Friday, July 9, 2010

Can the wounds be healed?

I don't know what to say. But they listened to us. The Real-Names-On-Offical-Forums-Thing has been cancelled!

My immediate reaction is of course that I'm relieved. And I suppose we should celebrate. Big time!

With a huge community effort we made them listen and change their minds. When it really matters we can influence the giant, and that is a comforting thought. We who have spoken up against this idea have all a part in this turn. Be proud!

But at the same time I'm not as excited as I'd like to be. I still feel a bit at a loss. The ting is that I lost a great deal of my trust in Blizzard during those events and I'm not sure if it ever can be restored or how long it will take.

Hatch recent post shows clearly how advertisers, not gamers, are Blizzard's real customer base today. Dechion talks in an equally heartbreaking post about how we, the players are sheep and have been for a long time. Anna has cancelled her account and I don't know if this will make her change her mind.

The wounds are deep. Even if they'll heal eventually, there are scares I think never quite will disappear.

I think a little bit of the magic with WoW is gone for me. Forever.

Nevertheless: let's celebrate tonight! We have deserved it!

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree, Larisa. I am very happy to see the change, of course- but it's a hollow victory.

You're exactly right, it's a trust issue. My trust and confidence is gone, and now I'll always be wary, always questioning, ready to fight back or cancel at a moment's notice.

Hatch's post on advertisers being the customers is depressingly insightful and almost certainly accurate. Time will tell how things shape up...

spinksville said...

*dance*

Have a good weekend! This won't be the end of it, and I don't think I'll trust Blizzard the way I used to do. But it's a win, and an awesome joint effort and I'll take it for now :)

I was surprised that so many other people felt as strongly about it as I did. And I also suspect more people will use the official forums -- you kind of feel you ought now.

Bri said...

Blizzard burned a lot of street cred these past couple of days, trust that has taken them years to accrue. It's hard to say if this episode will be quickly forgotten by the gaming collective consciousness, but one thing is for certain, they just dodged their very own NGE.

Keredria said...

I agree. While I'm happy they listened to the collective majority, there is a part of me where I don't trust that this is the end.

In his statement he says "we've decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums".

The emphasis for me there are the three words at this time. Doesn't mean they don't want this and will try again somehow in the future.

Rodolfo said...

Aww bummer I was starting to love the blog where you could post Blizz's employees and which school their children go to...

Ah well I guess I'll go back to troll my peeps on the WoW forums.

PS. That's what you get for having Warcaft owned by the French government/establishment. Once their profitability goes down we should totally launch a crowdsourced hostile takeover.

Leah said...

I look at it sort of the way I'd look at my partner cheating. or well, coming too damn close to it anywyas and backing out at the last moment. I don't have a lot of deal breakers when it comes to relationship, but cheating is one of them.

so yes, a great measure of trust is gone. but the love is still there. and them backing out shows that they still care at least somewhat, so I as as player and as a participant in our relationship am willing to work with them.

I now know that if the outcry is large enough it IS possible to change their mind (I guess they calculated their profit margin and realized that they will be losing far more then they will gain) But it would take a long time for them to earn that unconditional trust they used to have and whether they will gain it back is still under question. And one my betrayal like that will result in our relationship breaking permanently.

Blizzard might be making amazing games (think great in bed) but its not worth the rest of it. walk straight and narrow bliz. Gaining broken trust is much much harder then earning it the first time around.

Ana said...

You don't know me but I have been a reader of yours almost since the beginning. I comment infrequently and in the general scheme of things I hold basically no importance to you.

I have come to this bar for the adult tone, the generally positive take, the appreciation of the small magical things that make WoW worth playing. I am not sure if you really felt so strongly about this issue or if you got carried along with the general hysteria of the blogging community to change your tone from considered to strident, from balanced to whiny.

Like 99% of the WoW-playing community I couldn’t care less about the topic anyways. But you did. And you have won. Blizzard has listened to the vocal minority of their customer base and instead of graciously acknowledging this; you proclaim “the magic is gone” like a pouty kid refusing to back down even after the demands of his tantrums have been met. This is your bar - you can say whatever you want. But I do feel like the friendly bartender I have come to respect is now hurling beer bottles rather than trying to diffuse the tense situation.

Just as people canceled their wow accounts because they disagreed with the ReadID decision, I am removing this blog from my reader because I am disappointed by the way you have addressed this issue. So I vacate my barstool for another patron. Best of luck to you.

Kurnak said...

Even tought he community did a great noise everywhere, I still think it was more the possible legal implications (remember the link I posted in one of your previous comments about Germany suing Facebook?) what made them drop this nasty idea.
Yes, it's very important that people reacts, not only in the virtual world, when the basic rights are trampled, specially when they're trampled in the name of the money, disguised as some "benefit" for the community (really they thought this would stop trolling??!)

Jonathan said...

Mm.

Well, let me say that the answer to "can the wounds be healed?" is "only if you want them to be."

From a corporate perspective, Blizzard was *very* *very* responsive on this issue. They didn't drop this on us from out of the blue, but gave us significant notice of the change. When the community expressed it's displeasure, they responded within a very small number of business days with a change to match the feedback they were given.

Clearly, Blizzard thought this change would be a positive one. When they saw that their customers disagreed, they responded in a very timely fashion. At no point did they actually reveal any customer's real name... they floated the idea, and withdrew it. They misread the market, making a mistake. They didn't bullhead this through on us, but listened.

I'm curious. From a "trust" position, what else would you have them do? From a "responsiveness" point, what more would you like to see?

Gronthe said...

In the world of sports there was a college basketball coach named Jim Valvano, or Jimmy V for short. He died of cancer many years ago, but before he left he gave a remakable speech during what's known as the ESPY award show.

Everyone knew that he was extremely sick, and many were suprised he had the strength to get up and say anything at all. He went on for a while and said many inspirational things. But what he's most well known for are the words he spoke while facing his own death:

"Don't give up, don't ever give up."

I know the RealID issue has hurt some people, myself included. I know it has served to break the trust in Blizzard. But having the knowledge of what almost happened and what could still happen is a powerful tool that WE wield.

