Blizzard Real ID system sparks controversy

World of Warcraft maker limiting forum posting, cross-game chat, other features to those who sign up using their real names; user outcry thread tops 30,000 posts.


Blizzard boasts one of the largest and most engaged user communities of any developer in the world. The benefits of such a following are obvious, but the downside becomes similarly stark when the company runs afoul of its user base.

Grizzled space marine, real name: Quincy Featherbottom.
Grizzled space marine, real name: Quincy Featherbottom.

The company yesterday unveiled its new Real ID system, a service that allows friends to easily follow each other's activities in Blizzard games like World of Warcraft. It also introduces cross-game chat and social networking features that allow users to see not just their friends, but also their friends' friends.

However, Blizzard is requiring users to register for the service with their real names. And beginning with the Starcraft II message boards this month, the developer is changing its forums to require users to post under their Real ID names. Blizzard fans expressing privacy concerns--as well as those dismissing such worries--have flocked to the company's still-anonymous official forums, combining to produce more than 30,000 messages in a 1,500-pages-long thread.

"The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players," a Blizzard representative posted in a separate thread explaining the changes. "However, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild. Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before."

While the Starcraft II forums will undergo the switch to Real ID this month, other Blizzard forums will have some time before the switchover. The World of Warcraft forums are expected to require Real ID around the time of the Cataclysm expansion's launch later this year.

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Avatar image for Micropanic

If you don't like it, don't post! Simplez!

Avatar image for tobygjohnson

@ZzZEVOLUTIONZzZ Your first and last name are everywhere, people can find it by looking up the number plate on your car, by looking through a phone book, reading the births / deaths section of the newspaper, going on facebook or linkedin, myspace, gmail. I mean my name even appears on my work's website, as do millions of people's, have you ever been to a university's website? To steal somebodies identity you need more than a first and last name, i don't think credit card companies are quite that stupid and if they are well then they deserve to be scammed.

Avatar image for mautics

@LarryMo No brother, I don't think you read it properly. Now that SC2 has launched, take a look at the forums. You don't post with your first / last name. It goes by your screen name, but only your real ID friends see your full name.

Avatar image for raejie

another Blizzard's masterpiece! Still waiting for Diablo III.

Avatar image for Solon_Jhee

@ Flat_Line______ Good find lol. I'm glad they reconsidered.

Avatar image for Flat_Line_____

And then I read this.... << LINK REMOVED >> Lol, my bad...

Avatar image for Flat_Line_____

I bet Celebrities get special privileges. Guess anyone could use any name they want. Hmmm..... What happens when people start RealIDentity theft? There has to be no limit on how many people have the same name if they are going to be realistic about it. But how could you really tell who is who? And I like the idea of some kind of identification link to your behavior and actions online. Because how many kids are going to maybe think twice now before they harrass others that they know in real life but can't hide behind the anonymity of the internet? Then again, they could just use fake names I suppose... So what IS the point in all of this exactly??

Avatar image for tiusej1

if you're being stalked by someone, it should be very easy to locate them since they're registered under their real name. I am actually in favor of lifting the veil of anonymity. I think releasing that veil will decrease the amount of possibile negative exploitations that already exist.

Avatar image for npotter2485

when they do this there going to lose maybe half there blogers im betting

Avatar image for girlgam3r

This has been resolved. See << LINK REMOVED >>:// on the Blizzard forums

Avatar image for girlgam3r

I'm going to be upfront and honest and say as a female, I had a stalker in game! I also run a very professional business that I do not need immature players that take things to heart getting pissed off at me about a game and tracking me, my kids, and my business down. After discussion my husband and I agreed that I do not use my real name, but my middle name instead. I find this REAL ID issue a SERIOUS privacy matter and I will be happy to go to court to defend my identity (and other people's identity) if this happens. I am NOT happy!

Avatar image for iowastate

why do they insist on fixing something that was not broken?

Avatar image for Dudewrsmygame

That's why my facebook account has a fake name(What if i'm paranoid?).

Avatar image for lazybear79

@darkrundus Count yourself special. My name turns up 13 in my state alone. 8 with the middle initial.

Avatar image for Jebril

Not everyone likes their real names to be shown on the internet, several reasons why. 1. Privacy I don't want people to know who I actually am because I play a certain game or post on a certain forum thank you, I'd like to control who knows who I really am and who doesn't. If I like you enough I'll tell you my real name on my own, if not why would I leave my name out there for anyone and leave myself vulnerable to identity theft and harassment? 2. The concept of anonymous breaks racism and prejudice, when you don't know someone's name is Tyshawn Williams or Arjun Patel you won't automatically start assuming stereotypes about the person and actually get to know them for who they really are. 3. People don't like to be themselves because of society, true story.

Avatar image for mbchfdh2

I really don't see what the problem is. Can someone explain to me? Not being a PC gamer, maybe I'm missing something.

Avatar image for Fynnon

Maybe they want my shoes number as well... Hey Blizzard, do you wanna know my **** size?

Avatar image for Angel_Belial

Check it out everyone - they have decided NOT to do this now!!!: << LINK REMOVED >> Well, that was a quick turnaround!

Avatar image for mrzero1982pt2

hence the reason i stopped playing.

Avatar image for darkrundus

@lazybear79 I used just my name and state in the directory and ended up with 2 results, both of which were my current address. Expanding it out to include the whole country leaves my with two other people with my name so it wouldn't be that difficult for somebody who felt like it to track me down by my Real I.D. especially if it includes middle initial as then I'm the only one once more.

Avatar image for LarryMo

@yukikaze8721 You don't really think this will stop the trolling do you?

