Wednesday, July 7, 2010

And now what?

The blogosphere and the forums are still in uproar after the news of yesterday that we won’t be able to post on the forums anymore without revealing our real life names.

Tobold calls it a PR disaster. Spinksville holds her breath, wondering what next action from Blizzard will be, and so do I.

Will they change their minds?
Can the community reaction make them change their minds? This isn’t the first time we see mega-long threads filled with thousands and thousands of protests against some recently announced change in the game. It has happened over and over again over the years and I’ve until now never ever seen them back on any decision as a result of an outcry from the community. Never. So why would it be different this time? (If someone who’s been around longer knows of any occasion, please tell about it in a comment, giving us some hope.)

I don’t think for a second that they care about what your innkeeper things and writes in these matters. I may wish they did, but they don’t. To believe it matters is about as stupid to write “WoW is dying” posts just because you’re quitting the game. It’s childish and I’ll save my worst doom and gloom for when it’s really needed.

This said, we’ve already seen a couple of people announce that they’re quitting now because of this. Gnomeaggedon is one of them, and this makes me immensely sad, since he’s been around in this inn since the start. He’s a friend, but he’s also a long-time contributor to the community and his balls of fire will be deeply missed by many if this means that he’ll quit blogging as well.

But does Gnome’s exodus make any big difference to Blizzard? Probably not, I’m sad to say. I’m not even sure they’ll notice. They haven’t exactly displayed any huge interest in the blogging community in the past.

It might take them a little bit harder though when Big Names such as Ciderhelm at Tankspot, who also is a part of their official fansite programme, speaks up and says it’s a really bad idea. Maybe we’ll see some more if this incoming. It will be interesting to see The Instance’s take on this.

What might worry the PR staff
I think it takes a little more than this though to get the PR department really worried. If some national media picks up this story and the reactions – and possibly some examples of players who have been stalked and harassed in reality – it will at least make them a little worried. They’ve worked hard on trying to make gaming into an accepted activity, a form of entertainment that all of the family can participate in, feeling safe and comfortable. It’s hard enough to build this image and they don’t need stains on it.

Companies don’t easily change their minds, backing away from a bad decision after customer complaints. Some really bad media coverage might make them thinking, starting to consider some damage control. The threat of financial losses is far more powerful though.

I’m not sure what kind of revenue they expect from the change, apart from that they can fire a few forum moderators. Will it outweigh some cancelled subscriptions and a bit of bad publicity? Obviously they think so. Until now I’ve had a problem to see what there really is to win on it, which probably says more about my lack of knowledge about the social media circus than about how profitable it is.

I can’t see how it can give them new customers. What they could do of course is to launch a premium service, a “granted anonymity programme”, where you could keep posting on your main if you paid let’s say… 2.99 dollars a month for it.

That was a joke. I hope.

Tesh says that identity has a financial value these days. Clueless as I am, I still don’t quite understand how, but Blizzard probably does and that’s why this is happening.

More blue comments
Wryxian is having a bad day at work, trying to moderate the EU forums.

He has posted a couple of comments that I’m now trying to interpret. In the first one he says that they’ve been planning this for a very long time and that they’re well aware of that many people will stop posting, which they’re fine with “because we want to change these forums dramatically in a positive and more constructive direction”.

“There are many threads on this forum now, and over the last few years, that people have been constructively discussing many aspects of the game. They've received new wisdom and have then been able to go back to the game and enjoy it further with the new knowledge acquired through the forums. “
So. We who have real life careers to worry about and can’t post on the forums anymore, can go there and “receive the wisdom” of the few who still want to post and then go back and enjoy the game even more than before. Sounds like a plan.

Sorry, I got a little bit edgy there.

What the moderators are doing now is mostly to lock all those new threads popping up, desperately trying to keep it all together in one mega-thread at the EU forums and another one at the US. Fair enough, I can understand that. You may wonder if they even read all those comments. Is there any point at all in writing there? If you should believe Wryxian there is.