We may forgive, we shouldn't forget. This, I strongly believe, is a wonderful victory for the community as a whole. We should never give up fighting against features we find are a risk to our privacy and security. Holding a grudge, in this case, can end up being a very good thing if used properly. Blizzard still does have a few smart people left, I'm sure they'll devise ways to limit trolling on their forums in other, less offensive ways.

I'm with you...let's celebrate tonight indeed!

Larísa said...

@Anonymous: Yeah, it opened my eyes really!

@Spinksville: I think they hit a nerve - the relation between our real selves and the avatars. That's why the reaction was so strong. It's not only about internet security.

@Bri: I think they did.

@Keredria: yeah "this time" is no guarantee for the future.

@Rodolfo: I never quite liked the idea of stalking Blizzard employees, so I hope they'll shut it down.

@Leah: Yeah, they'll have to work for it.

@Ana: I recognize your name very well and you've been an appreciated customer. Yes, as I think you've seen from my posting the last few days I felt very strong about this matter and I still do. I strive after keeping a civilized tone at the inn always and I don't think I've crossed the line with this post either. But we all put the line in different places and yours is somewhere else. Which I respect. Thanks for this time and I hope you'll find a bar that serves the kind of posts you prefer. I don't take any offence about your criticism. Seriously. I write this for the joy of writing and those who like what I write are welcome to share. Anyway. Take care! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

It bothers me a lot as well, that so many now are like "I've lost a lot of trust in Blizzard because of this!" when they've made the decision in your favor. Consider that this had to go all the way up to Mike Morhaime before the decision could be reversed, that the changes to battle.net would have all affected Blizzard games, not just WoW, and the deal with Facebook, and clearly this is not a corporate decision that could be done on a whim.

And the "at this time" issue? It's just an admittance that sometimes Blizzard changes its mind; even if you've forgotten about PvE->PvP transfers or faction/race changes, the announcement itself is proof that Blizzard changes its mind. It may be a good idea someday to use real names on the forums, or it may never be a good idea, but Blizzard can't see the future any more than we can.

Larísa said...

@Kurnak: it's possible that it was a combination of reasons. We'll probably never know what was the crucial point.

@Jonathan: I think the distrust has to do with the Facebook-integration and the declared ambition to work more on the lines of becoming a social platform. It makes at least me feel as if they're drifting away from the idea about first of all offering a virtual world, an MMO and a game. As I wrote in my first post about this I still cant comprehend why they did so poor market serach in this issue. "Testing" an idea on the entire player base is really not brilliant. But I think they handled it well now, backing so quickly and letting MM bring the news. That was from the schoolbook.

I think the faith that has been lost is the social-network-idea. They have to be extremely vary and careful when they tredge that path again.

@Gronthe: Yeha, I think too that this has strenghtened the community.

@Anonymous: yeah, you're right. As a PR person myself I know that you should be careful not to lock yourself into statements about the future. I understand why the added "this time". You have a point.

Anonymous said...

Open Letter to Mike Morhaime

You Sir have made a grave error.

I was a very happy Blizzard customer. I bought Warcraft III, Diablo, Diablo 2, World of Warcraft, Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. I have played WoW with a family member for 2 years on 2 accounts and purchased one very sparkly pony. I was even going to buy Starcraft II just to show my support of Blizzard’s quality game crafting.

NOT ANYMORE

I will not buy Starcraft II. I may not even buy Cataclysm.

Why?

Because you want my Real Name… you and the corporate masters you serve want it BADLY.

You see Blizzard and it’s customers have a curious relationship. At the core it’s based on trust, guaranteed by a monthly subscription fee. The trust that as long as the loss of a customer subscription fee is a cost greater than providing a game that customers demand to play, We all get along with a mutually beneficial transaction.

Battle.Net and RealID changes all that and we are not stupid Mr. Morhaine. With the promise of gazillions of users giving up privacy for “free play” all able to be monetized and herded into cheap games with “social network” features. The subscription fee guarantee of good behavior goes away.

What happens when the revenue that Blizzard/Actievil yields from my subscription is LESS than monetization of my “social network enabled marketing”? Er… you get pinheaded Real Names on forums type ideas Mr. Morhaine that is what you get. And we are a far from a stupid player base Mr. Morhaine.

In your latest missive you state,
“I want to make sure it's clear that our plans for the forums are completely separate from our plans for the optional in-game Real ID system now live with World of Warcraft and launching soon with StarCraft II. We believe that the powerful communications functionality enabled by Real ID, such as cross-game and cross-realm chat, make Battle.net a great place for players to stay connected to real-life friends and family while playing Blizzard games.”

CORPORATE TRANSLATION: Blizzard/Atievil is still committed to monetizing Customers in Social Network type ways.

STOCK ANALYST TRANSLATION: No change boys we are still trying to get out of the high cost, high risk “game programming” and get our growth and P/E comparable with Facebook!

WOW PLAYER TRANSLATION: “Good News Everyone the Slime is Flowing Again!”

At what point did you sell your soul… and did you even feel it?


Sincerely Angry Customer

future Angry Jedi Master

Anonymous said...

Larisa,

Long time lurker. Love the blog and your comments..

and thanks for allowing anonymous postings of an Angry Customer ;)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Open Letter to Mike Morhaime

You Sir have made a grave error.

etc etc

I completely second every word of that post. I have cancelled both Warcraft accounts. I will not buy SCII, Cataclysm, DIII or any other Actiblizz games. When you make it clear that my name is worth more to you than my subscription, you will get neither.

NaturalGamerGirl said...

Great comments here! :)

My trust in Blizzard has also been damaged. For me, there are 2 major issues that still fester, even though my Real ID is now again safe.

1. I am still not sure whether there REALLY is a struggle between Blizzard and Activision, or whether they are careful on how they announce major changes in order to play up that Blizzard is looking out for us gamers. Kind of like having a planned scapegoat and white knight.

2. I feel like they lied to my face. Half of the reason why I was pissed at this announcement was because they claimed it was to 'clean up the forums'. I think many people felt this was the most bullshit excuse ever. Even in Mike Morhaime's announcement, he referenced that they were trying to do US a favor. Come on.... you are telling me that this idea was NOT presented for financial reasons?! You are in the hole, just stop digging further.

Ratshag said...

