Are you serious?
The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID — that is, their real-life first and last name — with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. Certain classic forums, including the classic Battle.net forums, will remain unchanged.
Are you serious?
This is just asking for people to steal any B.net user’s identities. This is just asking people to resort to real-life harassment, especially for anyone with an extremely uncommon name. I don’t know if you know this, Blizzard, but it’s pretty easy to find someone using a background-check service like beenverified.com. If there’s only a few people with a specific name and their address just happens to be known by such a service, good game for them! They better be smart enough not to post on your forums.
I don’t think you guys understand just how serious this is. This is not some community store we’re shopping in to buy groceries, where pretty much everyone knows you already live in the neighborhood. This is a game with an entirely different social dynamic. People on the Internet are not easy to deal with, real name or not. Already, people have decried the friends of friends issue with RealID in the game itself. And you told us if you don’t want your name displayed, then just don’t add people. Oh, but then you can’t use a potentially great service, simply because you fear for your privacy.
But now we can’t even post on the forums? What if I have a technical problem, but I don’t want reveal my real name? I guess I’m shit out of luck, huh? I’ll have to sit in the hour-long phone queue for customer service. Or I’ll have to wait a few days for an email response to my issue. Because I can’t post where other players in the community can help me more efficiently.
I’m sorry. But this is not happening. I highly doubt even more than 10% of the playerbase is going to support this. Just like the friends of friends name issue was decried almost universally, this will be decried even moreso. And I fully expect you will even lose customers over this.
I understand trolling and flaming is a serious issue. So what. That’s the price we pay for privacy. And we’re willing to pay it. And for some people, if that means cancelling their accounts, I bet they’ll go that far.
So back off already! And pay attention to what people are saying about RealID! This isn’t like making a game decision where we can just grit our teeth and see if it works out or not. This is serious. This is nothing to experiment with. And I don’t know who is calling the shots on this, but please tell them to pay attention to what’s going on over at Facebook. Yeah, you can see people’s real name on Facebook. But there’s an option to hide it from people other than your friends (even from friends of friends). People were already irked with the subtleties of RealID. And now it’s about to get even worse.
Prepare for massive backlash, until you change your policies. Prepare for people to migrate to privately-run forums. Prepare for some people to cancel their accounts. Prepare for protests at Blizzcon, even.
And just so I can be constructive, let me offer my own idea to combat trolling: allow people to access a list of every single character tied to the character or profile from which someone has posted. It’s simple, without compromising a piece of someone’s real-life privacy. And you’ll even make money off the hardcore trolls, since they’ll be forced to buy another account or game copy.
Most forum systems retroactively update (name changed characters apply retroactively, for example). Unless Bliz decides otherwise, its a safe bet that old posts will have RL names associated.
You can lookup each of your characters and delete their posts. Time consuming, but its what I did… (rag@WoW.com)
This makes me realize just how difficult it will be to recruit for a guild, as well. If you want to recruit for a guild, but you don’t want to have your real name plastered all over Google searches that return Blizzard forum posts, you’ll have to buy another account. But how many people want to give money to a company adopting stupid policies like this? I sure as hell don’t.
The more people point things out, the more annoyed I become. I dare not threaten to cancel my account, because most people who threaten don’t actually do it. And there’s a chance Blizzard could change their policy. But it sure as hell is pushing me towards it, because I really don’t want to support a company making terrible decisions like this.
Hell, when I think about it, I don’t even have to use my real name with my local newspaper. So I can say what I have to say without enabling job recruiters from seeing my name attached to any political viewpoints plastered in the reader letters of the op/ed section.
Larisa makes a damn good entry about the issue over at The Pink Pigtail Inn. It’s more constructive than my emotion-laden argument. And she’s also pointed out something I didn’t realize immediately: people who cried about it potentially turning into a slippery slope were right. I didn’t think Blizzard would take it this far. Boy, was I wrong.
