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Blizzard U-turns on Real ID, confirms it won’t be implemented

Friday, 9th July 2010 18:00 GMT By Patrick Garratt

starcraft26

Blizzard has just confirmed that plans to implement Real ID on its forums won’t go ahead, following a community backlash to the scheme.

Speaking on the Blizzard forums, company boss Mike Morhaime said, “When we launch the new StarCraft II forums that include these new features, you will be posting by your StarCraft II Battle.net character name and character code, not your real name.

“The upgraded World of Warcraft forums with these new features will launch close to the release of Cataclysm, and also will not require your real name.”

Morhaimed added: “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.

“And of course, you’ll still be able to keep your relationships at the anonymous, character level if you so choose when you communicate with other players in game. Over time, we will continue to evolve Real ID on Battle.net to add new and exciting functionality within our games for players who decide to use the feature.”

Back from the brink

Earlier today, Blizzard declined to comment on a backlash to its decision to implement the Real ID system on its forums, with multiple blogs posting personal information about Activision employees and their families in an effort to prove a point.

“No comment,” was the only official response available this morning.

Overnight, bloggers posted personal information about Bobby Kotick, his wife and children in an apparent attempt to show how easy it is to gain details on addresses, hobbies, phone numbers and the like when in possession of someone’s real name.

A Blizzard forum mod, who posted his real name on the company’s forums to lead by example, has now had a large amount of personal data posted live, including his address, telephone numbers, school history, employment history, family details and more.

Retreat, surrender

Blizzard said on Tuesday that it would start posting Blizzard forum members’ real names alongside their messages on the StarCraft II forum when the RTS releases on July 27.

The World of Warcraft forums will adopt the same policy when Cataclysm launches later this year.

Explaining the reasoning behind the move at the time, community manager Nethaera said, “Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before.”

Following a violent reaction to the news on the Blizzard forums, the company said yesterday that it “will be carefully monitoring how people are using the service,” and that “Real ID is a new and different concept for Blizzard gamers – and for us as well – and our goal is to create a social gaming service that players want to use.”

While the official announcement thread on the issue approached 1,600 comments on Friday morning, Blizzard still went forward with confirmation that both the Diablo II and WarCraft III forums will also move to Real ID when StarCraft II released.

Never more. Even Hitler got in on the act. Let’s chalk this one up to experience.

Breaking news

40 Comments

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  1. Robo_1

    Yeah, at first I thought this was a neat idea, but it could lead to all sorts of potential trouble, people looking for a bit or real world payback to out of control forum arguments or gaming disputes.

    The ideal is nice, but I’m afraid there are too many crazies out there for this to work without problems.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. wiking

    Blizzard seem less and less concerned about their loyal fans. I thought no LAN was as bad as it could get, but now this. They know we’ll all buy Starcraft 2 regardless, so they think they can do what they want.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. NGCes26294BIV

    I don’t think the Cynical view is very helpful here. I believe Blizzard genuinely thought that this would be a good idea.

    Sadly, it’s a shit one.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Freek

    Blizzard just made a deal with Facebook to make Battlenet compatible with the social networking service. That’s where all this is comming from and also why it’s giant mistake.

    The verry public gaming community, full of assholes, has no place crossing over to the verry private sphere of social networking. A place where you choose who your friends are and who gets to see what. A place to interact with people you know in the real world.
    Internet gaming and open forums full of douchebags have no place in that.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Aimless

    Isn’t the name only displayed on the official forums? I don’t really see what all the consternation is about when it’s such an opt-in aspect of the game; the people you’re playing with aren’t going to know who you are.

    Make the forums private by all means — or just set it so that real names and links to profiles are only displayed when logged in — but people really are making this into one mountainous molehill.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Patrick Garratt

    @5 – I think it’s just the forums, yep.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Freek

    For now it’s just the forums, given the deal in place with Facebook and the social networking aspiration Blizzard has, who knows where it’s going to stop.

    More importantly people are already posting on the forums, it’s something they are already involved in and are now being forced to reveal thier real names. Something they never “opted in” to. And have no desire to do.

    All in the name of cleaning up the forums, when in reality your are giving the assholes more valueable ammunition to harres you: your real name. And I can imagine the female members won’t be too happy about having their gender exposed either.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Aimless

    You don’t have to connect your Facebook account, though. That’s a link you choose to draw.

