Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
August 1, 2014
arrowPress Releases
August 1, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


Blizzard: 'We're Definitely Listening To Player Feedback' On Real ID
Blizzard: 'We're Definitely Listening To Player Feedback' On Real ID
July 7, 2010 | By Chris Remo

July 7, 2010 | By Chris Remo
Comments
    41 comments
More:



Since World Of Warcraft and StarCraft II creator Blizzard announced that its official forums would phase in mandatory use of its newly announced "Real ID" system, which marks posts with their writers' real-life names, there has been a deluge of heated discussion about the decision, and Blizzard says it is "definitely listening to player feedback."

"[We] will be carefully monitoring how people are using the service," a Blizzard representative told Gamasutra this week. "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."

The Real ID system remains optional within Blizzard's current games like World of Warcraft and StarCraft II. Players can take advantage of it by adding friends by their Battle.net-associated email account, rather than their public user name.

The system is only planned as a requirement on the Battle.net community forums. StarCraft II's forum will begin using Real ID later this month, and World of Warcraft's will begin as the Cataclysm expansion pack's release approaches.

"It's important to note that both enabling Real ID in game and posting on the official Blizzard forums are completely optional," the Blizzard rep said. "Players can continue to read the forums anonymously regardless of whether they choose to post in them, and their gameplay experiences will not change if they choose not to use the Real ID communication features in game."

He also says players can enable parental controls to keep their children from using the Real ID system, or to disable their forum posting capabilities.

Players can actually register any name they wish when signing up for their Real ID -- but an account for a given game must be tied to a unique CD key for that game, and Blizzard says it plans to attempt to enforce the use of legitimate names.

"We have multiple teams here who will be monitoring the forums and looking for inappropriate names," the rep explained. "When the situation does arise, our community and customer service representatives will investigate and determine if any action is needed.

"In addition, our Terms of Use agreement requires that players provide us with accurate information, as certain aspects of the customer service we provide (for example, addressing forgotten-password issues) rely on identity verification -- if a player uses a fake name, it would ultimately impact our ability to provide him or her with timely service."


Related Jobs

The Guildhall at SMU
The Guildhall at SMU — Plano, Texas, United States
[08.01.14]

eCenter Faculty: Software Development
Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard Entertainment — Irvine, California, United States
[08.01.14]

Test Engineer
Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard Entertainment — Irvine, California, United States
[08.01.14]

Quality Assurance Analyst
Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard Entertainment — Irvine, California, United States
[08.01.14]

Test Manager, Quality Assurance










Comments


Bob Stevens
profile image
I guess they can start by monitoring their own misuse of RealID.

Iain Hendry
profile image
Considering the forums are a key part of customer service (tech support, bug reporting, etc) the argument that you don't need to use the forums doesn't sway me. You don't usually have to choose between privacy and tech support.

Adam Bishop
profile image
If Blizzard was interested in listening it wouldn't be launching the service at all. This has absolutely nothing to do with games or forum behaviour, and is instead about trying to get into the data mining business that Facebook makes so much money off of. They're banking on exactly the same thing that Facebook banks on - that users are so tied to the service already that they can do just about anything they want and people won't quit. I think it's pretty unlikely that Blizzard will back down on this precisely because it's not about games; it's about building a social network where they can monetise people's personal information.

blah blah
profile image
Blizzard has no concept of security, this was relevent when they made people switch from the original login method to Battle.net logins which use email as your login. The Real ID will cause even more Identity Fraud. but ever since Blizzard sold out 2 years ago, they are not calling the shots.



If Blizzard CEO singed off on this then he clearly does not have kids nor does he care about security.

Chinese Gold farmer/hacker please take my name and give to Yu Yang and impersonate me please.



My real ID will be :BenderOver SlammerHarder

josh pike
profile image
the thing is if all they wanted to do was to get rid of trolling and whatnot on the forums, then the only way to do it would be to hire alot of people to monitor their forums, but that would cost alot so they are putting your name on the forums, it will just piss people off and have them stuff using the forums.



has any other company EVER done anything like this?