“We want you to know we are very much aware of the range of reactions being displayed here. We're very much aware of the feedback being given. We're listening and carefully considering everything being said. Posting in this thread is not a waste of time, the feedback is being gathered and delivered. You may choose not to believe it, but we do greatly appreciate it when you take the time to give us your constructive thoughts and reactions. For those who are avoiding the insta-ban style spamming and instead are taking the time to write constructively, we thank you. For those that aren't, we hope that in the future you will come back later and with a clearer head, to provide constructive feedback when you are more able to.”
A commenter at the inn posted a link to an interview with the Battle.net project director in USA Today, published in May. There was a little quote there that made me smile:

"Do you expect any push back from diehard Blizzard fans from the Facebook features?"
"We don't anticipate any."
We’ll see in the next few days if the push back has made any impact whatsoever. I think what would really hurt them is if any of all those legislation actions that especially US players are taking now (it’s a specialty where you live, isn’t it) will become successful and appear to be leading anywyere. Maybe the lawyers at Blizzard Activision have overseen something in this deal that goes against some obscure law? I wouldn’t hope for it – it seems stupid if they haven’t looked into it closely. But you never know.

Communicating with Blizzard
Let’s move forward, looking into what we can do when this idea is implemented. One obvious thing is to change your account name into a faked name. I haven’t yet figured out if this is possible and if it will work if you’re paying with a credit card though. Has anyone else tried this?

I’ve also looked a little bit into how we can communicate with Blizzard in the future without using the official forums.

As the Blizzard representatives have said themselves: participating in the forums using our real names is optional. So let’s find new ways to come through to them.What can players who care about their privacy do to get in touch?

What I think they want us to use is the support form, which you’ll find here if you’re on a EU account an here for US. I don’t know if we can post anything but issues about our accounts and technical problems, but you could always try.

You can also call them on telephone. I’m lucky enough to live in Sweden, where it’s free, but this isn’t the case for every country, unfortunately. The waiting line can be rather long from my experience. However this is only for technical issues and account management. Here’s the phone numbers to EU and here’s for US.

It’s not as good as posting at the forum, where you often can get quick suggestions from other players, who often knows those things better than the support staff. But it’s better than nothing.

I’ve been looking for e-mail addresses to Blizzard without any great success. They do publish an address to complain-about-a-GM, but who want to do that anyway? In my experience they’re a just charming bunch of people.

However you could try to write a normal, old-fashioned letter to them. I didn’t find an address for the headquarters, but here’s the one for EU – maybe they can pass it over to the developer team in US. Here we go: Blizzard Entertainment Europe, TSA 60 001, 78143 Vélizy Villacoublay, Cedex, France

If we can’t communicate with Ghostcrawler through the forums anymore, since they put adults with concerns about their personal integrity in the same group as trolls, we can always go back to old-fashioned hand written letter writing. It’s a forgotten art, but it’s not as hard as it may seem. All you need is a pencil, a paper, an envelope and a stamp. Quite handy when you think about it. You don't even need electricity!

A final remark
I’m trying to keep my tone as civilized and constructive as I’m capable of, but I think I’ve raged and ranted enough about this for now.

Before calling it a day I just want to remind you that the real community never has been in the official forums anyway. We all know it. For a long time you’ve found the best discussions at the sites run by fans. At Tankspot, at EJ, and not the least in the abundance of great blogs and podcasts. And this won’t change because of Blizzard’s recent plans. We're needed now more than ever.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

The battle.net project director is the only person in the US with his first and last names. Look him up on dexknows.com and send him some feedback.

Ravven said...

I had hoped that with enough outcry from the community, they would reverse or at least ease up on this plan. But if this is part of a deal which has been made, then it is unlikely. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gamehunters/post/2010/05/blizzard-and-facebooks-friendly-social-networking-deal-launches-with-starcraft-ii-/1 Very distressing - as a female gamer, as someone who has written about LGBT issues, and as someone who doesn't want their game persona linked with their professional one, I worry about this a lot.

lonomonkey said...

