In an attempt to "promote constructive conversations" and curb "flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness," Blizzard will require users to use their real names when posting to forums on the company's Battle.net community site.
During the StarCraft II beta test phase, Blizzard introduced a "Real ID" feature, allowing players to add each other to their in-game friends list through a mutual agreement system that displays their real names alongside their Battle.net account names. According to a Blizzard employee post on the Battle.net forums today, that Real ID system will remain optional within games, but will be mandatory for both users and Blizzard employees when posting on the forums.
That requirement will be rolled out to the StarCraft II forum as the game approaches release later this month, and will extend to World of Warcraft as that game nears its ship date, expected later this year. Blizzard says "certain classic forums" will remain unchanged.
"The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players -- however, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild," explained a Blizzard employee going by the name Nethaera.
"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."
Blizzard says that players of its games "have formed meaningful real-life relationships across borders and oceans," and the company believes that its Real ID system will help facilitate "a new and different kind of online gaming environment -- one that’s highly social, and which provides an ideal place for gamers to form long-lasting, meaningful relationships."
It is not clear how Blizzard plans to enforce the real name requirement. When creating a new Battle.net account, players can choose any first and last name they wish. However, to post in a given game forum, the user account must be tied to a unique CD key for that particular game, meaning most players cannot effectively create multiple forum-enabled accounts without buying redundant copies of games. Blizzard may be relying on that account scarcity to encourage players to ensure their primary account is legitimate. Gamasutra has contacted the company for further comment.