Paul Peak
profile image
Someone ought to remind Blizzard that playing their games is also "optional".

Joe Wreschnig
profile image
@ Adam



I don't really see how this gives Blizzard data mining capabilities they did not already have. Maybe it makes cross-game mining a bit easier (though I can't imagine it would be hard for them to do this now, it would just involve a few more table cross-references), but cross-game identity is generally viewed as a feature by players.

David Toft
profile image
Creating a social network is brilliant on Blizzards part. The controversy will only increase its exposure and those who have a problem with it will end up paying for the game anyways.

Chan Chun Phang
profile image
@josh pike



Well, you are posting on your name right now, so...

blah blah
profile image
@ Chan Chun Phang



Your a rocket scientist.

josh pike
profile image
maybe this is not my name and I am sneaky....

Kim Wahlman
profile image
By displaying ONLY the first- and last-name you wouldn't really reveal who you are unless you have told exactly everyone the street you live on as well. In my region alone there is 3 (including me) named identically as me. How can anyone at any given time know which one of these 3 (2 boys and 1 girl) is me?



Sure I have Facebook but so does 1 other of these people. Unless you have a really really unique name it wont be a problem and if you still doesn't want to show the name you carry do not post. Even people with a foreign nationality has a hard time having a unique name these days.



I say go for it!

Matthieu Poujade
profile image
So, let me get this straight... It is a good idea because in your area, there are 3 people with the same name as you? So we're all good? ;)



Dude. Please. If you're in favor of the service, I'm sure you can find better arguments. Like, how solid a business opportunity it is to create stickiness beyond games you release, as a company, because you have created ties than transcend "I raid with Boortaghax because he is well geared". Or said "RL" community will buy your games together and enjoy a better early experience, etc.



But the point of the discussion going on, as I understand it, is : Real ID make forums less of a safe place to post your thoughts. And I don't think anybody in their right mind can not see that.



Having said that, there will always be people who don't care about privacy - good for them, people who rage for nothing - not so good for them, and people who just plain don't care and will stop using the Blizzard forums if they ever used them.



One last thing I hear a lot: they should hire a bunch of moderators!!!1!1oneone. From a player, I can hear that. From an industry professional, this is, sorry to say it bluntly, quite short-sighted. Moderators are resources you dedicate to providing a free service (generating 0 cash) with marginal value (there are dozens of very viable alternatives to wow/other games forums, like MMO champ, EJ, Judgehype etc.). Typically, as your game scales in size, you go from one dude who was in charge of community, communication, etc... to a battery of staff costing 6, sometimes 7 figures... Point being...



It IS a big deal to hire a crap load of moderators to keep your forums clean. I think Blizzard has already done that, and now sees their Real ID feature (again, developed for stickiness purposes, not to prevent forum trolls) as an opportunity to cut some costs on the moderation issue. It is not necessarily the most romantic solution, and again, I agree with the whole privacy rant, but it is by no means a situation that can "easily" be remedied with "go hire mods, problem solved".

Kim Wahlman
profile image
@ Matthieu Poujade

I do not care even if I was the only one, I do not have anything to hide or be afraid over by showing my name, if I did I wouldn't comment here or any other forum that I use.



Lets see... opening google... search parameter "Matthieu Poujade" oh... facebook, linkedin, twitter etc etc! See why would blizzards forum make any difference? It would be different guys all of them of course, but that goes with WoW's forum as well.



I wouldn't hire people for moderating the forums, the should ask members of the community that have been there a long time doing a good job in helping and that are nice to both pro and newbs :] free and good

WoW Player
profile image
I've almost quit the game over this. I was on the cancel account page today and the urge to go through with it was almost overwhelming. The only thing that holds me back is that my girlfriend plays and would get upset if I quit without her.



