Under pressure, Blizzard gives 'real ID' policy the chop

StarCraft II and World of Warcraft message board goers will not be required to post with their real names after all

Blizzard gives real ID policy the chop

Blizzard gives real ID policy the chop

Whether gutsy, forward-thinking, or just plain scatterbrained, Blizzard's plans to force you to use your real name when posting to the company's official forums have been shelved just three days after the company announced them.

In a forum statement dispatched this morning, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaine explained that the company had listened to player feedback (broadly negative) and reconsidered the matter internally.

"As a result of those discussions," wrote Morhaine, "we've decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums."

The response was instant and overwhelming: Hundreds of kudos, ranging from enthusiastic thank-you's to grateful albeit more reserved acceptance. While the former were unreservedly jubilant, the latter seem to view Blizzard's move as temporary damage control after the original decision on Tuesday triggered waves of caustic disdain.

"You should never, ever place much trust in a corporation," wrote one user of the course reversal. "It's a purely business relationship (at least for them) and it always will be."

"They're not changing [the name display policy] for now. They might in the future. They can't deliver in absolutes because no company is stupid enough to give absolutes."

"What baffles me is that they thought we wanted this garbage in the first place," wrote another, likening the issue to simple misguidance. "I do have [F]acebook and I use it sparingly to keep in touch with a couple of my friends from college and the like.

"I do not use it to keep in touch with my gaming friends. I use...games and Ventrilo to keep in touch with my gaming friends. Duh, Blizzard, duh."

Real ID will remain an optional feature on the gaming side, as planned, wrote Morhaine. It's already live in World of Warcraft, and the same opt-in system will grace StarCraft II's interface when Blizzard's sci-fi real-time strategy game launches later this month.

Specifically, when the new StarCraft II boards go live, Morhaine says you'll post with your StarCraft II Battle.net character name plus character code, not your real name, as previously planned. The same will apply to Blizzard's Cataclysm forums when they launch in tandem with the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion.

While that solves Blizzard's suddenly unpleasant image problem, it's probably not the end of it. "Over time, we will continue to evolve Real ID on Battle.net to add new and exciting functionality within our games for players who decide to use the feature," wrote Morhaine.

Translation? Rule nothing out, long term.

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Matt Peckham

PC World (US online)
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