The big deal right now within the WoWosphere (that’s totally a new word I just invented) is your RealID being attached to any forum posts you make on the official forums. This isn’t live yet, but it will be in a few weeks time for Starcraft 2, and it will be in place for the launch of Cataclysm.
Like about 95% of the rest of the WoW populace who’ve commented about this, I think it’s a really, really bad idea.
For one, I think ActivisionBlizzard have allowed themselves to become a victim of their own hubris. Sure, WoW is the most popular MMO in the world. But is it really the game that everyone plays? The game for the masses? I’m not quite so sure really. I still think the bulk of the WoW playing populace are, well, seasoned gamers. There may be a lot of people for whom WoW is there first ever game but I think that number is pretty slim, and always will be. WoW is astill a pretty hardcore experience. There’s a lot fo grinding, and raiding is still severely complicated. This isn’t Farmville, Kotick. No matter how much you want it to be.
And that means that most of WoW’s populace are probably at least somewhat tech savvy internet veterans, and they value their privacy. Furthermore, consider the people who use your forums. Chances are they do so right now exactly because these forums allow them a modicum of anonymity. And while this can be used for nefarious purposes – trolling, flamewars, etc – anonymity is also great at getting valuable, intelligent people to come out of their shells. To stick their neck out.
Will they be sticking theirs out after this change goes through? Odds are, no. Will flaming and trolling still happen? Odds are, yes. Anonymity may turn otherwise normal people into trolls, but here’s the thing : Real trolls don’t care. Real trolls troll because, well, they have shitty personalities. That’s just baked in. Casting aside the veil of internet secrecy isn’t going to change that.
I haven’t come this close to cancelling my ‘subsrciption (ie not buying any more game cards) in a while. It’s not even so much about the forums, since I rarely post there, and could probably get by never visiting them ever again. The problem is, it highlights a disregard for the wishes of it’s clientele that appears to have been growing within Blizzard, suspiciously ever since the Activision merger.
So I won’t lie. I would quit right now if it weren’t for the contacts I’ve built up within the game. And Blizzard knows that. Hence RealID in the first place. But here’s the thing – you can’t copyright someone else’s name. And once I have my cadre, my crew, its’ actually quite easy to walk away, and take them with me.
Especially if they feel the same way I do.
And I’m betting right now that most of them are.
You’ve just crossed a terrible threshold, Blizzard. Like Arthas, in your blind zeal pursuing one single goal, you’ve lost sight of what really mattered in the first place. And you have, in the process, become the enemy.
What hubris. What irony.
There’s no coming back from that.