Luckily she agrees with me when it gets to the point that Real ID is Mandatory in-game. Once we are forced to show our Real Life names in this Role Play environment she's out, and Blizzard will miss out on at least two long-term paying customers.

Tim Johnston
profile image
Not sure how I feel about this yet. I do know the number of hacked WoW accounts has gone up DRAMATICALLY in the past year. Many people I know who have been hacked are running virus programs etal and think the compromise was on Blizzards end, not theirs.

Matthieu Poujade
profile image
@Kim: I'm ok with people finding me on the web, it doesn't mean everybody is. My point was theoretical, if you prefer. I think we both "behave" in a similar manner on the internet, but we need to understand that a lot of people don't feel that way.



@Tim: I'm not sure what your point is. Genuinely. :) What's the link between Real ID on forums and a security breach server-side? If you could elaborate, pretty plz. :)

Francois Messier
profile image
I wouldn't mind having my first name showed, and all other info something that blizzard would have, but showing both on a game forum? dunno

Buck Hammerstein
profile image
reports are circulating that a blizzard employee was downplaying the concerns of females about fear of harassment. within an hour someone had tracked down his phone number and posted it, urging people to call him with their opinion on the subject.



whether this is true my concern is not only for the headache people may have to go through, changing their phone numbers and such, but what if this isn't the guy's number? people aren't detectives and now some other person is being plagued by thousands of harassing phone calls for no reason.



the thread of complaints is over 1000 pages long today. this policy change would like to assert that posters are more responsible for their words. but it seems that it will simply silence the vast majority of people. is the cure worse than the disease?

Phil OConnor
profile image
I think this is bad business for Blizzard on multiple levels. Sure you dont want your forums to become a cesspit of insults and juvenile flame wars, especially with such a huge player base from all walks of life. But your forums are the heart and soul of your community, if you stifle openness then your forum slowly dies as a source of information, bonding and roleplaying. If you forum dies......I think some devs forget that the forums are part of the "game", most of the time is spent "playing" wow offline, discussing, debating, planning... In my experience it is better to have a somewhat wild forum population rather than a squeaky clean one. I believe this will backfire in the long run and achieve the opposite of what they want. The only real solution is robust forum policing, which means a dedicated (paid) team of people paid to keep it semi clean without taking the fun out of it. That much harder than it sounds, but it has been done successfully before.

Ken Kinnison
profile image
They're Listening and ignoring.

I don't think the creapiness factor can be understated on this.

It doesn't take much profiling to get useful information on someone, and someone WILL abuse this. I think the abuse potential far outweighs any pro's.

Juan Del Rio
profile image
I'd be ok with this if it displayed First name and last inicial, keeping it like the CIA does it :)

Tom Baird
profile image
I think people overestimate the security of names. A name means nothing unless you've already posted your address or phone number or pictures linked to your name somewhere else publicly. If you have twitter or facebook or myspace or linkedin your information is already publicly retrievable for malicious activity.



My name right now is on the top of my comment, I have a website with my resume and lots of personal information. Whether you got that name from a video game forum or a forum about video games is really pretty irrelevant, it's the resume and website that are the real issues.



And if you are in need of high security, then you probably don't have your personal information spread across the web, in which case retrieving just a name is pretty useless, as it does not directly link to a person without all the other more detailed and personal information you've already given out.

Ken Kinnison
profile image
@Tom and other skeptics....

This is a professional site, hence why I use my real name.



I played wow for a few years, in the last guild I was in we had quite a few girls, they came on ventrilo especially during raids. I feel, if they lacked the anonymity factor, less of them might have.



Thru the extended play time of WoW people build relationships. Those relationships can develop into something that was not intended as is, why add an extra layer of danger to it?



It is precisely because things like linkln and myspace that I'm MORE concerned about the name release. Most stalker situations don't develop because someone goes 'I want to stalk a girl in Calla Springs Nevada today!' But this gives a situation where someone decides they don't like/like too much someone and then use those same networks you cited to aquire information about a specific target.