The barbolians was at the gates, waving the Banner Of Really Stupid Idea, and we drove'em off. Will they come back? Mebbes. And if they does, we will gird our loins and drive'em off again.

Tonight, though, is time fer celebratings. 'Scuse me while I ungirds me loins here.

Ysharros said...

That was a pretty big breach of trust. Since I'm not a big fan of megacorporations (or mega-anything for that matter, except maybe mega-plate-of-fried-calamari), I'm certainly not going to return to gambolling in the field with them. Not that I ever did in the first place. ;)

It does feel empowering to know that public opinion *did* make a difference though, -- whether it was account cancellations, blogging (unlikely, in all objectivity), or the big media outlet coverage like the Beeb (more likely).

If something bothers you and you DON'T speak out, even if you don't really think you can make a difference, you've only got yourself to blame.

Gevlon said...

For some reason I'm not in a romantic mood. I think they planned it all along. They made Battle.net mandatory and also introduced RealID with friend of friend.

It's bad enough alone. So they made something worse and backed off. It's like when a guy wants 20$, he asks for 30 and bargain at 20

Stabs said...

It's great news and well done to everyone who opposed it.

(And a big LOL NOOB to people who supported it).

Of course it has done damage. Personally I asked them to remove all of my personal data from their records. I intend to follow up that request with a letter to the Data Protection Office here in the UK to ask them to make sure this has been done.

I will play Blizzard games again but not with my real name or my usual e-mail on the account. And I'll be rather careful of addons and such.

SpiritusRex said...

I have a different take on this one than you Larisa. I think, if anything, it restores my trust in Blizzard. Now, truth be told the way the whole thing was handled was very ham-handed and I would suspect that somebody's employee file got a scathing memo placed into it. However, the community flexed its collective muscle and showed Blizz that this is definitely not a one way street - I mean, for crying out loud, various national media were reporting on this. I think this has sent a clear and convincing message to the management at Blizz (and more importantly, the Activision side of things):

DON'T GAME WITH GAMERS! We haz uber leet skillz, you know?

GAMING COMMUNITY FTW!!!!

Cheers, will definitely enjoy the single malt tonight!

Utakata said...

I too agree, Larísa-san. While I am elated and joyed by the prospects of Blizz backtracking on a horrible idea...I still feel my trust in the company has been perhaps irreversibly damaged. Real ID and problems with it are still there. And they're still planning on "expanding" it in some other ways.

Even worst, many who have quit over this...may not be coming back at all. As my best friend for example who stated to me today, "I don't want to think about Blizz anymore." This was a hardcore raider with 14 toons at 80 and has played WoW religiously since it's release and a veteran Diablo II player. The damage has been done. The clean-up of this unnecessary hurricane may take years to fix. :(

As for myself, I was going to let my account expire indefinetly this month (I been playing steadily and extensively for 5 years uninterrupted). Now that the decison on Real ID for Forums has been reveresed, I am keeping my account active...but on prohbation incase Blizz decides to do something stupid again. Then I'll likely be gone for good.

But to reiterate...my faith in Blizzard in making sound decisions has been shattered. Only time will tell if that ever get's healed. :(

SpiritusRex said...

I have a different take on this one than you Larisa. I think, if anything, it restores my trust in Blizzard. Now, truth be told the way the whole thing was handled was very ham-handed and I would suspect that somebody's employee file got a scathing memo placed into it. However, the community flexed its collective muscle and showed Blizz that this is definitely not a one way street - I mean, for crying out loud, various national media were reporting on this. I think this has sent a clear and convincing message to the management at Blizz (and more importantly, the Activision side of things):

DON'T GAME WITH GAMERS! We haz uber leet skillz, you know?

Cheers, I will definitely enjoy the single malt tonight!

Spiritusrex said...

Double post, I fail! Overly exuberant I gues

Bear Chat said...

What a perfect gift for a Friday.

I agree with what has been said and I'm glad we have all first hand seen the power in numbers.

Even with the people threatening the sky is falling and huge number of subscription cancellations threats. I think Blizzard looks past those and instead focused on the well thought out pleads and logical discussion a lot of people across the blogosphere and forums official and not over the past couple of days.

Everyone deserves a pat on the back!

/cast Dire Bear Form
/dance

Joar said...

I agree with some of the other commenters that mentioned that the decision to backtrack on this has helped improve my trust in Blizzard a little it. This wasn't something they actually implemented - just a trial balloon that they floated. When the community almost unanimously shouted them down and pointed out some of the risks and possible exposures with their plans, they withdrew the plan.

At the end of the day, I think they really did view this as something that people would enjoy and appreciate - a way to link their social media with their games, providing a link between WoW and other things that people enjoy - while also hopefully eliminating some of the trolling on the forums. Clearly they judged wrong on this.

Of course, probably the easiest way to get this to work and realize their hopes of monetizing the relationship with Facebook a bit would be to change things on the Facebook side - allow people to set up Facebook accounts using an in-game name / avatar.

Talarian said...

The victory may be shortlived, as they are still planning to tie a lot of battle.net functionality (and consequently forums) to RealID, as per Mike Morhaime's letter. As long as this functionality is truly optional (and not posting on the forums is not a real option when you require technical support), I will still have few qualms about it. But I'm still keeping a close eye on Blizzard, even after reactivating my account.

@Jonathon
I agree with you that from the PR perspective it was pretty well handled, advance notice, by the books reply from the head honcho repealing it, etc. I think where the trust thing is concerned is that this sort of thing shouldn't have been floated in the first place. To those of us who are worried about our PII floating about on the internet, it shows that Blizzard doesn't understand us as an audience, and there's no guarentee that they'll not make a similar mistake in the future, THAT'S the trust that's gone.

Liore said...

Hi Larisa,

I was actually really impressed with the way you handled the RealID fiasco here. I ended up posting a stream of vitriol and spite when it was first announced, but you remained calm, polite, and determined. Good on you.

I also feel that Blizzard will have to earn my trust again, although I have resubscribed to the game. I have, however, switched to using game cards as payment, and removed all the personal information I can from my account. While I am glad that this decision was reversed, someone SOMEWHERE still thought that this could be pushed through without the tiniest bit of feedback from the community, and that worries me greatly.