This is really distressing. I was really pumped for Starcraft 2 and maybe retry WoW when cataclysm came out but now I don't know... I paid for SC2 so I'll play the single campaign I suppose but I'll be very wary of where they send my info. If I ever see my real name displayed somewhere I'll be out of every blizzard product within seconds. My personnal information is worth more to me than a game

Anonymous said...

I think that the most important thing people are forgetting when trying to discern Blizzard's motives is that the official forums are an INCREDIBLY SMALL portion of the total number of WoW players.

Spinks lists that the US forum thread has about 16000 posts. Most people tend to estimate that the entire US WoW population is about 5-6 million, if I recall correctly. If we make the assumption, certainly erroneous, that each post in that topic is made by a different person, a quick bit of math will show that the amount of people who've posted in that topic haven't even reached .5% of the total population.

There are legitimate issues involved, but I'm sure in some sense Blizzard takes their official forums lightly, because so few of their players use it.

Anonymous said...

I, like you, Larisa, hope that Blizzard critically examines the outcry of the community and revists this issue. The more I think about this issue, the more I think that Blizz is cutting off their nose to spite their face. In other words, in an attempt to make the forums less troll-friendly and welcoming to families, etc., they are requiring a greater degree of personal information. Unfortunately for Blizzard, I, along with many others it seem, are not willing to give up my nor my children's (they are also gamers) privacy in an effort to remove trolls from the forums.

Lastly, and perhaps the thing which scares me the most (which is a lot) is the knowledge that given Blizzard's market share of the MMORPG market and their considerable weight in the industry, can this same level of identity knowledge be far off for all online games if Blizz is succesful in this effort? To think otherwise would be short-sighted in my opinion.

SpiritusRex

Ana said...

I am not sure why quitting is preferable to simply not using the forums if it is that important. Honestly, it's their forums and not having to spend their time and resources on trolls rather than on creating more collectible pets or a new instance is a good move.

This actually seems like something game developers would prefer as they tend to want to actually work on developing rather than dealing with forum moderation and PR/marketing corporate junk.

Zekta Chan said...

This is silly, Blizzard just prohibited the usage of the official forum, for both spammer, troll and real user...

I don't expect much impact, as they'll just simply move to other place to discuss....

And lose the Advertisement in the forum for blizzard.

The only valuable thing on the forum now is the developer replies.
Without those, the forum had nothing left... Good luck blizzard :S

@brendensparks said...

The credit card payment information doesn't have to match the account information, so using a fake name for RealID obfuscation purposes is a possibility. It makes it more difficult to verify/secure the account when you don't have a photo ID to match the name. (Minors for example don't pay with their own credit cards).

Dink said...

An example of the outcome from the RealID system in the WoW forums:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l1_8wefR7c

Utakata said...

Because of that same article you linked to with the Battle.Net project director, this is likely a legal binding contract between Blizz/Activision and Facebook. Thus even with all the public outcry and account cancellations, Blizz may unlikely go back on it.

It may take the legal actions of players who are grossly affected by this, as well as aspects of Real ID found to contravine certain countrys' privacy laws and even perhaps, security issues that this may raise with players in the military...to force Blizz to "rethink" this. I am no lawyer or legal expert...so feel free for dispute this. But this is what I gather with the nature of this horrible decision.

Gronthe said...

As of this second over 23K (over 1100 pages, approaching 1200 every second)have responded, and although I have not read all of them, it seems that just about everyone dislikes the plan.

I saw one person in Canada (http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=25712374700&sid=1&pageNo=1159) file an official complaint with the Canadian Privicy Commissioner and said that their offices had received many such complaints this week already. Evidently privacy laws are strict in Canada and they already had some success in making Facebook change some of their rules.

I believe the hope on Activision's side here is that we'll all just forget about it and move on with our lives so they can do whatever they want. I've said it elsewhere and I'll say it here, if this is really an issue people are against, one post or comment here and there won't solve the issue. We'll need a long-term concerted effort against this...or people can just quit playing games associated with Battle.net.