'Evesta the night elf' is a random person, or maybe a guildie' Miley Hilton is a specific person, and some stalker might easily figure out what town she's in... and he's gonna meet up with her because he KNOWS she loves him right?



Keep in mind even on those networks you named, overshare is a problem, a town had a kidnapping/murder incident based on myspace. A year later a police officer conducted an impromptu test and found no one had learned their lesson.



Likely no one on here will have a reason to go after me, but couple it with a situation like WoW where emotions DO run high- maybe I'm a top arena guy in my battlegroup, maybe some dude thinks I'm messing with his girlfriend, maybe a fellow guildie doesn't like that I rolled 100 on a drop... at the very least I might end up with my car tires slashed, at the worst I might end up beaten with a ball bat. We've already had incidents like this, why make it easier?

Ken Kinnison
profile image
@Tim

My account was hacked a few days ago- I haven't played in about 2 years... does make you wonder doesn't it?

Daniel Balmert
profile image
The only way this system will work is if your realID isn't tied to your online persona on the forums. By that I mean, if my posts had "Daniel Balmert" and not "Daniel Balmert - SuperDeathMage44"



I'm okay with staying out of flame wars and being polite on the forum. I don't want there to be any tie to my online persona - unless SPECIFICALLY dictated by me. This means I need 2 separate friends list: real life friends and casual friends.

John Tessin
profile image
Latest rumor I heard (love good rumors) is that Blizzard's management and staff are unhappy and that the RealID stuff is being forced on them from Activision. Isn't Activision just Vivendi's puppet?

Daniel Balmert
profile image
It's completely unethical, and I don't know why Blizzard is even legally allowed to do it. I Enter my billing information -> They store that information and use it as my "realID" -> display it on the forum if I post.



No amount of "I accept" checkboxes can make this legal. They are using the information provided ina way I never accepted, or else their Terms of Use were too vague to be legal - "We can disclose any information we want if we decide to later..." They should allow you to enter a universal handle, or at the very least re-establish your RealID when the system goes into place.

Tom Baird
profile image
@Ken

You are acting like WoW has some inordinate amount of creeps and criminals. And that you should act with a greater amount of disrespect than other interactions. Outside of the internet you use your own personal identity to interact, and I would generally assume do not fear for your life and property at every turn. Do you get angry when your name is placed in the credits of something you've made, because someone could see it and stalk you?



I get into heated debates with people and do not worry for life and property. I don't see why I should. The fact that it's on the internet instead of phone or in person really doesn't make the person on the other end any different. It's still another person I am debating. Generally the internet can be seen as more hateful and malicious than in person interaction, however I would probably credit that towards anonymity if anything. When you talk to SuperDeathMage44 you don't care about his feelings or respect his views. When you talk to Daniel Balmert you see him as someone else, who despite disagreements I can still respect that he sees differently. Because he is not anonymous and a faceless moniker, but a person.



I can't recall the name of the study, but there was one in the 60s that had students acting as anonymous wardens and inmates in a fake prison that helped demonstrate the dangers and actions that anonymity can bring, and I don't think it's fair to judge a persons actions when anonymous to their actions when recognized as a living breathing individual.

Tom Baird
profile image
Also as far as Myspace and LinkedIn making it more of an issue doesn't seem right to me.



The problem is not the name being given out, but rather that you personally chose to link that name to all your other personal information. Don't blame Video Game forums, blame Myspace and LinkedIn. Because it's not hard to get a name from someone(back when I played WoW, I think I had the names of every single guildie (about 140) and I never asked or used them, as well as being able to cross link a photo bucket ID to facebook pictures if someone ever wants to post a picture on a forum).

Ken Kinnison
profile image
Like I said, its not the limited interactions I worry about... someone sees my name in general chatter or whatever. However, how often do you get in heated debates with random people on the freeway? Or really any other social setting with random strangers? I know who I'm argueing with in most cases, and I can do things like read body language... I'm not going to go into a biker bar and overargue the merits of wearing helmets with a guy named Bear (and is the size of one) even if I keep myself completely genial.