While my guild will no longer be closing its doors to WoW immediately, I think we are all looking to the horizon to see what game is "next", and we will move there quicker than we would have if this had never happened.

Larísa said...

@Sincerely Angry Customer, future Angry Jedi Master: Thanks for the love! I'm not quite that angry right now, mostly glad because they listened and I hope we can come back to the relationship we used to have. But I can at the same time understand and sympathize with your worries.

@Anonymous: I think I'll be in Cataclysm. But you never know for sure. It depends a bit on how things evolve with my guild among other stuff. Before they did this announcement I was honestly thinking about writing a "I might actually quit" post. Not to threaten, but because that was how I felt about it.

@NAturalGamerGirl: oh, don't be so harsh on the PR people... I feel sorry for my collegues. They're just doing whatever they can in the terms of damage control. It's not exactly lies... but you might say they choose which angle they want to present... :)

@Ratshag: Barbolians? I feel more as if I've downed a badass big dragon right now. It's definitely got the flavor of a boss kill. God, I AM spoiled in my brain from too much gaming, probably, making those associations.

@Ysharros: I think it matters to speak up. I wrote in the 14 000 posts long thread in the EU forums. They seemed to read it and I felt that every voice mattered.

@Gevlon: Hm... I like a good conspiracy theory. Others suggest that it's just a huge marketing event to get attention for Cataclysm. But to be honest I think it's neither in this case. Just a really stupid idea that slipped through the system and went too far.

@STabs: I still wonder if I somehow can change my real name in my Battlenet account. It would feel good to do it but it appears as if I can't. I refuse to call the supporters of this idea for noobs however. We had certainly different opinions, but everyone is entitled to think for himself and speak up and be respected for this.

@Spiritus Rex: Hehe! I'll keep my more sinister thoughts on this away at least for now. Gaming community ftw! I'll gladly let you double post it because it's worth saying!

@Utakata: I understand your pain. It's not entirely rational I think. It's emotional stuff. Because that's how we work. We build up relations with a brand, like it or not. If I keep playing in Cata and it turns out to be awesomeness and they slow down on the social network engineering confidence might be restored. But I sure hope they'll improve their communication with the community. As I've said earlier, their website has a lot of potential for improvement...

@Bear Chat: Make place for the dancing beer, ladies and gentlemen!
/clap hands
/tap feet

@Joar: hm... yeah maybe they'll find to do something like that. Let the avatars invade real life/Facebook rather than the opposite. Reversed roles...
hm.. starts pondering!

Larísa said...

@Talarian: yeah, a good reply to Jonothan. I think that's where the lost trust lies. We don't know if they really understand their audience anymore.

@Liore: thank you! I'm glad I appeared calm. I certainly didn't feel it. I've been very depressed this week. But some of my thoughts, I've only shared with other bloggers in e-mails, sparing my readers the pain.

About the trust issues: yeah. It was an awakening... that there ARE alternatives out there. Maybe a GOOD awakening in one sense. I might have been a little bit too sparkle-eyed and naïve in the way I've looked at Blizzard until now.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

I've been thinking a great deal about RealID, and all the research I did, and all the articles I read, led me to a conclusion... RealID will stay, and it will grow.

As I said before, no the amount of people who cancelled accounts is a penny per $10 dollars that Blizzard/Acivision makes per month. I wouldn't miss a penny, and neither would anyone here.

Instead, this will go through, the facebook integration will occur, always as an option (since not everyone uses facebook), maybe later a twitter integration, and so on and so forth.

As scary as this is, as much as gamers don't want their games to mix with their social networks, it will happen.

It will be hard at first, weird even, but as this progresses, so does facebook, twitter, and google's attempts to be your identity online.

Before we realize it, our online identity will be the same as our real life identity, and we the gaming generation, will be the people in charge. I know looking ahead, that it is 20+ years before that happens, but it is happening.

At that point, being a gamer, or a WoW player, or anything like that will be the same as being a golfer.

That of course is the hopeful perspective in all this.

Blizzard/Activisions move in this was correct, but, they did it much too soon. Its hard to hit the perfect moment of opportunity and ability.

Though I'm still doubtful of their games, for now, I'll wait. I've spent over 20 years not playing Diablo 3 or Cataclysm, and I can go the rest of my life without it.

Anonymous said...

I think truly that Blizzard thought this was a great idea and that's why they tried to implement this, and most people have overreacted to the idea by not quite understanding everything about the idea.

For example, your real name would have been shown when you post, but not necessarily your character. So when Jane Smith makes a post, it wouldn't have shown her character "GenericDK," it would have shown just "Jane Smith." So people's fears of, say, a person snapping in-game after being ganked for too long and finding the person in real-life because their name is on the forums is not as likely as they seem to think.

[Of course, being able to show your character is optional, because obviously you don't want people pretending to be characters they aren't in-game. Being able to show a specific character is a way to have people go "Prove you are who you say you are."]

Now there are people for whom having their real name on the internet is unacceptable, period, and I'm not trying to downplay any legitimate issues people had.

But there are people who can't seem to understand at all why Blizzard thought this was a good idea, and I think the truth is that most of these people simply don't understand what Blizzard was hoping to accomplish.

[Of course, there's an underlying subtlety in this post where it kinda sounds like I know for certain what Blizzard was hoping for, so I want to say that I don't know what Blizzard was actually hoping for, but I can at least see how they thought might have been a good idea, which means I can believe that Blizzard was just simply wrong in this case, as opposed to being unintelligent or outright lying to us about it.]

Tesh said...

How curious. I find myself agreeing with Gevlon.

Also, this isn't just some random stupid idea that slipped through. Blizzard themselves claimed to have been working on this for a long time. Something this monumentally stupid shouldn't get past the brainstorm phase. That it did either speaks to Blizzard's gross incompetence (even criminal) or flat out arrogance.

This isn't over.

Ungird the loins, perhaps (thanks for that mental image, Ratshag, ya goof), but keep your powder dry and your eyes open.

They are not to be trusted, they have made that clear.

River said...

I agree this isn't over by a long shot, and we won nothing.

I've don't think Blizzard would come to this decision without thinking alot about it. Even the language of the apology post had language in there that was shady.

Tesh said...

