Blizzard Cancels Implementation of RealID on Forums

wow-cataclysm

In response to the uproar over forcing forum posters to use their real names on Blizzard forums (and all the inherent dangers of that approach), Blizzard had little to say this morning, offering only a “no comment.” This was after saying yesterday that they were “carefully monitoring how people are using the service.”

Well, they’ve had something to say now. In a forum post by Blizzard poster Nethaera on behalf of Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime, the company says,

“We’ve been constantly monitoring the feedback you’ve given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.”

While Blizzard was clear in stating that this decision will not affect RealID implementation that is currently in the game, it also stated clearly that such implementation was optional, saying, “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.”

This quick reversal is no doubt the result of the enormous wave of anger that swept the internet Tuesday in the wake of Blizzard’s announcement. I’m sure it didn’t help that the one Blizzard staffer who posted his real name on the forum soon found his personal information plastered across WoW blogs.

Regardless of the reason, it’s a good thing that Blizzard has backed off this stance. They do plan to, “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,” but as you’ll notice, that’s even clearly going to be optional too. If not, you can expect to see another tsunami of posts, blogs, and stories decrying whatever they have in mind.

It’s nice to see that sometimes gamers who voice their concerns (and in some cases, cancel their accounts) can be heard. Let’s hope this isn’t the last bad decision that gets reversed after a community backlash.

Here’s Mike Morhaime’s full statement:

“Hello everyone,

I’d like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. We’ve been constantly monitoring the feedback you’ve given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.

It’s important to note that we still remain committed to improving our forums. Our efforts are driven 100% by the desire to find ways to make our community areas more welcoming for players and encourage more constructive conversations about our games. We will still move forward with new forum features such as conversation threading, the ability to rate posts up or down, improved search functionality, and more. However, 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 + 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.

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.

In closing, I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that Every Voice Matters, ( http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/mission.html ) and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games. We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard’s success from the beginning.

Mike Morhaime
CEO & Cofounder
Blizzard Entertainment”

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