That's great that YOU don't worry... and as for myself I generally wouldn't... but I do care about the women in my life and that guides my thoughts on this. People get angry in wow over completely 'legit' interactions. Its not that WoW players are especially unbalanced, but there are people at large who are. Would you drive home if you inadvertantly cut off a speeding car and it started following you? Would you stop and give him pleasentries? *



Hell look at the freakout videos of kids destroying their keyboards and ask yourself if you want him knowing where you live?



Let me make this clear- I don't give much care to gankers and trash mouthed forum posters or what have you. But as others have stated, policing would be far more effective than this.



In any case- the legal question has been brought up, and by and large the opinion is either 'don't care' or against it... but little FOR it. There is no opt out (other than complete quitting) and it seems like an unneccessary change to a lot of people. That alone should be enough to kill it.



'Dangerous internet people' is often overstated I admit... but I still think the negatives on this outweigh the positive.



*Where a damned helmet... jeez I kissed the pavement and was glad I had it on.

Ken Kinnison
profile image
Your other comment came in after my last-



But at least the players CHOSE to do so, I like choice. They chose to give them to you because they had a level of trust with you. Admittedly trust can always be betrayed but that would be between the betrayer and betrayed.

Meredith Katz
profile image
@Tom



Just to note, although I wouldn't say WoW has an inordinate amount of creeps and criminals, I'd assume it has a normal amount per capita, and at an ~12 million subscriber base, that's a greater population than New York City by far (for example) and rivals the most populous cities in the world. So basically, if you assume that your name is ok being shown to everyone in the entirety of New York, assume it's ok being shown to everyone in the entirety of WoW. If only 1% of WoW's subscribers are potential creeps or criminals, that's around 120,000 people. Just a bit of perspective on how a normal number of creeps can be quite a large number when shown as a percentage of an overall population.



Overall I'd err with the side of anonymity, without being pearl-clutching or alarmist about it.

Tom Baird
profile image
I don't think me and Ken Kinnison are going to agree. I really don't think it's very dangerous, and anyone who wants to know where you live will find out. For example, all of the WoW Blues had their real names posted and listed on the forums long before the gave them out. People can IP track, or can take a single link or username and reverse it until they find some location on the internet where you gave out your name. The problem is not that they can find your name, but that it's a shorter process to find your name.



And for Meredith,

I really don't have a problem with that. My name is right above my post and is available to anyone with a network connection. Gamasutra is a public forum. Facebook is also public and I can be tracked through my friends. You information online is really not private, and a WoW forum is filled with people, people who are no more statistically likely to be crazy than anywhere else. Anywhere else being where they go to get more than just your name.



Try googling your name. You are not the only entrant, and likely not the only one who could potentially play a video game. They don't track you just by your name, they use your resume, and your facebook pictures, and your blog where you may talk about playing WoW, and your LinkedIn where you are friends with someone they know on their server. And if you happen to have all those, then you've got no real reason to complain about privacy as your name on a public forum is the least of your concerns.

David Hughes
profile image
I see no negatives here. Being new to running a web column elsewhere, I know when negative comments (especially totally unconstructive ones) are coming in when people post as 'ur mom' or other "clever" pseudonyms.



Plus, Blizzard is doing something that Amazon.com implemented years back with their 'Real Name' system. In fact, they actually went another step further and will post under reviews whether someone actually bought the product they are reviewing. Transparency in identity only makes everything more civilized and infinitely more credible.



And, heck, if I'm going to be snarky, I'm not going to hide who I am. What do I care?

Meredith Katz
profile image
@Tom



Which I don't have, it's true! Nor do I play WoW. So the google results for me turn up other people, and nobody on the WoW forums would be googling me anyway. But the thing is, you're right. People will triangulate using what knowledge they have to remove false results and figure out the information for certain people.



