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Blizzard Backs off Forcing Users to Post under Real Names

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It seemed like and interesting, albeit controversial decision. In order to clean up its forums, Blizzard was planning on requiring its users to use their real names when posting. The system is called RealID, and it was planned on being released on July 27 for World of Warcraft, and it would come as part of Starcraft II, which is set to release the same day.

It would be an understatement of massive proportions to say that the announcement did not go down well.

On the official World of Warcraft forum, a single thread discussing upcoming changes to the forum currently has nearly 2,500 pages with 43,480 replies, and well over a half a million views, and it is just the biggest of several threads.

Some posters were unperturbed by the possibility of revealing their real names, including the member “Malistra”, who posted:

“Thank you! <3

I dread coming to these forums, some days. If this has the chance to end some of the pointless flame wars and trolling, I’m all for it!”

The vast majority, however, were wildly opposed. Including the poster “Yvnel”, who had reasonable, although possibly a bit paranoid reasoning:

“As said by the people before me, RealID is a dangerous idea because it provides easy access to sensitive information, such as your real name. No one expects to be hunted down, just like that guy who got stabbed over a Counter Strike duel. Full anonymity on that one, yet he was still found and knifed to the chest. What more if they have your name? Fun times, I’m sure.”

Others like “Zasmei” had legitimate concerns regarding privacy:

“Another thing that bothers me about this is that I don’t always want people to know I’m female when I post on threads. I don’t want to be judged because I’m female and I bet I could guarantee facebook requests if I posted and people saw my real name. My name is unique and it wouldn’t be hard to find me.”

Others still, like the poster “Restauro”, seem to have seen it in a more Orwellian framework:

“This is a scare tactic to silence dissent. It’s also the most compelling reason to cancel a World of Warcraft account that I’ve seen to date. Not to mention that it would cause me to second guess purchasing any other Blizzard products. “

Although it seems somewhat unlikely that Blizzard is out to “silence dissent,” it is hard to ignore that the World of Warcraft community, a group that seldom can agree on anything from the best way to lead a raid, to the best way to kill tree druids, seem to have united behind the idea that RealID is a bad idea. And apparently Blizzard listened.

A Blizzard employee and forum staple “Nethaera” posted this earlier today, confirming that RealID was no longer planned:

“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 the ability to rate posts up or down, post highlighting based on rating, 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 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.”

So breathe easy World of Warcraft fans, your voices have been heard and the RealID beast has been slain, raid–style. Feel free to collect your experience points anytime.

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Ryan Fleming
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Fleming is the Gaming and Cinema Editor for Digital Trends. He joined the DT staff in 2009 after spending time covering…
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