Final Thoughts on RealID
It’s old news by now to many, but it’s welcoming to see that Blizzard decided to listen to their player-base, and not go forward with their plans for Real-ID on the forums. In the aftermath of it all, I’ve had time to reflect back on the last couple days—what this game means to its players, and how far issues need to be taken before some of us are willing to stand up for what we think is right.
If you asked me if I regretted canceling my subscription, I would say no. I know that if I didn’t, then I would’ve felt that my voice wouldn’t be heard. To the bigwigs like Bobby Kotick, money is the only language they can understand. I’m sure the 2000+ page thread on the forums certainly helped, but in the end it came down to the amount of players that were unsubscribing, and those canceling their pre-orders for various Blizzard products (SC2 comes to mind) These were people that didn’t want to leave, but felt that if they were to stay on, they would only be supporting a move that would endanger themselves, as well as those around them.
To me, it comes as a bit of a relief that Blizzard still listens to its players. Some people have said that they knew Blizzard would cave-in to the masses, but when you read that they have a long term goal with this Real-ID thing, sometimes you never know. Perhaps I should’ve known, but who am I to take chances with my rights to privacy?
Amongst the aftermath, people were either breathing a sigh of relief, or they were doing that AND resubscribing. Some have kept their accounts closed, remaining unconvinced about the future. The deal with Facebook was done back in May—when they first started talking about Real-ID. Whose to say that they wouldn’t try something like this again in the future elsewhere? The fact that they’ve yet to change their private policy on the issue of Real-ID on the forums may seem a bit worrisome.
Now, I’m hardly one to push the paranoia button, but I have to agree with those that say “this isn’t over yet.” Blizzard’s reputation has been tarnished. I take their word on good faith, but I remain cautiously optimistic about the whole thing unless they end up doing a major revamp of Real-ID (Blizzard-ID sounds so much better IMHO). I do want to say that I don’t think Blizzard was entirely responsible for orchestrating this—it isn’t like them for one. When your company has a track record of keeping an ear to the voice of the customers for about fifteen years, you have a feeling when something just feels… wrong. And that’s what this whole thing felt; like a puppet on strings.
Are We Too Late?
I’ve begun to notice as I make my rounds around the blog-o-sphere, that some people feel the community has woken up a bit too late. That if this many people had spoken out about when Real-ID was introduced in-game, then things probably would’ve turned out very differently. Given that the deal was done in May—before Real-ID was launched—I would say that this is something that just might be out of our hands. This is something only the shareholders could’ve really decided on. Sadly, most people see social media networks like Facebook as the future, and many are willing to jump on that bandwagon to get a piece of that billion dollar market, even if their products weren’t meant for that type of audience.
Real-ID is here, and it’s staying. However, I don’t think it’s too late to change it. I think a lot of people will agree that it’s a fantastic idea filled with a number of features players have been asking for years. (Cross-faction communication? RPers have been wanting that for a long time. Cross-server communication? As someone who has friends spread across a number of servers, this was a HUGE draw for me, and it makes me very sad that I don’t make use of it.) Many players that refuse to use it are only asking for a few choice features—adding an invisible status—making some features optional—friend of friend—or to make a change to make it safer—using a user-generated alias as your friend name to be displayed and used for invites.
The customer base wants Blizzard to succeed. To create such a stunning product that they’ll continue to play it for years and years, and that’s a major part of why the Blizzard formula works so well. But, that only works if we keep speaking up and letting them know.
So keep speaking out. Keep proposing changes on existing features such as Real-ID. One day we may yet see the day where Real-ID is no longer a heated topic of controversy, but just another enjoyable feature that keeps us playing their games.