Thursday, July 8, 2010

The RealID Controversy

I wasn't going to weigh in on this topic because it's everywhere now, but I do feel strongly about it. Basically, Blizzard is going to be implementing new forums for Wow that will launch with Cataclysm, which will display your real first and last name on every post.

I've read a few blue posts and I'm quite shocked that Blizzard hasn't taken a huge back step after the overwhelmingly negative response (see threads here and here for a taste) they've received. It seems to me that they have a great and flowery vision of the future and are doggedly trying to make it happen, despite what the actual merits of the idea may be.

Let's look at some of the pros and cons then.

1. There will be less trolling. Fewer pointless posts and less nastiness are always good things.
2. There will be less posting overall. Many people will not want to assign their real name to their posts and thus will not post. This means the forums will be smaller and much easier to maintain. Which leads me to my next pro...
3. The forums will be much easier to police.
4. The tone of the forums will likely change to be more civil and polite.

1. There will be less trolling. Some trolls (admittedly few) are actually pretty funny, and can be quite insightful.
2. There will be less posting overall. The forums will be smaller and less interesting, therefore becoming less reliable for information and/or entertainment. People will go elsewhere and look for other communities.
3. Less ad revenue for Blizzard when people go elsewhere. The only reason I care about this is because I happen to quite like Wow and want the company that runs it to stay afloat.
4. I don't care what someone's real name is. I quote, "anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID -- that is, their real-life first and last name -- with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it." I don't care what John Smith has to say about mage spell rotations but I do care what Merlin the mage from the top guild on Blackrock server says. This idea is not precisely a con, but just made little sense to me. When you post, you MUST display your real first and last name but it's only optional to display your character name? Of course anyone posting about mage tactics will add their mage toon's name to their post, but I would have thought that, especially if Blizzard wants to encourage accountability, they would also make the display of a toon's name compulsory. After all, in game, I don't know who John Smith is but I might know who Merlin is.

But I digress, and I think that's a hint that I'm done with my pros and cons list.

Overall, I think this is a very poorly thought-out, slapped-together idea. Blizz has their hearts in the right place, but just haven't thought this through.

Perhaps this is an indication that Blizz no longer want to have to maintain huge fan forums? Perhaps this is an invitation for someone else to start an unofficial forum hub? Depending on how you think about it, that could either be very short-sighted or a very smart, future-oriented business decision. After all, Wow can't last forever and this would free up Blizzard staff to work on other projects.

I guess we'll wait and see. :)

1 comment:

  1. I simply won't use the system. But it sucks immensely since WoW forums are an integral part of recruiting.