Holy crap. Blizzard's plans for Real ID are beyond what I even imagined.
So back at Blizzcon, Blizz announced that they were going to be using Battle.net to add cross game/faction/server communication. This sounded great. It would let me ask a friend logged into WoW if they wanted to come play some Starcraft . . . in the form of a whisper to their character! Yay!
Oh wait. Now it turns out that they weren't adding cross game/server chat as a benefit to the players. It's simply bait to create their own social network to get a piece of the Facebook revenue pie.
Hundreds of pages have been posted on the WoW official forums asking for the ability to use Real ID's desirable functionality with aliases (like Xbox gamertag or Steam username) and without giving out email addresses. These threads have been ignored in a way unprecedented by Blizzard's response to any previous issue. Never have they been this silent. Never.
This USA Today interview reveals why.
"Go back to the previous Battle.net, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Steam and other different networks in the context of gaming services. they are all kind of anonymous. That whole veil of anonymity has been an important part of the design. There are those who feel like I want to go escape and create this parallel identity to myself on a gaming network and I don't want anyone to know who I am in real life. What we have seen in recent years is that veil of anonymity has been cast aside largely. Culturally, I think we have become more and more accepting of social networking in the context of your real identity and Facebook, of course as the leader in the space, has led this charge. We're now at something five years ago I don't think any of us would maybe necessarily be comfortable with. We all now have our own Facebook pages and we have got a lot of our information on there. We've got our real names and pictures of ourselves on there and so forth."
I love that veil of anonymity. I don't understand where they get this idea that we are all now accepting of casting aside our anonymity on the internet. Did they get that idea from all the recent Facebook privacy lawsuits and uproar? Or all the reports about people losing their jobs because their employer checked Facebook? Do I want my boss to know I play WoW at all? NO. It would, in fact, greatly hurt my career. Which means I can NEVER use Real ID, because I can't have my real name associated with WoW in any way.
And you know what one of the cool things about having "a lot of information on [Facebook]"? It's that (until recently) we could make that information as private as we wanted. They seemed to have missed that aspect of it.
Here's the most hilarious quote:
Do you expect any push back from diehard Blizzard fans from the Facebook features? We don't anticipate any.
And here's the most terrifying quote:
Here at Blizzard we have seen the social networks as an inspiration to us to really think about what the next stage of the online gaming space will look like. What if we gave people the option to display themselves by their real name and create a social network of real-life friends connecting that Blizzard community based on their real names? So what we are doing is we are introducing this feature called Real ID, an optional layer of identity on top of the standard character level of identity you would have on any game service.
It turns out the entire point is to NOT have a gamertag-like alias. The entire point of the service is to use this real name "layer of identity" different from what's used on other gaming services. Y'know, services that have been wildly successful and acclaimed as opposed to your widely panned system - but hey, those other guys aren't making Facebook money, now are they?
I think it's quite telling that Blizzard won't just come out and say this in response to the forum posts asking for aliases. Talk about selling your playerbase out.
"Step one in our relationship is to have this Friends Importation,"
This is just step one in their relationship with Facebook. Oy. I wonder how deep down the Facebook rabbithole this goes? How closely have they been working with them?
"We are actually fully integrating with the Facebook team."
OK, that kind of shit just plain does not happen between two companies of this size unless a deal is in place. Consider a contract with Facebook, of some type, confirmed.
And I don't even own tin foil, let alone a hat made of it. Sorry, haters.