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Blizzard Retracts Real ID Forum Policy Amid Uproar

Blizzard Retracts Real ID Forum Policy Amid Uproar

July 9, 2010 | By Kris Graft

July 9, 2010 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

Just days after World of Warcraft developer Blizzard Entertainment said it would require its customers to use their real names in their online forums, CEO Mike Morhaime has retracted the policy.

The new policy, which was to go into effect on the launch of StarCraft II later this month, caused an uproar among Blizzard's message board community. Blizzard unveiled the policy on Tuesday this week.

"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," said Morhaime in a forum post. "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."

The Real ID feature was meant to "Remov[e] the veil of anonymity typical to online dialog" in an effort to encourage "a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven't been connected before," Blizzard said earlier this week.

But the large majority of posters were against the move, with many citing privacy issues, and concerns that anyone on the internet could use the full names provided by Real ID as a starting point to find more sensitive information about Blizzard users. The announcement of the measure brought tens of thousands of replies to Blizzard forums, and the studio told Gamasutra that it was definitely listening to player feedback.

While the Real ID feature meant that Blizzard forum users would have to use their real names, players wouldn't have to use real identities in-game when using the gaming network. But if they did use Real ID in games like World of Warcraft or StarCraft II, they would have more access to community features like cross-game and cross-realm chat.

Morhaime said Blizzard will take other measures to continue to improve the forum experience, which like most popular message boards can often be plagued by trolls and spammers. "However, when we launch the new StarCraft II forums that include these new features, you will be posting by your StarCraft II character name [and] character code, not your real name," he said. "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."

He also expressed appreciation for the quick and vocal feedback from the game's players. "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, 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."

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