Blizzard back-flip on real name requirement

David or Goliath?

Just when you thought that your opinion didn’t count, Blizzard come along and show that someone’s still listening to you.

They’ve been all over the gaming news this week for their decision which made it compulsory for gamers to use their real names when posting on their game forums (that means anything to do with WoW, StarCraft, Diablo or Warcraft, by the way).

The plan was to increase integration of their new Real ID system, part of the social features of the revamped Battle.net. It also, allegedly, would decrease trolls and spammers on the forums… but gamers didn’t see it that way. People started getting a little upset over the loss of their privacy, and before too long, it appeared that this, and not another game, may be the fabled WoW-killer we’d been fearing. Simply put – gamers were not happy with Blizzard‘s decision, and they made very sure that everybody (involved with the game or not) heard about it.

…today though, company CEO and co-founder, Mike Morhaime, has come out with an open letter, “regarding real names in forums”. We’ve got it here for you to read – but the tl;dr version is: “we’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.”

StarCraft - Sarah Kerrigan Statue

Kerrigan approves.

Read on for their explanations, plans for the future, and the assurance that – sometimes – Big Business really does listen to their fans.

Subject: Open letter regarding real names on Blizzard forums

Hello everyone,

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 forums that include these new features, you will be posting by your StarCraft Battle.net 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.

I want to make sure it’s clear that our plans for the forums are completely separate from our plans for the optional in-game Real ID system now live with World of Warcraft and launching soon with StarCraft. We believe that the powerful communications functionality enabled by Real ID, such as cross-game and cross-realm chat, make Battle.net a great place for players to stay connected to real-life friends and family while playing Blizzard games. And of course, you’ll still be able to keep your relationships at the anonymous, character level if you so choose when you communicate with other players in game. 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.

In closing, I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that Every Voice Matters, and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games. We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard‘s success from the beginning.

Mike Morhaime
CEO & Cofounder
Blizzard Entertainment

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