    If the Real ID change retroactively affects prior forum posts then I agree that’s an issue — I’d assumed the entire thing would be a fresh start — but personally I don’t have a problem with Blizzard taking control of its official forums in view of making a less degenerative community; unlike the games themselves, forums are easily replicated elsewhere.

    I agree that protecting privacy within Blizzard’s environment is important, but if anything the rather puerile reaction from ‘bloggers’ — truly the hoodies of the virtual world — shows why encouraging a less hateful, anonymous community is somewhat needed. If people really want to find out who you are it generally isn’t that hard, so I would say it’s better to try to make people less vindictive over a God damn computer game then swathe everyone in a veneer of privacy.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. Freek

    Better moderation is how you deal with forum problems, not exposing everybodies identity.

    Privacy should always come first. People play and interact in the game and on the forum because of the video game. Your real name should have no bearing on that. Problem with trolls? Deal with those people directly without involving everybody and generating privacy issues to boot.

    Penny Arcde Linked to an interesting article about the giant can of worms it opens up.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Aimless

    My point is that Blizzard are talking about enforcing the scheme on their forums, that’s it. So long as it’s clear that you are agreeing to be a part of that community then I don’t feel you’ve much right to complain; if you’re after a forum there are untold alternatives, and no doubt more will spring up soon enough.

    Similarly, my understanding is that your Real ID is all that is displayed on the forums unless you choose otherwise. The article you linked to highlights in-game harassment, which is actually easier at present — at least in terms of WoW — as you are represented by your character. If your forum account is the only means of contact it actually makes things far easier to moderate as it’s the only point of contact, so if you are a female receiving salacious messages from other users that person is not only easily traceable but runs the risk of having their entire Battle.Net account frozen or worse; theoretically they could have legal action taken against them. Similarly you can block people at a Real ID level in-game, barring all of their characters in all games from contacting you in one fell swoop.

    The entire Real ID system is voluntary. There are still less personal Friend systems in place for both WoW and StarCraft II, the Real ID level of access is really aimed at those people who know each other in real life. If you don’t want to be represented by your real name on the official forums, no one is forcing you to post on them. Even if you decide to do so, other users only see your name, not your actual account; they can’t access a list of all your characters or glean any other information that you have not given.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Freek

    That article deals with the Real ID issue and the myriad of problems it exposes by having your name atached to a public forum.

    Why expose female gamers to unwanted attention in the first place? Your name also reveals gender.

    Why have your forum posts and your name open to the public? Do you want your boss or potential employer find out about your gaming habbits?

    The banning and moderation already works without publicly revealing the names. That works, but nothing beyond that.

    Ofcourse you can simply no longer be a part of the forum, but why force people out of the community? People like to be a part of the forums but now it’s made less atrative due to privacy concerns. People are rightly complaining to Blizzard for that.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. Phoenixblight

    @Aimless

    You fail to see how easy it is to get information about a person with just your name. Did you read about the Blizzard employee being harassed just for showing some “faith” in the system? Granted worst case scenario but what if I decide to go in the forums and I rub person just the right way? I don’t need that drama nor does anyone else. There is a better way to control trolls.

    “Similarly, my understanding is that your Real ID is all that is displayed on the forums unless you choose otherwise.”

    There is no opt out. Blizzard has already stated this the only opt out system is simply not participating in the forums.

    “If your forum account is the only means of contact it actually makes things far easier to moderate as it’s the only point of contact”

    No not really its as easy as 1,2,3 to make a fake account. I know I did it yesterday to prove a point. That is if you are just trolling the forums. In game its always been easy to ban accounts, the real id is not enforced there. ITs not like there isn’t a 10 day WoW trial, its what the gold sellers use.

    ” Even if you decide to do so, other users only see your name, not your actual account; they can’t access a list of all your characters or glean any other information that you have not given.”

    Actually its pretty damn simple there are sites that do it for 15$ and I remember watching a CNN thing where this programmer had made a program that found all your information with just knowing your First and Last name. He said it went even so far to find your credit card and Social Security number.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. DeSpiritusBellum

    I have to agree with Aimless. Blizzard aren’t going to publish more info than you can find in the average phonebook. Can people take advantage of that? Sure. Can they fuck with your life? Sure, but any identity scammer out there can do that with extraordinary ease already.