Avatar image for mindaz3

...and the next step will be: they will implement this system to the game. Imagine, you see an Orc with nick John Smith and when you move mouse cursor over him, window will po-up with additional information: name: John Smith, Location: London GB, sex: male, hobbies: all day playing wow. Don't be surprised if it come true one day. Internet supposed to be your second your life with another unique identity.

Avatar image for yukikaze8721

yay no more trolls. trolls are coward and hide behind their fake name. privacy? how many people using their real name on facebook? does it change anything?

Avatar image for uberjannie

Yes get rid of all the flame-kids.

Avatar image for Astaritobril

@majere613 - Most peoples real names are already on the net anyway. All you have to do is look. It's not always, would your RealID be T** P****? I'm sure my name is out there as well. I think it's a good idea, but I'm not on message boards flaming users either. I don't know. This could work out. If they get enough push back, it will go away. I'll wait to see what happens.

Avatar image for 24k_Solid_Gold

"I have a bad feeling about this..."

Avatar image for majere613

Thinking about it, this might just keep me away from Diablo 3. If I'm going to have to plaster my real name all over the net just to voice an opinion on the only forum there's any chance at all the devs might read, the appeal drops a notch right there. It's also important to realise that the RealID will NOT prevent people from being massive douches, it'll just deter them from revealing the fact on the forum. If you say something about Warlocks that they don't like, they don't need to post a damn thing, but they can see who you are and you'd better hope your name is Fred Smith and not Xavier C Pumpbucket. Of course, it also won't stop in-game griefing unless it's easy to find someone's real name by their character name and server. And if that IS easy, congratulations Blizzard, you just made it easy for angry people who've just lost ten Arena matches in a row to the same team to find out who the people are who just schooled them in real life. That's going to play out well.

Avatar image for linkdarkside

i would never go to a forum ,like that.

Avatar image for SauhlGood

"and that only on US forums!" -gamercosti cuz the rest of the world knows how to behave lol

Avatar image for Matt_Night

I respect blizzard a lot, but this here idea fails big time.

Avatar image for gamercosti

and that only on US forums!

Avatar image for gamercosti

2400 pages :)

Avatar image for Cythwydd

up past 2200 pages as of last night

Avatar image for Darkreaper_1

And what stops somebody from submitting a false name?

Avatar image for iiIsSueZ

I feel sorry for all those secret Warcraft players. Now their friends are going to know they're a loser for sure.

Avatar image for Phooey442

haha so many making a big deal over this...i love the idea keep those little troll kids away. this scares me about as much as having my name in the phonebook....

Avatar image for Nugget314

I never had a problem with gamer names why change it? I mean if you have a friend playing Starcraft 2 he will tell you his gamer name and you can play with him no need for real names.

Avatar image for tequilasunriser

What sucks is if this goes through and you happen to say the wrong thing online under your real name it could adversely affect your career, school, etc., for those institutions that like to keep tabs on their employees/students online using search engines. No go for me. If this is around when Diablo 3 rolls out I'll keep my posts on Gamefaqs.

Avatar image for Nzilla

I'm a little torn on this one. On the one hand I agree that if your real name is put next to your forum posts you're probably less likely to be a jerk. That being said, I won't be posting anything with my real name up there. Posting under a gamer tag is one thing, putting my name up for billions of people to see, not a step i'm ready to take. Even if what I post is rational and thought provoking. (praise, money, panties accepted)

Avatar image for HK-Ghost

"Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations" I think this representative's position is shaky (at best). If/when someone wants to flame, he/she will do so with or without their real names. I'm sure they're familiar with those who do the same thing in school and college campuses..

Avatar image for Soccer8642

How STUPID!!!!!!!!! It is a huge invasion of privacy. Many people do not want their real name on the internet, and there's very good reason for it. They have no way of policing it, except to delete names that are Obviously false. I have a very rare and distinctive last name, and i'm 99.9% sure I'm the only person in the world with my first and last name. I do NOT want it posted all over the internet. (and you will have noticed, i'm not saying what it is here) I will be signing up as John Smith

Avatar image for scryren

Fair enough. I'll be registering as Bobby Kotick then.

Avatar image for Tentaculat

Blizzard should just apologize and try to play it off as a joke or something and as a reward, change the troll dance to the troll dance of the video in Zerkrender's post.

Avatar image for Shardz7

It looks like Bobby Koklick and company are finally rubbing off on Blizzard with these ideas that are so crass and ridiculous that it makes your head spin. You aren't getting my personal info here, you ain't getting it there, and screw anyone else who wants it to spam me to death in the future. No, this has to stop now. I have had the same user name at since Diablo 1 came out and I am not changing it now to appease corporate idiots like Koklick who think they know what they are doing. Blizzard - you lost a sale with this idea.

Avatar image for Pitlord3

why not give a fake name Oliver Klozov

Avatar image for Zamphere88

I keep seeing people talking about how credit card names have to be the same as the account name... From what I can tell this is not true due to I currently have my friends account that he no longer plays and my credit card definitely doesn't have his name on it

Avatar image for downloadthefile

It's not just the forums, its your friends list....friends of your friends can see your name, and believe me the people who want to get back at you will find a way to know your real name. So let's see: 1) $15 map pack 2) Real ID Two great Activision decisions from the man who wants to take the fun out of making video games. Thanks Bobby Kotick!

Avatar image for Cowpie08

@UnderQuarantine I agree with you, some mentally unstable people CAN take advantage of your real name and Facebook you to exact revenge. But isn't that why they have privacy settings on Facebook? You can choose not to display your address and other private info. The Internet overall is a dangerous place, you gotta know how to protect yourself.

Avatar image for UnderQuarantine

It would be GREAT to get rid of all the trolls but the fact is that if you annoy someone who is close-minded with their opinions and you get into an argument, they can easily track down your facebook page and from then, well you get the picture. Name + Internet + Geeky Socially Inept D*ckheads = Bad News