as BarCraft for Groups that are interested in finding and keeping in touch with friends they've made at BarCraft events, Strategy and Coaching for Groups that are looking to share their favorite strategies and helping others improve their play, and many more."

Clans and Groups are similar in functionality, Blizzard says, "so we anticipate that some people will use them interchangeably at first. Moving forward, our development focus on the Clans feature will be to add more competitive features, whereas Groups will remain geared around casual social interactions."

Groups will go live in the Heart of the Swarm beta with patch 2.0.2.

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm will be released on Windows and Mac on March 12, 2013.