I, for one, enjoy playing wow and would not like to stop playing, therefore I know that I will be vocal against this until a) Blizzard changes their plans or b) they implement them against the wishes of the majority of the community, at which time I'll have some serious thinking to do. Until then...

Anonymous said...

Even with 23k posts, that's still only about .6% of the estimated US WoW population. Maybe by the end of the day they'll be a less exclusive group than that which saw Sunwell when it was endgame content. Of course you might say something about the silent majority, but the silent majority is precisely whom the ReadID does not affect, since they by definition never post.

I'm not certain there is any legal trip-ups that Blizzard will get caught on easily here, since the change will not be retroactive, posting on the official forums is completely optional, and it seems you will have to agree to use your real name everytime you post.

Redbeard said...

Information -ours- is a commodity. Blizz has our information, and there are people who want it. Not the hackers and whatnot, but advertisers and their ilk. MMO players are a valuable resource, since we pay money for a service that a significant portion of people out there view as frivolous. (See: Sparkle Ponies.) MMO players have cash to burn, and companies wanting to sell it to them.

And Blizz could make a ton of money selling that information or making it public and easily accessable.

Think of the possibilities! One click from your battle.net account to Facebook to YouTube to iTunes to who-knows-where-else. Blizz is trying to integrate social networking into their games, so they can become the next Farmville.

Pardon me if I don't like that direction.

NaturalGamerGirl said...

I would love to see the statistics that Blizzard had in front of them when they made this decision. I am guessing they had some kind of report that linked how many WOW players also have Facebook accounts. But even if that percentage is high, I think it is obviously by the feedback on every fan site that this is unwanted by many gamers.

I am not opposed to the release of someone's real name IF THAT SO PERSON CHOOSES. I can understand how some people like to have an identity on the internet, and to have all of their hobbies linked. I am not one of those people.

NaturalGamerGirl said...

I also had a conspiracy-theory type thought that I posted in a bit more detail on my blog. But what if this entire charade was planned?

Blizzard releases an idea that will outrage the loyal community sometime before their new expansion. The community is indeed infuruated by this and responds in large numbers. Blizzard is being talked about on every fan site, blog, forum.... even news sites. If they do decide to withdraw this idea, it appears that they have listened to the community. In the end, they look like a shining light and have gained an incredible amount of publicity.

But now I just sound pessimistic and paranoid.
>.>

Josh said...

Another way to reach Blizzard:
their Twitter accounts. They have Twitter accounts for each of their games, and I think for the company as well. I'm not sure who monitors them, but I'd assume they have someone in-house doing it.

Hatch said...

Quoting For Great Truth:

"since they put adults with concerns about their personal integrity in the same group as trolls"

What an irony that the kind of restrained, constructive feedback you are providing here is exactly what they are driving out of their own forums, which are the only thing we've been assured that the developers actually read.

Tim Howgego said...

Outside of the WoW-obsessives' bubble, this is far from a PR disaster.

Immersionalism (separation of avatar and human selves) is misunderstood and feared by most of mainstream Western society. "Being Gandalf" in an online game tends to be seen through the prism of adopting a false identity to commit fraud. As these games integrate into wider society (that is, stop being the preserve of those weird roleplayers and geeks), it seems inevitable that only one identity will be deemed acceptable for each person.

So, in many ways Blizzard are merely ahead of the legislative curve, and entirely within the expectations of the clueless masses. (Whether they appreciate that, I'm not yet sure. This could simply be a reaction to the popularity of "social gaming". Or even a really bad attempt at forum moderation, but I don't think they are that stupid.)

What's interesting here is not the death of Gandalf, but that eventually your "real you" will be inhabiting a piece of intellectual property owned by a corporate god (throw Blue a bone). And in this case, not a terribly benevolent god.

That frames this as much more of a moral/religious argument (akin to Papal relativist paranoia), than a simple privacy argument. When I'm ready to be Excommunicated, I might write some more...

lissanna said...

I'm done with the wow forums when the change goes live. I've been a very, very active and helpful forum poster for many, many years... and with this change, I'm calling it quits on the forums and retreating to only posting my guides on my blog.

