Tobold's Blog
Friday, July 09, 2010
Blizzard backpedals

After the RealID story swapped over from gaming news to regular news like the BBC and the Washington Post, Blizzard decided that it was wiser to listen to their customers concerns. Thus they announced that real names will not be used on the Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft forums. Instead "you will be posting by your StarCraft II character name + character code", which assuming that the character code is unique, gives us all the advantages of being able to trace people's posts, without the disadvantages of revealing real names.

I do think that besides the bad PR, there was also a certain amount of account cancellations involved in that decision. I participated in that with a stupid trick, cancelling my now abandonded multiboxing account which would otherwise just have run out, citing RealID as reason for quitting. :) But by doing so I did notice that the EU account management site was sluggish and gave error messages, so that I only got the cancellation through on the third attempt. I don't assume the account site overload was caused by lots of people subscribing.
Thats how easy it was and is for Blizzard to correct their mistake. I'm not surprised that they corrected it. But I am surprised that they made it in the first place, and took as long as they did to fix it.

Which idiot thought it would be a good idea to allow people to see other users' real name? Seriously.
When I was looking at privacy rules in Europe it seemed like revealing real names without express permission was illegal. Also the privacy policy hadn't been updated on Euro forums.
I wonder if it's Bashiok's information being out there that made em pull the plug on this rather then canncellations or forum feedback.
It bothers me that people expect that this was something that could be easily reversed.

It went all the way up to Mike Morhaime before they changed their mind, a corporate plan on that scale is not easy to turn around.
Now I wonder... is any publicity good publicity? They obviously **** the bed on this one and my guess is that your observation of the account management is bang on.

Let's see if they'll rebound.
I's feeling pleased with meself fer having played a small part in a big victory. Hope everyone elses be too.
"I's feeling pleased with meself fer having played a small part in a big victory. Hope everyone elses be too."

<3 Ratshag, Tobold, Lum, Spinks and everyone else who opposed this.

Well done everyone!
Disappointed that they weren't willing to follow through with this as I expect they knew quite well the reaction they would get from some quarters. Greater transparency on the internet seems inevitable (read: Facebook) but perhaps we aren't ready for it in WoW, gaming being this hideous, shameful vice apparently.
I was trying to 'opt out' of the realID last night via the parental controls and could not accomplish anything. The account managemant login and parental controls were so busy I couldn't even login after a hour of trying.

In my WoW guild, several people have posted on the guild forums that they are temporarily not playing until the privacy issues are fixed.
I cancelled my account too, stating Real-ID as reason (have not reactivated it yet and will watch what they will really do).

I hope the idiot who decided it would be a good idea to post real names on the forum gets fired. He has not the slightest clue about privacy and no hope of ever grasping the concept.
I'd assumed that they had blocked people from cancelling their accounts because of RealID. When I tried to cancel, every time I hit submit and RealID was in the comments field, it would throw up an error. Eventually I just had to leave it blank for it to work.
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So far, many people here seem to agree that Bobby Kotick should be fired. :D
This is a good step for them in the right direction.

But my question is this: Even if you opt out of realID by turning it off with parental controls, does that just turn off your ability to friend someone or does it turn it off completely. I wonder because I am not yet convinced that disabling it this way will make it so that even and addon on your client cannot pass your id to another client.

If you hear anything in this regard Tobold, be sure to let us know.
Well Done Blizzard. Many companies would have tried to ride the storm out for a while.

Common sense may not have prevailed, but a vocal chorus from the community did.

So well done to the naysayers too.
but, SO much more was written about this than just real names on the forums. That's the only thing they back-pedaled on.

Most commented that they would just stop posting on forums, and that they were worthless, anyway.

What about all the hand-wringing about the whole RealID system allowing crazed players to hunt us down and kill us in our basements?

What about the Facebookification of WoW?

What about the children?
"Greater transparency on the internet seems inevitable (read: Facebook) but perhaps we aren't ready for it in WoW, gaming being this hideous, shameful vice apparently."

It could be, for my future employer. I'm not willing to bet a job on the stigma with gaming fade away.

also, you should read the other flaws with the system,not least of which is being female. Trolls will be trolls, with their name on it or not.
I call this was a PR ploy by Blizzard. Make an obviously bad move, let people outrage and take in the publicity it generates for your game, then make the obvious choice and back out, showing that you do listen to your fan base!
"Greater transparency on the internet seems inevitable (read: Facebook) but perhaps we aren't ready for it in WoW, gaming being this hideous, shameful vice apparently."

You too do not see the real problem.

I was part of another gaming community where I chose to use my real name. Keyword here is choice.

German law knows something called "Informationelle Selbstbestimmung" (informational self-determination), you might want to read up about it.
This real id thing for me was never about "Oh my God someone will find out I'm a gamer". For me it was about maintaining my safe haven from the world. When I run around the game I don't want to see Avatars "Bill" or "Tom". Imagine if you picked up the Lord of the Rings and Gandalf's name was George, Frodo was Fred, and Sauron was named Sal. The book would suck. People play games to lose themselves and escape reality for a bit. They want to be a Naga slaying Orc or a Zerg killing Terran Marine. A world filled with plain jane avatar names would just stink. Using an Avatar name with a unique numeric account would be sufficient. I guess Blizzard understimated the number of people who would actually do something about this like canceling their account, or cheesing the system by putting up parental controls, or putting up fake battlenet accounts with game card payments. Every game is just a bad design decision away from the uninstall button. I hope who ever made the RealID call got reamed out and a pink slip as a thank you. And the friend system should allow you to opt in which characters you would like to be seen on instead of all of them. Bad bad design and terribad decision. But the gamers rallied and showed the world that sometimes David can slay Goliath, or at the very least hurt him when cornered.
A great success for the player community and partly a PR success for Blizzard to respond so fast and clearly.

While I disliked the (erratic) way most players argued against Read IDs and fear a society where everybody has to hide his negative traits behind fake identities, I also wouldn't have used Real ID. There is a difference between what I want on a societal level and for myself.

RealIDs are only good if everybody uses them. 11Mio users aren't everybody.

I wouldn't call it a PR success. Blizzard's image has been irreversabley tarnished. They shifted away from giving gamers what we want. Even after they backed down on the forums, I'm still cancelling my accounts. There are other games out there to keep me busy until SW:TOR launches next spring.
Did they have any choice?
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