    There’ve been cases around Europe of identity thieves going through garbage for documents in order to set up their scam. It’s just a remote threat of every day life.

    That being said, I don’t see why you’d neccesarily publish an entire name. A last name or first name with initials should do as much as Blizzard wants it to. People are still a lot less likely to fuck around if there’s even the notion that they could be held responsible.

    I just don’t buy the argument that “Oh my God, WoW players can kill my whole family” – Geeze, what a bunch of egotrippers. What makes you so important as to be wiped out? Kotick is still alive, ain’t he? And I’m sure he’s a lot more hated than any Battle.net player.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. Phoenixblight

    “I just don’t buy the argument that “Oh my God, WoW players can kill my whole family” – Geeze, what a bunch of egotrippers. ”

    Did I say wiped out? No I said harassed. And its not just WoW players that have access to it. Anyone can access the forums there is no Battle.net account required to access them.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Aimless

    @11 To be honest I don’t think players being female is as big an issue as you’re suggesting. Not to say that some of them don’t get hounded at the moment — clearly they do — but I know that when I played WoW the majority of the people I played with were female. Maybe when people on the official forums realise that having breasts isn’t such a novelty they won’t make such a big deal out of it.

    Moderation is reactionary, the aim of using real names is to instil a sea change in the way people behave. It’s an attempt to get to the root of the problem rather than futilely hacking back the overgrowth, and if you don’t want to be a part of it then you don’t have to be.

    @12 Is your name Bradley Wood? I’m not saying it is, that’s just the conclusion 15 seconds of Googling draws. The point is that if someone is really out to get you there’s plenty of ways for them to go about it, so surely it’s better to weed out animosity before it gets to that level.

    I didn’t say the new system is immune to trolling, I was saying that it’s divorced from your in-game persona unless you wish otherwise. Even if someone has a dispute with you in-game, they aren’t going to be able the draw the link between your character and forum account unless a) you wish it, or b) they’re ridiculously obsessive, in which case you were pretty much screwed to begin with.

    Frankly I don’t understand all these apparent disputes anyway. I played WoW for about 4 years and can’t recall receiving a single negative correspondence, presumably because I wasn’t out to dick people over. So there you have it, the ultimate safety measure: you reap what you sow.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. DeSpiritusBellum

    @14 Well, either way, I still don’t see it happening. I’m sure there will be 3 or so widely publicized cases of it worldwide, but chances are those people will have really pissed someone off using their real names, and that’s just never a good idea.

    Fact is most WoW players are reclusive wimps. If it was a biker MMO full of rapists from Hells Angels I’d be a little apprehensive. I don’t see how it’s more dangerous to post in a games forum using your real name, than it is to walk the street, or show your name on your mailbox.

    If you want to be scared there’s plenty to be scared about, you can fear terrorists, commies, space aliens or homicidal WoW players, I just don’t think it’s the way to go.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. OlderGamer

    Aimless is wrong. Just that simple and don’t be fooled. Please.

    Real ID was just shut down yesterday because of an Add on that allowed players to obtain a players Real ID even that player had thewir account set to child(which by default disables Real ID).

    Wow is full of add ons. Blizz even encourages the use of comunity made add ons. Most of them are comunity rated, but not filtered, and certianly not monitered officialy by Blizz. Even when they get rid of said offending add on, more will pop up.

    Here is a simple question. Just a question, please ask yourself.

    Why would ActiBlizz impliment a feature like RealID? How is it going to be adventagious … to them?

    Do you really believe they are simply trying to enhance the consumers experience? Can’t people on facebook already talk about their adventures in WoW? Can’t they, on their pages, already tell everyone they know about what server, what faction, what toons they play? So, what exactly does RealID do? And for who?

    One of the angles is simple. Look at the TOS(terms of service) it states, not so slearly, that they own your personial infor. Your ID. And that they can at any time and at will, without informing you, sell your personial info. And they did, to facebook.

    Next up, do you really believe that it ends in the forum?

    Blizz reps have ready been quoted as stating this is just a phase in a long term strategy. So … what is the next phase? In game RealID? Next to your toon, is a page of personial details?