The druid forum community is looking for a new home. ;)

Kurnak said...

A bit OT, but talking about support telephon numbers, they're infringing the spanish law, where it says all companies providing a support service through phone must be done through a 900 line (free call). The 902 is paid by the caller. In my company we had to change from 902 to 900 but it's very common that big companies provide a 902 and they publish the 900 in the most hidden place. Some wikis and websites provide the real number associated with the 90X and at least it's cheaper to call the real number.
I haven't seen any companies being sued by this, but customers should stand up for their rights. EULAS have been invalidated in the past by courts, since they were considered abusive. I'm pretty sure the RealID EULA that will force our real name to appear all over the internet can be invalidated too. It's just a matter of having enough money to take Blizzard to court.

spinksville said...

Speaking of national media, the story just hit the BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/10543100.stm

Endyme said...

There are a plethora of valid reasons for people not to like this latest announcement from Blizzard. For me, it's not that I'm a girl (I am, so?) or that I have an uncommon name (so far as I can tell, none of the google results are me) or that I'd get a hard time from my work (though I don't parade around telling all and sundry I play WoW).

I don't like the lack of choice. Oh, you can not post in the forums. Yeeeah, that's a great *choice*. I don't like the use of our real names. WHY? Why must it be our real names, why not a univeral handle of our own choosing. That would prevent level 1 alts...characters for trolls to hide behind.

I'm also worried about where this will lead. Remember that battle.net was optional once, then Blizzard said "Join or you can't play any more." RealID is *optional* now, but what if down the road, Blizzard makes it mandatory to play?

Tesh said...

@NaturalGamerGirl

I had the same, terribly cynical thought. I'm not yet convinced that it's wrong.

That bothers me.

Azryu said...

Blizzard's own MVP's dont even support the change.

http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=25626049903&sid=1

Tully said...

Prediction: Signal to noise ratio of the Blizzard forums goes down even further as the posters who are net contributers of information leave because of RealID for third party sites.

Larísa said...

@Anonymous:. I'm not a friend of harassment of anyone, regardless of how ridiculous stuff they do at work. Write him an e-mail at his job and point out what is wrong if you want to. But keep his life outside of the job out if this.

@Ravven: Yeah, they seem very much into this and it's probably hard to get out of it, regardless of the reactions.

@Lonomonkey: It remains to see how many players that really will take action. I'm afraid they're in a minority. I'm not sure I'll even be prepared to quit over this myself. Sadly enough. I feel with Gnomeaggedon though.

@Anonymous 2: Yeah, I don't think the forum storm has any bigger impact. It takes bigger media and possibly legislation problems to make them listen.

@SpiritusREx: Oh dear. I've been playing with the thought to retire in LOTRO. But maybe there's no escape from this?

@Ana: I think that interacting with the community is rather essential and a reason for why they've succeeded so well so far. Locking yourself into a room, developing stuff without any dialogue with the players is a very bad idea imo. And I disagree about PR/marketing being junk, obviously, working in this area myself...

@Zekta Chan: it will be interesting to see what becomes of them. Not that there was that much to lose anyway. I tended to stick to other forums and blogs anyway.

@Brendensparks: OK. I'll have to check out on this.

@Dink: hehe. I'm not sure the consequences will be that bad... but it's amazing to see how quickly those things appear at the internet...

@Utakata: Yeah, my opinion to. Legal aspects might make them change their minds, but otherwise I'm not so sure they will.

@Gronthe: Maybe we will forget about it. I honestly don't know. But I've never been as disappointed before in the time I've played WoW. I really didn't expect this.

@Anonymous 3: It's not a huge part of the entire playerbase, but that's not a reason to completely neglect the impact it might have. Let me tell you a story. I used to work at a local newspaper. If as much as ONE reader complained about something, out of 25 000, it was considered a storm, an outrage. I'll never forget when the paper was cramped and we had to trash something and it happened to be the pages with the stock market info. ONE reader phoned the chief editor... He wasn't happy, I tell you...

I don't expect Blizzard Activision to be that sensitive. But I don't think you can dismiss the protests from the players completely either.

