Power to the People — Blizzard backs down

NOWAI!

Way.

Here it is in black and white — well, in blue on dark grey, anyway. Here’s the essential blahblah:

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.

So presumably the reaction was big enough to have an impact. Maybe the sub cancellations were big enough. We’ll probably never know, but hey, it’s a victory. RealID remains optional in the game stuff — which is fine. Options, as I have said here many a time, are A Good Thing. If people want to share their real identities with each other that’s their business and their prerogative; those who don’t want won’t have to.

Lest some frothloony supporter find this site and accuse me of being a troll-hag, I’d like to add: accountability is devoutly to be wish’d, especially on cesspool forums like the WoW ones. But when it comes at the price this would have, it’s pointless.

The cynical part of me wonders if this is just a public Friday backing-down so that they can slip something in under the radar in a few days, weeks or months. I guess we’ll see.

Many thanks to commenter RealNameForSure-Sev on the previous post for pointing this out to me.

EDIT — so I posted this an hour ago, but apparently I didn’t. My internet farted! Anyway, it’s here now or YOU wouldn’t be here, right?

9 thoughts on “Power to the People — Blizzard backs down

  1. Almost 50K posts, and the blogoshere set aflame. Even the BBC picked it up. It’s been a interesting ride.

    1. Aye. As I said on Lariiiiisa’s place, I suspect being picked up by *major* news outlets had a lot more to do with it than anything we might have contributed. But who knows. Maybe the Beeb & Co news editors would never have seen it if one of them wasn’t a gamer & surfing the internet asplosion that happened in the last couple of days.

      We’ll never know. 😀

  2. The crazy side of me actually wished Blizzard *didn’t* back away from the idea. 😛 I’m dying to know how much people really value their privacy in this online era. Would flocks of people put their money where their mouth is and boycott Blizzard’s games? Or is the company’s allure too powerful for mere mortals to withstand? (Yes, I know there’s a lot of people who say they quit over it, but in my experience that’s an over-exaggeration.)

    On a secondary note, I was kind of hoping for more coverage on Blizzard’s attempt to muscle in on the competitive gaming scene. It certainly seems like they’re going for an all-encompassing strategy, and well, that seems like too much power for one company to have (at least in my eyes).

  3. I’m curious to know what changed their mind, but I suspect it wasn’t so much the “public shame” as it was a wave of people canceling their accounts.

    …which pretty much invalidates the notion of public shame killing trolls, now that I think about it.

    This isn’t over, though. Remember the clause: “at this time”…

    1. Yeah, I’m not overwhelmed with optimism either, though I figured for the post it might be better to not be a miserable cow for a change. 😀

      As for the account cancellations — dunno. Sanya Weathers (Eating Bees) reckons there won’t have been enough of them to make any kind of difference, at least not enough for Blizzard to really notice. She may well be right.

      If there were (and I’m rounding up massively here I think) 100k responses in the forum thread, and say half of those cancelled (highly unlikely), you’re talking 50k subs. For Blizzard, that’s barely a blip and probably not much more than the daily churn on a bad day anyway.

      I’m just making those numbers up, of course, but at the end of the day I still suspect it was the major media attention (news channels specifically) that made them, if not back down, then at least back away a little. We’re just silly enough to think we really made a difference — though the blogoforuminternet shitstorm was probably what attracted the bigger media attention in the first place, so maybe we did.

      In any case, one has to speak up, even if it makes no difference.

      1. Oh, most definitely, we should speak up. Thing is, money is about all they understand; it’s their lingua franca.

        A thought on the “making a difference” in the cancellation numbers, though… maybe a few cancellations here and there don’t matter, but when a wave comes in and has the potential to make bigger waves, well… even the number monkeys can understand forecasting, and that it’s better to pull the Titanic *off* the iceberg than to plow on full steam ahead.

        I read their actions as damage control, not a change in the long-term course.

        All in all, it’s probably a mix of things. Getting the otherwise lethargic and intellectually dead mainstream media to notice is a feat in itself, though, and yeah, it’s probably a significant component of the call.

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