    How about personialized demographic targeted pruduct placement? Would be cool, wouldn’t it, for them to realize that I own a Ford van. Why sure it would, then they could sell that to advitisers and I could recieve in game whispers from Ford Motors.

    They could take their marketing alliance with Pepsi(MNT DEW) to another level. In game and out.

    Extreme? No, just a stretch. And only because we are standing at the abyss right now. Where this goes, we really don’t know. But remind yourself that this is a big bizz we are talking about. There singular motivation is to increase profits. How does RealID fit into that? And what are they going to do with that info in the future? I don’t know what is waiting for me over that ledge, I can’t see the bottum. But I sure as hell don’t want to jump.

    Plus we have all read the cases of stalkers harming/killing other players online. It doesn’t happen often, but if RealID leads to even one case that could have been avoided … that is one case that will be on ActiBlizz. In truth I see the biggest threat being virtual harassment. Slander. And worse Indentity theft. Now instead of in game gold the fine upstanding people behind Chinesse sweat shope gold farming can get ahold of your real life info and go after your bank account, credit cards, etc. Wait till someone grabs a soc. number. It takes years to come back from an identity theft, and it changes your forever.

    I beg you, don’t be fooled. Stand up and say NO. And at the very lest ask yourself who wins with RealID? You? ActiBlizz? The bizs that buy your info from ActiBlizz? Or criminals looking to use the system for monitary gains.?

    Oh and guess what, one last thing, posting on the forums is what Blizz tells you to do when your account get comprimised, are having a tech issue, support issue, game balance issue, have ideas to improve the game, want to give general feedback, connect with guild mates/raiding parteners. The forums is a vital part of the wow experience. That being said I never used them until I was hacked and lost my account. I tried the phone was on hold for hours, then disconected. I sent an email. And three days after trying that with no results, I went to the forums. I had help that afternoon. Got my account back 24hrs later.

    So can you avoid the forums? Maybe. But why should you have to?

    What?

    But OG flagging your account to child disables RealID. Just do that.

    Sure, but I am not a child. And what happens if I want to play the Mrated StarcraftII? Mrated Diablo II or down the road Diablo III? Child account is not a solution, simply an admitance that there is a greater problem here.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. Phoenixblight

    See they do listen!

    http://www.wow.com/2010/07/09/mike-morhaime-real-names-will-not-be-required-on-official-forum/

    #18 4 years ago
  19. Patrick Garratt

    And that’s that.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. Aimless

    So I wrote all that for nothing? That’s it, I’m tracking down Mike Morhaime using his Real ID and driving past his house so I can give his letterbox a really stern look!

    #20 4 years ago
  21. Patrick Garratt

    @20 – :D

    #21 4 years ago
  22. DeSpiritusBellum

    Wow, I did not see that coming. In all the years I played WoW I didn’t see Blizzard admit to even the most obvious mistakes in anything they did.

    Personally I’m a bit disappointed. Granted I’m not likely to use those forums anymore, but the reason I didn’t in the years I played WoW were all the anonymous morons.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. Phoenixblight

    @22

    I have many times especially during Burning Crusade and Wrath beta.

    I honestly don’t know what they were expecting. I saw this as being the reaction of the community.

    #23 4 years ago
  24. Mafia II

    why the picture changed?

    #24 4 years ago
  25. DeSpiritusBellum

    @23 I’m gonna need proof of that. I want three mistakes that Blizzard has admitted to. Preferably ones where they caved to the community.

    Betas don’t count though, they’re basically there for people to bitch over.

    I can’t count the hugely supported campaigns that Blizzard just sat and ignored during my time in WoW. It took them what, 4 years to implement the namechange feature? People were crying for that since the original beta.

    Not to mention lan-gate.

    #25 4 years ago
  26. Freek

    And sanity wins out in the end. :)

    #26 4 years ago
  27. Phoenixblight

    @25

    I can’t give you proof because they closed down the beta forums for BC and Wrath. And this “feature” as they call it was not a simple class,faction and name change, this is messing with their privacy whether it be the illusion of it or now. People know Big brother is out there but they want to be in denial over it.

    Not only that but Kotick wife’s info being put on blast along with Blue Bashiak or something being constantly harassed. How else were they going to respond especially with one of their main things being all blizzard employees that post on the forums would have their real names posted. Then they took that away. There was no other choice in the matter.

