The Aftermath of Real ID

The Aftermath of Real ID

It’s not going away as it’s already been integrated into the game. At least we won’t get our real identities attached to the forums. Personally, I don’t post on the forums that often. When I do post on forums, it’s usually to advertise that my guild is recruiting players (an absolute, shameless plug I might add).

I can’t pretend to know what the full storyline was behind the closed doors of Blizzard. I am a little worried about the direction that this network is going. I don’t have an issue with the idea of Real ID. I think the ability to communicate across platforms and servers is a great idea. But greater control over who can and cannot be on a friend’s list is needed.

Now as for the forums, that idea has been shelved (at least temporarily). That’s not to say that one day it isn’t possible for that to thrive. In order for that to happen though, we need to exist in some super utopian society where stalking and harassment simply cannot occur at all. That day is a long time away. We probably won’t ever live to see it.

A compromise

I do think Blizzard might’ve been on to something though when they set off on implementing a united ID of sorts for players. I might have different characters on my World of Warcraft account, a Starcraft 2 account and potentially a Diablo 3 account. Perhaps I don’t want to go through the hassle of logging in and out everytime I want to switch game forums. Having the forums display first and last name is (obviously) a very bad idea.


But what about a handle that’s universal? That would work. For example, I could apply Matticus as my universal handle and whenever I’d post something, it could attach my chosen character name (like Matticus [Mallet] or something). Haven’t quite thought of all the negatives yet and there’s bound to be some, but I know it won’t generate such an uproar across the entire forums blogosphere community internet.

realid-bbc realid-msnbc

But most importantly…


(High five to anyone who reads this blog who is also a Reddit reader)

Posting employee info was wrong though

One thing I did not agree with at all was when certain individuals took it upon themselves to just publically post information about their names, their jobs, their addresses, pictures of their family and so forth. Personally, I felt that action crossed some line. I don’t know, maybe it’s my idea of ethics and my time in school which taught me better. Actual implementation (if it happened) wouldn’t have been for a couple of weeks. Many arguments across the internet already raised the privacy issues. I just don’t think it was the right thing to do. I mean these guys are developers and people who work on the game in some aspect of it too. They’re the architects of the world we love. Do we really want to threaten them and run them out of a job (or possibly worse than that)?

Like, I don’t need to see a nuke go off to know it’ll level a city.

I do know that a number of players voted with immediately cancelling their subscriptions (and some closed their accounts). That’s probably the better way to go especially if it’s something that affects you on such a personal level like this.

Did anyone really like the change? I mean really?


Those are most likely not the official numbers, but I generated them purely based off of Twitter, blogs, opinion pieces and people I spoke with. For sure, a solid majority of the community was strongly against it. There were some individuals who felt indifferent or gave off the “doesn’t bother me, I don’t care vibe”. But, I was hard pressed to really find anyone who was seriously gung ho and all for it.

Or maybe I just didn’t look hard enough.

Anyway, my point does sort of stand. You were either against it or felt indifferent. Not many (if any) truly embraced it.

Why the UFM policy doesn’t work

“I don’t like that you’re clogging up my twitter timeline with your junk”

“I don’t want to get spoiled by <some upcoming expansion>”

“You don’t talk enough about warriors” <- (Yeah, I know. I actually had someone tell me this.)

UFM basically means Unfollow Me. I have a twitter policy in place simply because I’ve had former followers who disapproved or disliked aspects of my tweets or personality. Following is a volunteer action. If you don’t like someone on twitter, you do not have to follow them.

And this was the logic provided by players who weren’t really affected by the ramifications of Real ID.

“If you don’t want your name shown on the forums, then don’t post”

For the most part, that was the exact solution I was going to use.

Ultimately though, the carpet bombing solution would lock out a lot of productive individuals who contribute guides, advice, or other beneficial things to the forums. The cost-benefit ratio is greatly skewed where it becomes way too costly. The rewards did not even come close to exceeding the risk. Players who troll are going to troll anyway.

For the vast majority of us, I like to think that we’re all level headed, reasonable individuals. Looking someone up, tracing their location or phone number, and making menacing phone calls or threats? Hey, you just crossed over to criminal territory. Yeah that guy you’re calling up may be the biggest douche bag on the forums, but right now, you’d be the one that’d face jail time or fines or some other form of punishment.

It’s something I learned (and somehow still remember) from my criminology courses. Someone who is going to shoplift a product is probably going to do it anyway regardless of the consequences. The main reason that stores have cameras, store personnel, bars on windows and so forth is to act as a form of deterrence for the rest of us normal, civilized people.

In any case, it’s all over with. It’s done.

At least for now.

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.


  1. One of the things I wonder is how many people (from amongst the Real ID Apologists) who gave out their personal information checked it out with the people they lived with first. Did Baishok check it out with his family before he all but said ‘bring it on’? As well as a ton of other players who put their names out there.

    Personally I would be ecstatic to see a Steam-like system in place. I’ve only recent joined the steam community and I absolutely love it, it is a great system. Not without it’s faults (e.g. regional pricing and conflict of interest) but pretty damn awesome all the same.

  2. I believe Spouse Aggro was defending this quite vehemently. At least they were very much against the protesters.

    However I agree on your estimation about 80 percent against it. And I actually think this isn’t just about a vocal minority being against it, the silent mass thinking it’s a good idea. If you look at the discussions in our guild forums, where we’re just two bloggers and the rest non-bloggers, everyone was very much against it. It’s a bit strange how out-of-touch with the fanbase they were in their first decision.

  3. One aspect of the aftermath is a considerable volume of complaints to government agencies.

    I sent Blizzard a request to remove my personal information from their records and received back a form email stating telling me about last week’s U-turn. That’s illegal here. If a client sends a request to a company to remove personal data they have to comply under European law. You can’t just fob them off with an opinion that it’s not a big deal anymore.

    In addition to myself I’ve read quite a significant number of other players who have reported Blizzard to privacy watchdogs. They will receive a rather sharp education in worldwide privacy laws over the coming months.

  4. Hey Matticus, I just wanted to say two quick thing.

    I don’t think posting a recruitment thread for your guild on official forums is in the least bit shameless. It is a tool to be leveraged as we see fit, as long as we follow the ToS and don’t post anything derogatory, inflammatory or downright stupid.

    Second, I think your idea of a “universal handle” is quite smart. But it has a potential drawback. The U.S. alone has over 210 servers for WoW. Imagine if everyone wanted “Legolas”. It’s bad enough with “Leggolass” and “xxxLegolasxxx” right now, what happens when the number of players increase by over 210 times the amount?

    I think the idea can be expanded further. One of the MMOs that I think had a brilliant system was Champions Online. Your name was always your chosen nick at the rate of your account name. Now as long as you chose your account name to be something generic, you were in the clear. In-game, if I was on Bronte, my name would pop up as “Bronte@theelementals”, if I was on Pantheon, I would show up as “Pantheon@theelementals”. I think that is a more intuitive solution that allows you to not only pick any name you want, but always identify the person behind the avatar, without divulging any personal information.

    • @Bronte: Actually I was referring to the shameless plug on my own blog for more players ^^. But yes, I didn’t put a lot of thought into the universal ID aspect. Figured I’d just throw something out there and let you and others dissect or help refine it further.

      – Laygolass619

  5. I was both appalled and amused at the Blizzard employees getting their information shown. It’s not right, on all accounts but there was a tiny, immature part of me wanting to say, “Serves them right!”.

    I’m really glad they decided not to do it. I don’t think people should have to choose not to post on the forums, just to not show their personal information.

  6. I still don’t know why Blizzard just does not ban people from the forums for trolling. The sad thing is there are some really good and informative posts that can derailed all the time.

  7. Nice post, Matt. Personally, I’m just glad the whole thing has died down and Blizzard are no longer planning to utilise it on their forums. Not just because of the obvious privacy issues it brings there but moreso because of the door it opens.

    We forget that these companies (especially ones like Facebook which Blizzard has now done a deal with) has access to a huge amount of information about each of us. Blizzard + Facebook = complete knowledge of your entire life essentially, everything from where you live, your credit card info, what school you went to, your likes/dislikes etc. This is info that should never be abused and, frankly, needs to be regulated by our governments to stop it from ever happening. Taking away our choice in anonymity is just the first step in the wrong direction.

  8. I don’t know why a unique handle is SUCH a problem idea for Bliz/Activision to wrap their heads around.

    Yes, Seam is a nice piece of existing technology, but there’s a bigger, older platform wide, multi-game system that’s been in place for several (7?) years that is controlled, private, allows microtransactions up the wazooo, and is owned and operated by probably the largest, most $$$ driven software company on the planet:

    XBOX Live.

    And they do something that seems fundamentally “normal” that always makes me feel odd about its lack in WoW: if you want to have someone as a friend, they need to approve it. You can’t just add them.

  9. Araquen says:

    I thought the RealID thing was foolish even in game. Perfect example: there’ was an ex-guildie of mine who…well, let’s just say he didn’t “get” boundaries, and was inappropriate to some of the female guildies who friended him on FB. When his FB request wandered about my way, I ignored it. When RealID came out, he “saw” me through friend-of-a-friend connection and *almost* got my real name. Fortunately, my friend lied for me.

    I don’t need that level of drama in my life.

    Yeah. My response on the forums was that the executive who green-lit this decision needs to be fired, but my decision was to simply not post on the forums anymore. not much of a threat, I don’t post much to begin with, but the Real ID was a dealbreaker.

  10. I even looked at Real ID and cringed a bit. So far only 3 people have mine. Mind you now, the fact I can see -their lists- is a bit off putting. The fact that I know half the list is irrelavant to me, just the fact I can see it makes it wrong somehow.

    I don’t really need to know that Mr. A is friends with Lady Y who I couldn’t stand in high school. Basically, I don’t need a wow version of face book. Especially since I spend about 15 minutes a month (if that) on Facebook. If I wanted facebook + wow, I would have told my actual friends to get xfire.

    Xfire rocks because its built for gamers… and they recently tied MSN Messanger into the mix, so those friends of mine that NEED pretty colors and fonts (eww) can actually do that, and still talk to me while I’m in game. And, great thing about xfire, nobody -has- to know who I am. My actual RL Friends and my Guildmates can be on the same page without any personal info changing hands.

    So, I guess that’s my response to Real ID… you want to talk to me while I’m in WoW or any other supported game (of which there are tons)? Get xfire. Its always running in the background anyways.


  1. […] to RealID topic. As I said or didn’t say, I was enraged about the RealID on forums change. While I appreciated the effort to make forums troll-less, I was quite sure this is wrong way to go. Yes, it could quite possibly lead to lowering the number […]

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