They didn't apologize, they just changed policy. They have shown no contrition, nor have they admitted that it was a bad idea.

This was a purely reactive short term move, not a change of plans.

Bristal said...

Was this all really just about Forum posting? I've never even read an official WoW Forum. Mostly because the blogophere says it's worthless.

And now we're happy that we get to keep posting anonymously?

What about all the other stuff? RealID in-game that is being shoved down our throats? Weird gamer-folk harrassing us endlessly and trying to eat our brains?
Bosses finding out we're one of the MILLIONS of people playing video games and firing us?

It's true, video games do decrease attention span.

Oh look, a squirrel.

Saithir said...

And I guess I'll be the bad guy again. ;)

This comment of mine is mostly aimed @Pangoria, 'cause her comment is the best one here of all on this topic. ;)

It's a trust issue yes, but! Only if you're a fan of Blizzard. I am a fan of WoW, I like Starcraft and Diablo. I prefer them to Blizzard itself, though. That's why I'm going to play all these games if they prove good enough and fullfill my expectations.

I might choose not to - in fact I wasn't interested in Starcraft 2 at all until I've got into the beta and found that it's pretty fun - but it will be a decision based on the games themselves, not on the company that makes them.

I might not like, let's say, Firaxis, because of what they did to the Civilization series with the console version of Civ Revolution - and because they don't want to make a sequel to Alpha Centauri, which was their best game ever. Does it means that I shouldn't buy Civ 5 when it comes out, even though it looks like a Civ 4, only better? I didn't like Civ Revolution, so I didn't buy it, and that's enough.

And yeah, you're absolutely right in the rest of your comment - RealID is here to stay wheter we like it or not. I really like what you're predicting here.

iKill said...

It's true that RealID ingame is here to stay, but ingame you can opt out of it through the Parental Controls interface. I did so today, and I will continue to do so unless it changes severely. I don't think this functionality will be removed either in the future.

It's not so much a victory over Blizzard as a victory over corporates that make me happy. There has been talks and rumors about corporates aiming for a non-anonymous internet for a long time, and that worries me. I know (don't we all?) that as soon as one big company goes through with such a system, more will follow. This is why we need to stand up and deny it every time someone suggests this, like we have done when Blizzard did it. We need to fight this notion of privacy decimation on the internet.

Larisa, good points. I like your view on the matter. :)

Jrichard said...

I see no reason to celebrate. The plans to implement realID and facebook integration haven't changed. The forums were never the issue here. This whole episode, however, made them the issue and now lots of people on the forums are praising blizzard for being "for the players". Yet targeted marketing from your information being sold will go forward as planned.

SC2 will see the ads from the get-go. Wow? I wouldn't expect them in game anytime soon, but I'd expect them in the launcher, logon, character selection, and loading screens with cata (isn't it handy that the game finally got such a great dungeon finder tool and the average user is seeing a TON more loading screens now as compared to a year ago?).

By pooling our user information with the list of likes, friends, and friends' likes from facebook the ad revenue pays better due to the targeting. SC2 has that integration at release. Blizz just needed a player base willing to use it. Go read the official forums and you'll see all kinds of people thankful and saying they can live with the facebook integration as long as the real names on the forums plan doesn't go live.

Kinda feels like we, the players, have just thanked a guy for only breaking our finger instead of our arm like he had said he would.

Activision doesn't care about our trust levels. While i'd agree that kotick and company understand very little about gamers, they do understand one thing very well. Gamers might react to something that will affect them personally in the near future, but they don't stay cohesive about anything just on principle. Check the sales numbers on modern warfare 2. What Kotick did to infinity ward is disgusting and yet it sure hasn't hurt activision's profits.

I mean no offense, it's just an observation, but Saithir's post pretty much shows what i'm saying. Kotick understands this thing about gamers very well.

I love the game and i honestly believe the developers at blizz still have us and the games at heart. GC crew are, in my opinion, in the process of putting out a fantastic expansion. If you're not in the beta, go check out some screens and videos from it. They are pulling more from an aging engine than most companies get from a brand new one.

Possibly the upper management at Blizz and most definitely Kotick's people are the problem here and sadly for most of us what they do won't have enough of an immediate effect on us personally to actually unite and do anything to stop it.

We can celebrate this "victory" all we want, but personally i'd say there is no joy in Mudville. Activision's m.o. of wringing every drop of money from a franchise and leaving behind the husk of both it and the studio who created it will continue. The WoW commercial would be fitting if it were to feature Angus Scrimm's tall man character

Dallanna said...

Hello, larisa.

I'm more with you, but it also proves a rather disappointing fact.

The Blizzard of years past, where they took extra time to fine polish a game (in some cases canceling it because it wasn't up to snuff) has been a victim of its own success.

And as a result, the Blizzard which made WoW all those years ago is no more. It doesn't answer to the people that made it great back then; the gamers. Now, because of its success, it answers to the Shareholders.

Jrichard said...

I see no reason to celebrate. The plans to implement realID and facebook integration haven't changed. The forums were never the issue here. This whole episode, however, made them the issue and now lots of people on the forums are praising blizzard for being "for the players". Yet targeted marketing from your information being sold will go forward as planned.

SC2 will see the ads from the get-go. Wow? I wouldn't expect them in game anytime soon, but I'd expect them in the launcher, logon, character selection, and loading screens with cata (isn't is handy that the game finally got such a great dungeon finder tool and the average user is seeing a TON more loading screens now as compared to a year ago?).

Go read the official forums and you'll see all kinds of people thankful and saying they can live with the facebook integration as long as the real names on the forums plan doesn't go live.

Kinda feels like we, as the players, have just thanked a guy for only breaking our finger instead of our arm like he had said he would.

Activision doesn't care about our trust levels. While I'd agree that Kotick and company understand very little about gamers, they do understand one thing very well. Gamers might react to something that will affect them personally in the near future, but they don't stay cohesive about anything just on principle. Check the sales numbers on modern warfare 2. What Kotick did to infinity ward is disgusting and yet it sure hasn't hurt activision's profits.

I mean no offense, it's just an observation, but Saithir's post pretty much shows what I'm saying. Kotick understands this thing about gamers very well.

