User's were required to sign up for a free account before they could use the service. Heat used a custom application which launched after successful login from the Heat.net website. Most multiplayer games that used TCP/IP or IPX protocols were supported at the time.
Each supported game had its own chat lobby and game creation options. Similar to Battle.net users could create public or private game rooms, and edit game settings (map, max players, etc). Friends lists were supported along with private chat. The ability to join a game that already started was also available. When a game was launched the Heat application would minimize until you finished playing.
The later years saw the Heat.net website grow to be more than just a portal to launch multiplayer games. Each supported game had its own community page that would include news, patches and relevant downloads.
Players could earn points called "degrees" that could be used towards prizes. Degrees were obtained through winning tournaments, entering contests, recruiting friends to the service, and also by simply playing on the network.
Free members could not spend earned degrees and every month their degrees were reset. Premium membership cost a monthly fee, allowing users to spend their degrees and use them towards prizes which included games and swag.
Foot soldiers were introduced as a way to promote Heat. Users who signed up to the promotion got a free t-shirt and dog tag and were encouraged to recruit friends.
A page-click ad model was also implemented to increase revenue and to move away from the paid memberships.
With the rise of online gaming the service was extremely popular at its height. FPS games like Quake and Unreal Tournament saw many users flock to the Heat.net service. Especially since most games at the time did not have in game browsers like Gamespy to find servers.
The first logo used was was a peace symbol with a crosshair in the middle. Which reflected the stance on game violence not real violence.
This logo also reflected a few of its motto's:
- Total peace through cyberviolence.
- Kill pixels not people.
- Cyberbullets cause no pain.
"The HEAT mission is clear: divert your dangerous impulses away from reality and into cyberspace."