@Redbeard: I don't have any Facebook, I don't post stuff at Youtube or iTunes... I'm probably not that interesting to anyone.... Maybe I can talk them into making an exeption for me? :)

@NaturalGamerGirl: hm... interesting conspiracy theory. I hope it's true, because in that case they'll change their mind. You sound optimistic imo!

Larísa said...

@Josh: thanks for that idea. I don't use Twitter myself, but for those who do it, who knows, maybe it works.

@Hatch: yeah. It's ironic. As you see further down in the comments, lissanna, an acknowledge great druid info poster at the forums will now take away her services from there. Which I totally understand.

@Tim Howgego: I don't quite follow you, but it sounds intriguing! I'm looking forward to see a proper post from you about it!

@Lissanna: that's really sad, but at the same time I'm sort of glad that you're taking the step. I hope they'll get the message. I wonder if they'll end up with mostly trolling persons in their forums? It's not entirely unlikely.

@Kurnak: OK! I had no idea. I'm fortunate to get access to free telephone support where I live!

@Spinksville: That's a start.

@Endyme: I didn't belive on the slippery slope theory in this case but as it is now, nothing can surprise me anymore.

@Azryu: I don't know how many there are of those and what position they have in the eyes of Blizzard. I guess they'll notice at least.

@Tully: well, a few enthusiasts will stay. Totalbiscuit and a couple of others don't mind. But as from what I've seen from the blogosphere they can count most of us out from the forums in the future.

Avaryse said...

@Ana - "I am not sure why quitting is preferable to simply not using the forums if it is that important."

Because the only way to really make a statement about what you believe is right and wrong, when it comes to a company like Blizzard/Activision is to... 'put your money where your mouth is'. There comes a point where you can't just sit by and do nothing when you KNOW that this is just one step toward even more and more annulling of privacy in their "gaming world".

Not to be too melodramatic about it all, but first it's allowing "Friends of Friends" to see your real name in game (not to mention the security breaches via addons), then it's your real name for any and all forum browsers to see (not just WoW players - ANYONE)... So, what's next? They've already said this is just one part of a long-term goal for the Real ID initiative.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came...

Jormundgard said...

Larísa, I don't know if this still works, but you used to be able to email individual GMs with the following:

wowgm.@blizzard.com

One of them accidentally wrote me from one of these addresses instead of through the standard no-feedback client. Once or twice I've gotten a direct response from these emails, although usually they're ignored.

tanitha said...

The interesting things I see from the forum threads are:

1. The line for account cancellations has a 90 minute waiting time according to some forum denizens. If this translates to reality I don't know, but if it does it will certainly send a very scary message to Blizzard.

2. The media has picked up on it. Most gaming websites are running features on it. The BBC has run a story on it. The word is out there and from the look of it this is considered a serious breach of privacy by the laws of some countries/territories like Canada and the EU.

It is certainly going to be an interesting few days!

Inno said...

I'm not all that familiar with all the forums, but if this is the demise of the rogue forums then it's not a big loss. There may be one or two good threads there but that's about it. I think the last good rogue thread I read was from Assassinette on the EU forums. The American rogue forums pretty much tell you l2p lolz... Not really worth wasting your time on anyway. I would have to agree that the better threads/comments are from blog sites (if they don't suddenly close their doors).

Perdissa said...

I was initially very upset when I first read about this implementation. I do post on the forums on a low level alt on the tanking and hunter forums. I do so not because I want to say stupid and irresponsible things, but because I hope that what I contribute is meaningful on its own without people judging its worth on my gear. If I'm made to post on my main, I will do so willingly. Ask me to post with my real name, which my current and future employer can see? Uh.. no thanks.

I'm one of those people whom Blizzard has already taken into account, and will no longer post on the official forums. I may not matter statistically, and I accept that. I will continue to play, but I'll just accept that the official forums have closed down.

