Tuesday, July 6

Blizzard has your name and is gonna use it....

Blizzard bashing is less common than WoW bashing, my own thoughts on WoW being no more highbrow than 'meh' and my thoughts on the company about the same. I wasn't impressed with their silly shiny pony in the cash shop - aren't they making enough money? Neither was I impressed that WoW's success as a hackers delight didn't make Blizzard shy about introducing a higher degree of security and charging you for it. I was still left feeling 'meh' about them and the game, lately though my tin hat has come out and I get a sinking feeling the more and more I read about them ....

Battle.net REAL ID

This is purely voluntary, as it currently stands you either opt in to the full whack or opt out. Opting in means that you can add friends, once you add them they can then see your real name and the real names of anyone else on your friendslist. All that is fine when your a responsible, well rounded adult, in the hands of the more vulnerable I find it a cause for concern. Vulnerable meaning that those unable to recognise what possible impact revealing your name to friends and friends of friends could mean, as we know with Facebook, that friendslist number can help prove that your loved to the other folks who also choose to interpret it as such, in the hands of some it will become like notches in the bed post. To all exccept the very few it will be harmless enough, those of us valueing our privacy will just opt out.


Close on the back of that is the news that now the official forums will be displaying your real name (the one associated with your account). Blizzard's public reasoning is that it will create a much more responsible style of posting, people can't hide behind their forum name and therefore will learn to play nice, to that end they also decided to introduce a rate or hate system for forum posts, which of course will cause more problems than it willl solve.....

Here's a quote from their official post

"With the launch of the new Battle.net, it's important to us to create a new and different kind of online gaming environment -- one that's highly social, and which provides an ideal place for gamers to form long-lasting, meaningful relationships. All of our design decisions surrounding Real ID -- including these forum changes -- have been made with this goal in mind."

On with your tin hat!

So what does this all mean? Why did they do it? I don't for one minute believe that they only had the communities interest at heart. Linking your real name with your friends real names, then their friends real names and having them visible on the forum makes their life a hell of a lot easier when it comes to studying demographics and building databases from browser habits.

As gamers we are quite succesfull at building our own communities, those that need help doing so certainly shouldn't be getting it from the game in the form of an ever increasing web of strangers. Using real names on the forum will lose them a hefty chunk of their community, not just the flamers but anyone who values their privacy. The cynic in me calls shenanigins and that this is nothing short of exploiting a playerbase for information, who else will get access to this info?


  1. I thought the shiny pony was brilliant! I applaud Blizzard for that one. Great idea to rake some cool 25 million in one day for maybe a weeks worth of work.

    But this real name stuff is strange. I see no gain. Blizzard knows the real names of everybody already, since people enter that info when they signed up. They can do all the demographic data mining they want. So the only reason to actually display the names is for others to see.

    It would for me be a reason to stop posting anything on their forum for sure. But actually stop playing all together. And did they do it with reverse effect? Meaning all old forum posts are now showing your real name? If that is the case I think their are lawsuits waiting to happen. Or does it only do it for those that signed up for a REAL ID?

    I agree with you they don't do any of this to protect the innocent. Maybe it is some ploy to close the gap between virtual and real reality. It has nothing to do with WOW. Blizzard is doing some interesting social experimenting on their pions (and let them pay for it). Depending on the result of this experiment they might make some changes for their next project some how.

    MMORPG as a genre is kind of at its end. Blizzard is looking for the next big thing. Why would they make a WOW killer? The only that make sense is to make a MMORPG killer before somebody else does it.

  2. Not a surprise, but this topic is filling up the entire blogosphere. At least Lani's item feed is full of it :) I haven't read any of it yet since I am supposed to be working, but it is hot! I am sticking with my opinion for now though.

  3. I'd been keeping an eye on this but hadn't noticed this post yet :-)

    The consensus is that Blizzard is doing this in an attempt to tie into and cash in on the Facebooks of the world.
    The spiel on accountability has some merit but it's never been an item with Blizzard.