We put a lot of thought into this change and have a long-term vision for the Real ID service and wanted to make sure that we communicated ahead of time and very clearly as to what will be changing and how. Keep in mind that posting is optional, and we recognize that some players will choose not to utilize the Real ID feature in game or post on the forums and support everyone’s individual choice on using or not using it.
So if you’re looking for help in the form of technical support or information about the game (be it from Blizzard employees or other customers), but you don’t want to reveal your private information, don’t post. It’s optional, afterall.
Bad. Business. Decision. Full stop. Stop trying to dance around it. The whole Real ID thing is nothing so special that should warrant a sacrifice of privacy.
Or have you not seen God Mode’s blog entry where he takes the name of one of your employees (freely given by the employee) and proceeds to find where (he thinks) he lives, who he lives with, his Facebook page, his Twitter, etc.? I’d link to it, but I’m afraid of breaking something in the EULA. But the point is it’s possible and it’s fucking dangerous. Even if the address is wrong (and I suspect it is), it’s still dangerous. Dangerous to the person living there, regardless of whether or not it’s actually him.
Get your heads on straight, Blizzard. If you don’t, say goodbye to my Starcraft 2 pre-order. And don’t expect me to try your next gen MMO if this policy continues.
So it’s clear, your forums names won’t change retroactively. So I guess that’s one less concern. Doesn’t change mine or others’ overall opinions.
“what kind of society do we live in that we need fear our neighbors learn our names?”
Well. For starters, what right do you have to know my name? What if I don’t want you to know it (and I still want to use the forums to organize raids or recruit for my guild)? Why do you want to know my name? What possible use is it to you?
About that last one… Sure, real names allow Good People to recognize previously encountered douchebags on sight and avoid them, but they allow Bad People to locate and torment the Good People. The upside for Good People is approximately jack squat, because it’s already not that hard to avoid previously encountered jerks in-game without real names. The upside for Bad People is far greater (e.g. zero social engineering effort to determine someone’s name). It streamlines the harassment workflow and offers little in return. (Informis @ brokentoys.org)
Teamliquid.net, a popular Starcraft community, has posted a poll asking people “Will you post on forums under full name?” As of writing this section, 1973 people have voted “No,” 375 people have voted “Yes,” and 211 have said they “Will create battle.net account with false name.” That means only 15% of the playerbase will post when real names are enforced on the forums. This also means that 85% do not want to post under their real names.
Let me say that one more time with formatted emphasis.
That means 85% of people in the hardcore Starcraft community do not want to post under their real names.
Nevermind that some people on Team Liquid are professional Starcraft players and people already know their full names.
Over at Bashiok’s Twitter, discovered because he voluntarily revealed his real name:
@micahwhipple is there any hope if i dont want to share my real life information for me to keep playing any blizzard game?
@agcemo Choosing to post and show your Real ID on a forum, that is your real first and last name, doesn’t involve playing a Blizzard game.
You’re telling me the community experience is not a part of the game? You’re making a rebuttal with a literal interpretation that doesn’t reflect the reality of the gaming experience. Especially the massively multiplayer onling gaming experience. Communicating with other players is very much a part of it. Communicating with the staff is very much a part of it. And the company you’re working for is making it very difficult to do that.
InsideFacebook.com, a site dedicated to the social network, said meanwhile that Facebook’s growth slowed in the United States in June as it picked up only 320,800 new monthly active users last month compared with 7.8 million in May.
Inside Facebook said the slowdown in growth could “simply be a blip.”
“But in the years we’ve been tracking the demographic data, we’ve rarely seen a dip like this, so we would tend to favor the idea of a root cause,” it said.
“One possibility is that we’re finally seeing the backlash from heavy media attention to Facebook privacy issues — some of which were real, some the result of confusion and sensationalism,” it added. (Source)
Wake up, Blizzard! This could be a potentially serious issue for you. You’re already in the mainstream media over at BBC News.