    #27 4 years ago
  28. blackdreamhunk

    ahhahahahahahahahahahahahhahaha that video link is so right on………..even blizzard is becoming a joke these days!spot on!

    Microsoft and nosy has done a lot to destroy pc gaming. Must games now a days are console junk!there was time you when you could all kinds of genres but it’s shooter fest!

    Even blizzards seems to let pc gamers down these days!

    sorry blizzard I am not buying star craft2

    #28 4 years ago
  29. Dralen

    LOL! That video is great.

    #29 4 years ago
  30. DeSpiritusBellum

    @27 Well, like I said, beta forums are there for complaints, and the only reason for including people in betas is so that you can regard their feedback. I don’t see that as a valid argument. I’m talking about complaints about the actual game, not it’s testing builds.

    As for the people trying to sabotage real ID, that’s just incredibly moronic. It’s like saying “This bridge could fail if someone bombed it” and then bombing it. I realize there’s a demonstrational value in there, but just because there’s a risk of abuse, it doesn’t mean it will be the case. Going to extremes and abusing it yourself just makes you a douchebag.

    Personally I’ve written under my own name, covering the heavy metal scene for more than 6 years, recieving death threats, including one reward on my head, placed by a record company to anyone who hurt me in some way. Inspite of the people behind those threats being convicted for assault several times, nothing materialized, and I don’t regret using my real name, partly because I can defend myself, and partly because my reporting and criticisms would be pointless without people being able to hold me accountable.

    I think it’s making a lot out of nothing. I’ve had my name posted everywhere, including said criminal circles, my Facebook site is open to everyone, and I’ve not been harmed in any way.

    #30 4 years ago
  31. Phoenixblight

    @30

    THats fine but Blizzard bowed and they won’t be using it instead they are going with a single handle instead of using level 1 alts to troll forums. And also a rating system.

    #31 4 years ago
  32. Gekidami

    And i’d already gone and bought the chloroform and everything. :(

    #32 4 years ago
  33. DeSpiritusBellum

    @31 Well we’ll see what develops. It’s going to be optional.

    I think if people can accept something like Facebook, which has been proven to be used by plenty of criminals to track your activities (so they can rob your place) identity scammers or intelligence services alike, they can go to that level in a games forum.

    @32 Thank goodness for Craigslist, eh?

    #33 4 years ago
  34. Freek

    No, it’s not like Facebook, that’s the problem. In Facebook you choose who you communicate and share details with. Mostly people you know in real life. It’s private.

    A gaming forum is completly open to the public at all times, not at all a place where you want to share any personal info what so ever.

    #34 4 years ago
  35. Happy Hardon Harry

    Robo_1 said:
    July 9, 2010 at 10:00 am

    The ideal is nice, but I’m afraid there are too many crazies out there for this to work without problems.

    Indeed, yet saying that, if i knew where that braindead monkey ,loki, lived i’d be over to his house gouging his eyes out with a spoon.

    #35 4 years ago
  36. The_Villa

    I think it was done to prevent the Internet Fuckward theory, proposed by Gabriel of Penny Arcade, it is explained here: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19/

    #36 4 years ago
  37. DeSpiritusBellum

    @34 Not really. People can still find your name by using your e-mail address (if memory serves?) and there are still several companies specializing in harvesting your personal details from behind Facebooks own security systems.

    To me that’s something to be slightly worried about, since a lot of those companies are quite clearly advertising their government contracts.

    You don’t stand a chance. If someone really really wants to find out who you are, they can.

    #37 4 years ago
  38. OlderGamer

    Nice saving roll by Blizzard.

    But we are watching you.

    #38 4 years ago
  39. Freek

    If somebody knows about you before hand they can go to the trouble of finding you on Facebook. Or if you deploy sophisticated technology to hack thier system, all things that require a fair amount of effort. Plus you can simply not be on Facebook.

    That is an entirely different situation then having what you write about on a forum open to everybody with your name atached to it. It just another barier that would be lowered needlesly.

    The internet is not some fun little gadget anymore. It’s tied into our lives in all sorts of ways and you need to be carefull about what you leave behind on it. As such anything that makes it more easier for your details to leak out in unwanted places is not something that you can just brush off and act lighthearted about.

    #39 4 years ago
  40. LOLshock94

    nerdiest convo ever

    #40 4 years ago