Possibly the upper management at Blizz and most definitely Kotick's people are the problem here and sadly for most of us what they do won't have enough of an immediate effect on us personally to actually unite and do anything to stop it.

Celebrate? I'd say there is no joy in Mudville as the player-base fell for and swung at the curve ball.

jrichard said...

sorry for the double post. :(

Jenny said...

isn't it awesome? my husband wanted me to stop playing due to the real-name thing but this makes it all better :D

Anonymous said...

Yeah I can see it now in a meeting on Monday morning.
----------------------------------------------------
Facebook Rep:"gee none of our sheep/users bleated about this on FB".

Blizzard Old Hand: "Yeah that's because they are a bunch of kids with no income".

Facebook Rep:"Dang it we need the Facebook plan to work here. We need this demographic".

Blizzard Old Hand: "By the way why do you need us? You are Facebook".

Facebook Rep:"Well our sheep/users don't actually buy that much we need more penetration in the 26-49 demographic and they don't play Yoville".

Blizzard Old Hand: "Gee might be a bit difficult to get smart users to go for this".

Facebook Rep: "Well it's NOW YOUR JOB TO MAKE THEM WANT TO".



AND WE ARE PAYING BLIZZARD FOR THeM TO DO THIS TO US????

Future Angry Jedi

AND WE ARE PAYING BLIZZARD FOR THeM TO DO THIS TO US????

msp said...

We still don't have control over our own personal information. RealID is still here, unchanged. Facebook integration is proceeding as planned. Personal data Blizzard collected years ago for "billing purposes" is being shared with Massive and Facebook. Don't like it? Delete account. There are still no real privacy controls anywhere in sight. There is still a very real possibility that some form of participation in their new "social gaming platform" will be required to play World of Warcraft. We won only the first round, if we won anything at all.

I'll give Blizzard credit, though. Their sudden change of heart was a pleasant surprise. It's all pure conjecture, but I have a feeling a pitched boardroom battle was fought and won on our behalf. My plans to delete my account are on hold... at this time.

Copra said...

Sadly -like Pangoria explained- we WoW players may have won a battle, but not the war. The plans of social media integration have been put into motion way back when WotLK was on the drawing board, if not even earlier, and this was just a minor setback to Blizz people. They'll do it more stealthily next time, or with more compelling incentives.

Sad as it is, I think all of us who are loving the game should start giving it up and find a new home. WoW as we currently know it -or even after the Cataclysmic changes- ceases to exist in a couple of years with these social integration plans anyhow.

RealID will be the WoW killer we have seeked from other games.

C out

Larísa said...

@Pangoria Fallstar: I think you're spot on. This will happen. They were too early with the forums, but it's still happening. I'm not sure I'll be a part of it though. I'm a gamer (Spinksville made me realize this :)) but not a social networker in that sense. However when the twitter and facebook generation is governing the world, the integration will be everywhere by default.

@Anonymous: I think it was way easier for those called Jane Smith to accept this than for people with a one-on-planet-Earth-name, like I have. Anyway: yeah, I don't think if Blizzard as an evil fiend in a James Bond movie. There was surely people there who were enthusiastic about this, but didn't quite understand the needs and wishes of the community. Bad communications imo. They should have tested the idea in a smaller setting.

@Tesh: No, it isn't over. But right now I'm too exhausted to think much more about it. It wears me down to be so sad as I've been this week.

@River: I agree that there's more to think about in the Facebook Real ID thing, but I still think that this change of plans was a Big Thing. I definitely wasn't sure they would come to this conclusion to begin with, even though it leaned more and more towards it, when international media started to write about it and people actually began cancelling.

@Bristal: No, it was not only about forum posting. It was a slippery slope though and we've put up a limit and said: "here, but not any longer". Bosses finding out we're playing a game was a real issue when our names would be out there, possible to be found by a google search, connected to an MMO game. Now this won't happen and I'm honestly relieved about it.

@Saithir: Actually you have a point about being a fan of Blizzard or being a fan of WoW. I'm a fan of WoW and I've been in love with Blizzard for this (now this love is... well... let's move on.) This doesn't mean though that I wan't to play Starcraft. I don't care who did this game. I care about the game itself. I'm testing LOTRO now. If you ask me I have no idea what company has made it without looking it up.

@iKill: Yeah, somehow the fact that MM himself wrote this letter - and above all a few small blue comments I've seen over this - takes away a bit of the feeling of the big anonymous company that you can't affect at all. I know it might be a bit of an illusion. But it's a nice one.

Larísa said...

@Jrichard: I don't know what to say. I share your concerns to be honest. But there's only room for so much of worrying about stuff in the brain of this little gnome. Eventually I can't carry the burden of the entire world on my shoulders. Eventually I'll just slip back into the game and go back to killing dragons. Because that's what gamers do. Escape.

@Dallann: I think there are still gamers within the company, although not every employee is one. Sometimes it shines through the blue posts.

@Jenny: Oh, he probably just used it as an excuse... He'll come up with some other I'm sure. Simplified talent trees? RAGE! Quit now!

@Anonymous: I think you're onto something there about the demographics.The 26-49:ers are hard to convince about this... They'll have to bide their time.

@msp: I can't help wondering about that too. How the inside talk went. I'm pretty sure there must have been voiced raised against this. Some advocators of this say that it's just a vocal minority protesting but I disagree about this. I threw out a question about it in my guild and I didn't hear a single voice saying it was anything but a stupid idea. I don't think the Blizzard employees were burning with enthusiasm for this either.

You're right though that this isn't the end.

@Copra: Yeah, I think they'll have to think twice before taking the next step, making it more attractive, not stirring up this thing again. But they'll be back. The change of the idea of mmo-gaming is already there.

I doubt that Real ID will be the WoW killer though. I really doubt it. I'm pretty convinced Wow will die out eventually - in a far distant future - out of ageing and some other games - including Blizzards next generation game - taking over.

mindspikeblog said...

The challenge through all of this is trust and privacy!

I've always trusted Blizzard to make excellent game design choices. I haven't always trusted them to make my friends for me, or handle my private information. I guess, from the outcry, I'm not alone.

Masaya said...

Even if it's a tarnished victory due to the loss of trust with Blizzard. We still dodged a huge fire. The thing now is that we got to continue keeping our eyes open so they don't try it again.