And the thing is, the more of this is out there -- the more connections are there for people to make, like your example of blogs about playing WoW -- then the easier it is to track someone down. So if someone *doesn't want* their real name on a major location with a greater subscription base than the entire population of New York City, and which has the risk of providing those connecting details -- then why should they be forced to? How is that not a privacy concern?



By saying that if you've got some information somewhere, you might as well have more out since people can find you anyway is a fairly misleading argument. Even if I had Facebook and LinkedIn, there's a big step from the risks of that to the risks of showing your name to twelve million people, any of whom could then look for that information. You know?

Meredith Katz
profile image
Additionally, from the way that people can, in fact, google for more information when a name is in a public forum, I'd like to add the risks that come to people who aren't in the privileged majority when they're forced to use their legal names in places they'd rather obscure it. Some people have raised the risk of women being harassed (which I'm glad for, since it can be a pretty annoying, hurtful, or dangerous situation) but as well, keep in mind that beyond that there are PoCs who already have to put up with enough hurtful terminology in general about race during gaming -- it won't be improved if people who'd only know them as a pseudonym can google and specifically target with hateful terminology. Likewise gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, intersex people; likewise different religions; likewise disabled individuals -- and so on, and so on. This IS an age of information -- where someone might post a blog about their experiences transitioning, or someone else might write articles about dealing with ablism, associated with their real names, etc. But everyone wants to play games for fun and get away from the constant, well, dealing with that they have to manage all the time in life. The ability to use a pseudonym means avoiding the people who might deliberately target them for identity-related reasons; because they CAN hide the connection to a public identity.



Hell, for trans people, for example, if they're forced to use a legal name then they may have to be forced to associate with other people's gender assumptions, etc, during their "play time", just because they want to talk on forums. Just one example that immediately comes to mind.



Allowing people the right to privacy during games can allow for a separation of fan/fun/escapist 'persona' and the situations that people have to deal with every day of their life; it reduces the risk of targeted harassment, and so on.



Some people have no reason to care if people know their legal name and everything associated with it. Other people do, and for good reasons.

Tom Baird
profile image
You say being on Facebook is different than showing your name to twelve million people, but Facebook itself has 400 million active users, 50% of which login daily (http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics). Any of those people can look at that information, and any of those people can either search by name, or by likes and dislikes or by location, or by friends, or by affiliated groups, or by hobbies.



I will concede that the more out there the worse it is. But at the same time the RealID concern is only a concern because of every other companies privacy breaches. People want to share their information with the world, but then gets upset when the world uses that information.



As soon as you opt out of the other major privacy breaches the RealID becomes a non-issue. And that does not work the other way around(people can still facebook track you without you having a WoW account). That causes me to want to mark the issue as being an issue with social networking and not with real names on forums.

Meredith Katz
profile image
@Tom



Again, I don't use Facebook myself, so I can't speak authoritatively, but I believe that you can set privacy levels and comment in friended private facebooks and so on and still interact with others, rather than a completely public forum? Though do tell me if I'm wrong about this. Either way, yeah, it wouldn't be a concern if the info wasn't already out there, but the more it's out there, in the more places, it's still more of a problem. I'd argue that tying your "fun and games" into your social network is more risky than NOT doing so -- especially when they're suggesting the RealIDs are as a measure to counter trolling, since they know how prevalent trolling IS on the forums.

Ben Shutt
profile image
One important thing to note is that anything you post in a forum is permanent, and anyone can find anything you have ever said by just looking at your profile. You may easily give out your name in real life, but would you give it out so freely if you knew that they could read everything you've ever said? In real life if you tick a random person off with a comment, you probably will never see that person again, and they may forget your name by the next day. On a forum, though, they can look up the post where you said that comment and easily find out your name and keep track of you.

Jose Enrique D'Arnaude
profile image
24 hours after the announcement Mike Morhaime posted that they are stepping back on this decision.


none
 
Comment: