BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT has stepped down from its controversial decision to enforce the use of RealID on the popular Battle.net and World of Warcraft forums.
This policy was set to go into effect with the launch of the StarCraft II forums on July 27th, and would have displayed users’ real-life first and last names on all forum posts and replies.
“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,” said Blizzard community manager Danielle Vanderlip (aka Nethaera) in an announcement post.
The decision was intended to combat the Blizzard community’s “reputation as a place where fl ame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild” in the belief that increased accountability would discourage negative posting.
Vanderlip went on to compare the decision with social networking sites and expressed the company’s desire to “ensure Battle.net is equipped to handle the ever-changing, social-gaming experience for years to come”.
The announcement prompted privacy fears amongst large sections of the gaming world, notably from female World of Warcraft players, minorities, and – with an increased employer focus on using the Web to research prospective employees – job seekers.
After three days of furious debate and public outcry, Blizzard CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime backed down on the controversial policy and posted an open letter on the World of Warcraft forums.
“We’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on offi cial Blizzard forums,” Morhaime said. “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 II.”
While the problems endemic to online communities are yet to be solved, privacyconcerned World of Warcraft and (upcoming) StarCraft II players can rest at ease