Monday, July 12, 2010

On RealID

I guess I'll throw my little hat into the ring.

I'm not going to revisit what has happened - if you're reading me, chances are really, really good that you already know what I'm talking about.  Every blogger under the sun has had their opinion, most in the three days (give or take) before Blizzard backed off.

I hadn't written anything to this point, because, honestly, I didn't have words to describe what I felt, and truthfully, there are several bloggers that have already written pieces that express the ideas better than I ever could.  But I'll try anyway, and hope it does some good, for somebody.

When I first heard about RealID, it was only as a chat functionality upgrade, which I viewed as a neat tool that I might, at some point, take advantage of - purely for my closest real life friends - especially the ones that I expect to be playing quite a bit of Starcraft 2.  But nothing sinister... then came the blue post.

The proposed changes would most likely not have affected me personally.  As a general rule, I don't bother even looking at the official WoW forums except when a blue post is brought to my attention that I really think it might be useful to see.  Since blue posts are generally quoted whole in the places where I find them, the need to see them in the original context is normally unnecessary anyway, and I think I've posted on the forums an entirety of (maybe) one time.

When I first read about the changes as they were explained, my response was relatively indifferent...  I felt that it was a generally idiotic idea, but as I said, it didn't truthfully affect me anyway.  It was only after some (not long) time reflecting that I realized the true gravity of the situation.  It was a terrible idea, one which should not have ever passed beyond the walls of Blizzard's offices.  The fact that it did has damaged the company's reputation amongst the people it values most - its paying customers.

The attempt to force players to use their real names on the official forums showed a shortsightedness by Blizzard with respect to the safety and security of their playerbase.  The interim - however brief - in which they dared to suggest that they would force players to use it but not their own employees (due to SAFETY concerns, no less!) approaches an unacceptable breach of trust, a break from reality in which Blizzard seemed as if they were trying to play puppet master by forcing players to dance on strings that they themselves were not willing to accept.

I personally think the incident with poor Bashiok proved that they were out of touch with the reality of the Internet that allows their business model to function.

That Blizzard recanted their decision has - somewhat - restored faith in them and their commitment to providing their users with a safe and fun game to play.

Unfortunately, as Tesh commented on the BBB's post, the real concern I still have is that while Round 1 apparently goes to the little guys, Blizzard has committed to turning their gaming universe into a social network of sorts, and they will not let a little setback like this prevent them from getting their way - so, the war's not over.

I generally agree with the goals that they were attempting to achieve when they made the decision to move forward with this; it is my sincere hope that when they decide on another course of action to use to clean up the forums, they do a sanity check before they alienate a (relatively) large portion of their playerbase by announcing an idea so idiotic it produced a thread over 2000 pages long.

In the meantime, I'm going back to killing Internet Dragons.

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