What I see to be the larger problem is one of vitality. The official forums are fun partially because there is so much junk and irreverence/ irrelevance there. There are so many people of varying experiences and intelligence posting there that there were bound to be some brilliant souls who manage to bring out excellent arguments for one thing or another on behalf on the community.

Now that the "community" will be drastically reduced, I foresee that the number of brilliant people posting will be reduced linearly, if not exponentially (assuming that many of the brilliant people may hold important occupations and would not like to be known to spend much time on gaming).

I doubt that Blizzard will change their mind on this issue, and this saddens me. But in the larger scheme of things, we're just going to have one less WOW forum to visit or post on.

River said...

I support these changes, I hope everytime I sheep a mob, it shows up on my facebook page, creating more useless network traffic, thus forcing Blizzard, and Facebook to upgrade their infrastructure.

When all the intelligent people leave WoW I will be like a god amongst the herd of morons, and I will lead them to my evil bidding.

Also I hope to one day get a job at Bioware, it's probably a really great place to work especially last couple days.

So go ahead blizz make changes, my real name is out there already, and I'm already a douchebag.

Anonymous said...

They've backed down on several occasions in response to customer backlash.

For example, the plan to zero out honor for WotLK was abandoned (instead, honor production and prices were inflated.)

Another example: the change of Alterac Valley brackets to conform to the brackets of other battlegrounds (to go from x0-x9) was reverted, probably after a lot of vanilla- or BC-capped accounts were suspended.

Will they back down here? It depends on the deal they have with Facebook. If that deal allows them to make RealID account names be gamertags rather than RL names, they could make that change and save the entire situation. Otherwise, they may be stuck between losing customers and large penalties if they break the contract.

Tully said...

New prediction: WoW-Ville, a casual MMO run through through battle.net in which players are rewarded in-game vanity items based on the number of RealID connections and participation of those connections. "Have 25 unique RealID friends feed one of your pets in WoW-Ville and earn a in-game pet!"

msp said...

There are a few problems with this whole business.

First and simplest is dealing with the immediate impact. I will no longer post on official forums for any reason. Much like I do not want potential employers turning up my family pictures, my music and my book lists, I do not want them reading my posts on video game forums. Personal is personal. Yes, I know I'm hopelessly old-fashioned.

The second problem has to do with the way Blizzard is treating our data. Information I gave them when I opened my account was meant for billing purposes. RealID didn't exist back in 2007 and I wasn't aware I am joining a "social gaming platform". So why is it suddenly OK to use my legal name for anything other than collecting monthly fees?

And the last one - if they are going to become a true social networking site, their system is absolutely inadequate. Recently Facebook came under fire for "confusing" privacy controls. Well, at least they have them. Does Blizzard? No, not really. I had to enable parental controls on my account just to disable RealID. It’s insulting. There is no way to limit what information is visible and to whom, and there is no way to delete my Warcraft account. Delete as in gone, poof, never existed. My sub is already canceled, but if I wake up tomorrow to find that we’re being given mandatory “profile” page at battle.net/users/YourRealID, fully integrated with Armory, RSS feeds and, of course, Facebook… I’ll go absolutely ballistic.

PS: I'm a long time lurker who finally decided to post - thanks for your blog. It's a joy to read. :)

Anonymous said...

Suppose Blizzard ignores the uproar and goes forward with their RealID.

A good topic for your next blog will then be: What would it take for you to drop WoW? Mandatory use of real names to create or join guilds? Legendary weapons sold via Blizzard store? Free to play? Reducing the number of available abilities and talents to cater to people who join to play for a weekend?

Yes, I am a bit bitter. Sorry for that.

Koch (Aszune) said...

On the question of changing your real name: I tried that yesterday.

The webform asks for a legal document and won't allow you to change it otherwise (certificate of marriage or namechange) - that seemed to excessive amount of information for a bloody game, so we chose to ignore than option when my wife accepted my name and I'm not going through it now.

The other option: Phone support. I want to see what their rules really are on changing names - and bothering someone on the phone is a bit more effective there than a webform. Unfortunately (and not entirely surprisingly) the phone support for both English speakers and German speakers yesterday did not accept any more people in the queue for being overly busy.

