Hmm. Not exactly an objective headline that, is it? Well, it's not like I was ever pretending I thought the mandatory use of real names on Blizzard's forums was anything other than a ridiculously stupid idea. After assorted debate and malice (which included people searching for and sharing personal details of various Activision/Blizzard staff - including Bobby Kotick), Blizzard have backed down. Well done and thanks for listening, chaps. It's good to know the distant god still listens to its tiny people's prayers.
Big man Mike Morheim stepped in personally to deliver the glad tidings that Real ID on forums is to be scrapped. While he didn't head-on address the issues of privacy and harassment the scheme had entailed, he was certainly unequivocal:
I'd like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. 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.
It's important to note that we still remain committed to improving our forums. Our efforts are driven 100% by the desire to find ways to make our community areas more welcoming for players and encourage more constructive conversations about our games. We will still move forward with new forum features such as conversation threading, the ability to rate posts up or down, improved search functionality, and more. However, when we launch the new StarCraft II forums that include these new features, you will be posting by your StarCraft II Battle.net character name + character code, not your real name. The upgraded World of Warcraft forums with these new features will launch close to the release of Cataclysm, and also will not require your real name.
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. We believe that the powerful communications functionality enabled by Real ID, such as cross-game and cross-realm chat, make Battle.net a great place for players to stay connected to real-life friends and family while playing Blizzard games. And of course, you'll still be able to keep your relationships at the anonymous, character level if you so choose when you communicate with other players in game. Over time, we will continue to evolve Real ID on Battle.net to add new and exciting functionality within our games for players who decide to use the feature.
In closing, I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that Every Voice Matters, ( http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/mission.html ) and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games. We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard's success from the beginning.
CEO & Cofounder
So there you. While the problems of trolling and flaming endemic in most online communities remains in need of a solution, trying to do it by creating scope for anyone on the Blizzard forums to be personally identified by anyone mad enough to do so simply didn't seem like the right way.
Hopefully the big B hasn't given up entirely on cleaning up its dens of rage, and will experiment with smarter alternatives in future. Hopefully too the "at this time" doesn't mean they're going to try and sneak the same thing in later on. I honestly can't imagine they will.
Again, well done and thanks, Blizzard. It's not every day of company of that size really, truly listens to its players.