Mymosa said...

I agree! Thinning out the trolls on the forums is something that seriously needs to be done, but adding real life information to the forums was very extreme.

I can just see news headlines now..

"World of Warcraft 'Ninja Looter' brutally murdered after stealing epic boots from another player."

The forums are such a mess right now though. Trolling is out of hand and very rarely does anyone get any real help or advice. People are too elitist and trolling is just getting more and more brutal.

Yay Blizzard for actually thinking something through before implementing it! :D

Anonymous said...

"World of Warcraft 'Ninja Looter' brutally murdered after stealing epic boots from another player."

See, this is exactly what I was talking about earlier, about people not quite understanding Blizzard's plans. The linking of your character to your real name on forums would have been optional, so it was more likely to be something like

"World of Warcraft player assaulted over disagreement on forums."

or even

"Woman assaulted; culprit claims to have picked out her name from World of Warcraft forums."

[I deliberately chose "Jane Smith" earlier to ensure that I was using as a fake a name as possible.]

Vigorless Fragmentary said...

I am really glad they have reconsidered this, it would have meant the end of WoW for me if blizz had gone through with the real ID stuff.

however, I think it shows one thing once again and that's why its good this happened: blizzard is a company and by now, one with a huge partner that doesn't care about they way the game is going as long as its profitable. they arent on their own anymore and let's face it, wow IS business. the fanbase isnt prio nr. 1 and hasnt been for a long time - yes they may have 'listened' to the outcries now but ONLY for fear of retaliation in form of losing customers. I hope nobody is deceiving himself there and if real ID shattered some pink glasses, the better.
I've had a 'bad feeling' ever since the Activision merge.

Mymosa said...

@anon-

My headline quote was a totally random, exaggerated thing i thought of quickly.

i didn't misunderstand Blizz's intentions & I agree that something needs to be done to help moderate flaming/trolling/harassment. RealID would be just putting out a little too much information for most people to feel comfortable with.

I personally wouldn't mind the change, considering I stay far, far away from the forum community because it is so awful.

Anonymous said...

@Mymosa

Sorry for singling you out. I picked that headline because it more or less was a perfect of what I had been talking about earlier, that with all of the commotion going on, people had an imperfect understanding of what Blizzard was doing.

Mymosa said...

@anon-
No worries. I wasn't offended, just wanted to clarify my statement a little bit. :]

I do think most people jumped the gun & joined in the QQ storm before really taking the time to try to understand where Blizz is coming from.

There is a problem and they are trying to address it. I give them credit for caring at least a little bit.

What's my main again? said...

You know... there is another side of this whole argument. The supporters merging realID type thing with Facebook. There are a lot of people who have facebook, play wow, and use the wow armory plugins so that it displays details of their toon's activity.

I'm not one of these people. My wife is though and I can see why wow and facebook would think it would be a good idea to give those players more access to combining 2 of their favorite things.

For the rest of us... I don't see it being somehow "mandatory". I don't see Blizzard merging our battlenet accounts with a facebook account... but is it so wrong to give the people who want these features access? Now I do agree that the displaying of a real name on the forums is unsettling... and I think Blizzard legitimately thought that this would be a good way to improve the forums while also creating more tools for those who want to combine wow with their social life.

I fully expect this to continue on... but in a way that divides the community in half. Those that want wow to be a big part of their social life/circle and those that want to remain anonymous. There is room in wow for both Blizzard just needs to provide more options for both parties.

Anonymous said...

I cancelled my SC2special edition order in the midst of the RealID smackdown. I didn't re-open it after they backed down.

I'm disappointed that instead of the community getting to celebrate being heard, those of us who did campaign against it via blogs, twitter, and Activision shareholder relations, are now being hit with smug comments from those who didn't care, who self-proclaimed their views as the silent majority, telling us we should be embarrassed now that Blizz has backed down. That this was their plan all along. That we are a bunch of whiny morons.

Somehow I missed the point where this became A Brave New world. And the WoW community is not the same for me now, after seeing the unrelenting personal attacks many of those who stood up and protested RealID have taken from other community members. Yes, those people may not have been our friends, but I thought they at least had collegial relations with those they voluntarily chose to follow and interact with online.

Leaving this anonymous b/c I am tired from the past week of battling with the mean people and the conspiracy theories.

Taemojitsu said...

From your 29 June blog post, "Re: WoW is dying". 08 April, 2007.

"Time to bring up a few points that kept WoW from being a perfect community mechanism.
[...]
Badly implemented forums. These forums are pure crap. They improved over time but they are still crap. The possibility to stay anonymous on them destroy a big part of the community spirit . . ."


It is a contradiction that you can choose to resolve or not to resolve.

Larísa said...

@Mindspikeblog: I wish they'd stick to making games, but I'm afraid the development is heading somewhere else. I don't think there's any way we can stop the evolution where mmo's and social network platforms mess up. The forum thing is stopped but the rest is happening either we like it or not. You can opt out from much of it so far... but it will change the game community imo.
Like Spinks wrote the other day... we might be heading from a situation where you go to an mmo, play it and make friends there to that you enter the mmo with your friends-list already in place,. Tough luck for the one who doesn't have that network..

@Masaya: Yeah, I think it was an awakening. At least for me.

@Mymosa: & Anynomous: I think you sorted that out between yourself. Makes a comment moderator happy! Self regulation... Maybe something to try at the official wow forums... :)

@ Vigorless Fragmentary:

I've thought more about this and I think there is a difference between how we trust some of the staff at Blizzard and how we trust the direction they're taking with the Activision management. I'll talk a bit more about it in my upcoming post.

@What's my main again?: yeah, you're probably right about this. I tend to miss to see it from their side since I don't use either Facebook or Twitter. There might be room for two sorts of players but like it or not - it WILL have impact on the community - and the gameplay. If people start forming groups primarily through their already set social circles from facebook, what will happen to the charming feature that you're actually entering the world without a single friend, entering an adventure where you make new friends and get new experiences?

I don't see the whole picture but I think that social networking mixed into the game will affect it - even if you can opt out of it.