I'm not surprised, but that unfortunately stopped me for another day - or three - or 100. Who knows how long it'll take them to sort out the phone.

Dwism said...

my hope lies with Eu law
http://www.export.gov/safeharbor/eu/eg_main_018365.asp

Larísa said...

@Avarvse: I’m afraid you might see some features in game being locked away from you unless you have Real ID activated. Like the general chat channels. But we’ll see. Maybe I’m overly pessimistic. If that’s the case – the better.

@Jormundgard: Good! My experience from dealing with GMs is very, very positive. They’re serviceminded and have a great humor. Although I’m afraid they might not be able to help you if you want for instance technical support. Anyway: the more ways we have to communicate with Blizzard, the better, now that many of us don’t see the forums as an option anymore.

@Tanitha: About the 90 min line… Is that verified from somewhere? Sounds like a little bit too good to be true.

@Inno: The quality between forums vary. Lissanna has done a great job in the druid forums. She’s withdrawing now, only posting at her blog Restokin in the future.

@Perdissa: Actually there are gems in all that crap. The craziness can sometimes help things feel a bit more alive, buzzing. I don’t think everyone sees it that way though. It will be interesting to see what will happen to the forum, if the prediction turns out to be correct. But yeah, maybe the best thing you could do in this situation is to just accept that Blizzard in reality has shut down their forums, shrug at it and move on from there. There are many companies out there who don’t run forums with their customers. Maybe we’re a little bit spoiled…

@River: Hehe, last man standing?

@Anonymous: Cool. I didn’t know that they had backed before due to backlashes. I think you might be right though, that the deal with Facebook might prevent them from backing from this.

@Tully: Yep. Why not? Not my kind of game though.

@msp: /waving. Welcome out from the shadows, dear lurker - great to see you!
And yeah, if I had known the direction this would take I’d definitely made an effort to not use my real name for the account and the Real ID thing. I don’t know if it’s possible to escape, but I sure would have tried.

@Anonymous: I don’t blame you for being bitter. Somewhere there definitely will be something that takes the fun out of the game for me, making me take the step out of it. I’m not sure if this is The Thing. I don’t think so. But if they force us to use it in-game… then I’d say that’s it. I want to play an escapist fantasy game, not walking around being myself in some sort of second life world. Hopefully there will be other games that cater to players like me in the future as well.

@Koch: From the form you posted on your blog it seems rather hopeless to change your name. But please let us know if you find out something more on the telephone.

@Dwism: I’m pessimistic about the legal way tbh. After all – posting in the forums is optional and can probably be said not to be a part of the game. But we'll see soon I suppose.

tanitha said...

@Larisa -

http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=25712374700&postId=256237660728&sid=1#25298

See post 25298 in that thread. (And yeah, I can't BELIEVE I managed to find that again)

Larísa said...

Ah, now I get it! It was the telephone line. Yeah that sounds credible. I assumed it was the line for doing it online. You know like when people bought ponies and tickets for Blizzcon.

Kurnak said...

Remember I mentioned how Facebook had to hange privacy settings and this RealID should en in court? Well, Germany has already sued Facebook. Next stop: Blizzard.
http://skunkpost.com/news.sp?newsId=2760

Anonymous said...

This is exactly I was afraid of. One little step leads to another.

And before you really realize you are gone much too far.

First the optional real ID ingame, next the real name in the forum, and than?

Maybe a ingame charprofile with picture and phonenumber? No, thanks!

Don´t get me wrong. I don´t make a secret about who I am, but I don´t want that everyone knows exactly who I am (and more!) without asking me. If Blizzard push it so fare they force me to quit the game to protect myself from this.

Wait and see.

Cerenia, the tree (until cata…)

Anonymous said...

I work as an IT contractor for companies that actively monitor internet for names of their employees and contractors... Because of the job I dont have facebook/twitter/any other social network accounts (And, by now, I'm glad I don't)

Posting on the blizz forums will be a no-no and if blizz makes their game a social network, guess what happens if my name suddenly pops up?