    I didn't much like the RealID for in-game cross server friends to start with. Kinda like the cross server ID's at City of heroes except with your real name from Battle Net entered.

    On the other hand we were just discussing Nash' Gain theory and enlightened self interest and how the Internet seems to support the former whereas histroy shows that in order to form lasting communities you need the latter. And then there's the Greater Dickwad Theory.

  4. The only reason to make someone use their real name is so when they greif you in PVP, it'll be easier to look up where they live on whitepages.com.

    Somehow I don't think people that would go to these lengths would have something as simple as a burning bag of dog poo in mind.

  5. Ooh Fractured! Best argument in favor of it ever :-)

    I think a lot of enveloppe's with washingpowder in them would be sent.

  6. Scot Jennings took the time to get a good comprehensive overview of Blogger reactions to the RealID for Forums plans of Blizzard.
    I don't have access to WOW Europe forums from work. A shmae, it'd be interesting to know if Wryxian defending the concept is already signing his or her posts with their Real Name...

    That reminds me, not a single blogger seems to be willing to mention the sleuth of in-game "girls" who turn out to be Bob, Jack or Ruben in real life. Possibly a couple of Jack's who're Maeve's in RL too. Maybe that aspect is just Too Bloody Obvious too mention?

  7. Oh, and Syncaine's in great form too :-)

  8. I think our trustworthy Ancient Gaming Noob has the most comprehensive debunking of the whole scheme, or at least the one I ageree with the most.

  9. I' not sure how I feel about this but it gets the point across

  10. I'm kinda ok with that Post Geek.
    On one level it's creepy. But on the other hand it IS all publicly available information.
    The main difference is that with folks like Bobby Kotick it's easy to verify if you got the right one. With all the John Smithes of the world who might be playing WOW it's a tad harder to match their Real ID to their Face Book page for instance. One reaosn I'm ok with this is that I wish people would wake up to the sheer irresponsibility of posting anything about yourself on places like Facebook. Anyone posting there has no right to complain about privacy issues whatsoever.

    In fact, I think that Blizzard should do a public pre-alpha test on this scheme. Pre-alpha usually means friends and family plus business partners you can't afford to keep out. The pre-alpha test would mean implementing RealID on the forums for these people only for a two month period, during which time these people can report their findings in the same forum, including reports of harrasment, stalking, slandering e.t.c.

  11. I have been thinking about this a bit more these days, and the privacy is maybe not by biggest problem with it.

    That post proves that we indeed know the names of a lot of people, and easily track more of their details. I seriously doubt I'll ever get anybody that pissed off they will come and stalk me, or come over to beat me up. More likely that will happen with somebody from work. And they even know what I look like. And where I work :)

    My biggest problem is that it utterly destroys my virtual world. The whole idea of escaping into a virtual persona is gone. Whether it is in that virtual game world or simply talking about that virtual game work. The newly born character in game gets killed as soon as I would be connected to the real me.

    I think I will go to great lengths to create false RealID if something like it will become common place. Just because I want to keep my virtual me separate from my real me for my own sake.

  12. You are right Phè.
    The RealID implemntation in game will let you know that Bad Ass Orc Rumpinator has the first name of Ashley in RL, and if you bother to look further turns out to be a pimply faced Youth from Virginia who likes to update his Facebook page and hangs in game with a female Night Elven Huntress Elahana Nightsparrow who goes by the name Bill (Billy to friends) in RL.

    Personally I really don't want to know all that about the people I play with. There's several people I had very good relations with in a game but never learned their real names of. In some cases that's a loss as I wouldn't have minded to hook up with them in a new game, but on the other hand, MMO's are about going to strange new places, meeting exciting new people and get them killed because you're the Healer and went AFK :-)

    Interestingly enough, RealID was first implemented in game before the plans for the forums were even announced. With just a few blogs commenting on the fact that while Horde and Alliance have each other's open world chat garbled (don't speak each other's language) you can become friends with and chat with RealID friends "across the barricades".

    RealID in the game itself is optional and I have no idea how widely it's been adopted by players really. I do know that I'd not use it.