@Anonymous: Hm... I haven't seen so much of smug comments yet, but maybe you're right... I think I've spotted a few more people who think that real names in the forums is a good idea now than I did before Blizzard changed their decision. I don't know why they're speaking up now tbh. And yeah, I'm tired of the entire thing too.

I think there are some important issues though hanging in the air that aren't solved. One is: how can we have a climate in the community which especially makes women not want to reveal their identities. For a different reason - not to hide from their employers. But to hide from players. That's honestly really upsetting. we have to take that fight too - for a better community. But with other methods than forcing players to appear under their names, because I don't think that's the solution.

@Taemjitsu: for a second I wondered if it was I who wrote that. Doesn't sound like me... You're quoting someone I linked to...

I agree that the forums could be way better. I don't think using our real names is the solution because a lot of the "good people" would get scared away. I advocate a way more heavily moderated forum, where people not just get banned from the forum but from the game. If the community managers can't handle it on their own they could take help from trusted players. There are already those green posters. Get more of them and give them some power.
That could be a start.

Ixobelle said...

We shouldn't celebrate.

We should remain pissed that they were going to do it in the first place.

Downhill arc, accelerate, go.

Anonymous said...

Are you serious? You can't be serious. There is no way that this blog could possibly be indicating your true feelings.

You're so bent up over a system that never went into effect that it damaged your trust in a company? They canceled it BECAUSE of the users, not to spite them! None of this hate on Blizzard makes any sense anymore.

Did you hate Blizzard when they canceled Starcraft Ghost? Warcraft Adventures? The company has an entire history of canceling stupid things, always to the benefit of the consumer. Why are you angry at this incident?

Larísa said...

@Ixobelle: I just read your I-quit-wow-post. I'm sorry to see you leave. I definitely agree that you should be able to change your account name. But I guess it has to do with preventing buying and selling of accounts. However, it doesn't make sense that you're able to create new accounts with stupid nicknames, while old customers can't change their names to keep their privacey, now that they've introduced a feature that definitely wasn't there when you joined the beta so many years ago. How should we know that this would happen?

@Anonymous: Well.. maybe my rhetoric is a bit stronger than necessary. But it's not just words. I was very disturbed by this idea. I'm asking myself why. And I think it has to do with the bigger picture, that this made me understand how strong the force is to move WoW towards being a social network platform rather than a fantasy world to explore. I never asked for the social network platform and it worries me because that's not the kind of game I want. I don't care about facebook integration and chatting with people who aren't even playing my game using their real names. I really don't. I'm afraid that this mission to become a Facebook game takes overhand over the heart and soul of WoW - killing dragons.

I also think they hit a nerve with me because in the end I'm an introvert. Just like Psychochild wrote in an absolutely excellent post that he just posted. It definitely helped me understand why this entire thing has been so apalling to me and why I can't just let it go in a heartbeat with a shrug.

http://psychochild.org/?p=977

Anonymous said...

The social network platform would have been Battle.net, which is not WoW, but sort of like Blizzard's version of a Steam account.

RyanC said...

I hope everyone who fears change leaves the game. Please. Go. You will not so much be not missed, as not noticed.

I like it when the companies I do business with try something new and make money for themselves. You feel Blizzard owes you in some way. They really don't.

Blizzard runs and operates the game, and you pay them a $15 fee to participate in that game. They do not do this as a social service for people. This isn't designed to help people with no social skills pass the time. They do it to make a profit, and so the families of their workers can go to college, have homes, and live just like anyone else.

If you have trouble understanding that, it's a YOU problem not Blizzard.

So please, leave the game. Find the MMO run by people who are doing it for the love of community or the joy of working for free.

Last I checked, the gulf is still being filled with oil on a daily basis, and all the Wow bloggers can do is bitch about RealId. How about you work on some real priorities, instead of this? Let me assist you.

Iraq.
Afghanistan.
BP Spill.
Global Recession.
Gays in the Military.
Financial Reform Bill.
Health Care Reform that still sucks.
Tea Party Lunatics.
and so on...

Perdissa said...

Wow, I didn't know they had reversed their decision, but I'm glad I found out about it here.

I just really, really hope they don't try to implement mandatory real ID in-game. There was a time I'd have considered this impossible. No longer.

Larísa said...

@RyanC: It would be easy to get provoked and revert to gutter-level argumentation after such a comment. We normally don't use that tone here. This is pub where the banter might get high from time to time, but we still keep it a civilized conversation.

Anyway: This is a WoW blog where I write about stuff that's up with WoW. This doesn't mean that I don't care about real life issues. For whatever you know I could be a full-fledged Greenpeace activist. It's just that I don't mix those different parts of my life.

I've written more about this here if you're interested:


http://www.pinkpigtailinn.com/2009/11/different-perspective-on-wow-charity.html

If our concerns upset you and annoys you to the degree that you wish us to be gone from the game I's suggest that you on your hand would reconsider your reading of WoW blogs. It probably isn't good for your blood pressure. Why expose yourself to opinions that will make you so unhappy?

But on the other hand - you could have a beer and a seat in front of the fireplace overthere and just cool down a bit. It could be an alternative. It's up to you.

Cheers!

timefortincan said...

I too, found the post at http://greyshades.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/an-open-letter-to-blizzard/ to say it very well: I have facebook if I want it (but hardly ever bother), LinkedIn, twitter, a phone... But WoW is a place for dragons and trolls, for huge sea monsters and zomnbies, for yetis and werewolves, goblins and wizards.

Just listing them reminds me that this is heavy fantasy stuff. Not the sort of thing that crops up in a conversation over the garden fence with my neighbours. Which is why I objected to the intrusion of real life into my fun play world.

For me, the monetisation of the game has started to annoy - the way that in-game items can be purchased for money - starting off small with the cude pandaran monk, then getting to the stage where everyone in Dalaran is on a sparklepony. So many pounds/euros/dollars have to have been made from the sparkleponies alone... Whenever I see one, I am painfully reminded of how I am a potential customer (mark, sap?) rather than Cresside the priest, or Nessalda the druid...

I think you are right to be wary of the Blizzard top management - and at the same time to have trust in the GMs and actual "game" developers (as opposed to social networking integration facilitators)

Let's hope that Cataclysm does not show us little facebook-type pop-up reminders about harvesting Farmville crops, or friends request pop-ups mid raid...