Why I Won’t Be Using Real ID

With the latest patch 3.3.5, Blizzard introduced what could have been one of the best gamer friendly features that they have released so far. Namely, a way for in-game friends to keep in touch with others across realms and different games. But I won’t be using it. Here’s why…

I currently don’t play World of Warcraft.

Okay, a little facetious, I know. I’m quietly enjoying myself in Everquest 2, dungeon crawling and even doing a little raiding with my guild, The Halasian Empire. When Starcraft 2 comes out I’m not sure I’ll be buying it straight away anyway. However, even then I’ve gone on record as saying that I’ll be creating a separate Battle Net account for SC2.

But… I do intend to have a go at Cataclysm at some point. I expect that to release around November, so the Christmas break (not that running my own business affords break time, even over the holidays) might give me some time to whip up a Worgen. But even then I won’t be using Real ID, and these are the reasons.

  1. I don’t have any real life friends playing WoW. Blizzard themselves do not recommend Real IDing anyone who is not known to you in real life, from the Real ID FAQ. Real ID is a system designed to be used with people you know and trust in real life – friends, co-workers and family — though it’s ultimately up to you to determine who you wish to interact with in this fashion.
  2. The identifier for Real ID is the email address used for my BattleNet account. Okay… not really secure and something Blizzard also doesn’t recommend. This is from a Blizzard Support article, A leading cause of accounts being compromised is from players willingly sharing their account information, such as with personal acquaintances… Okay, to be fair they’re talking about login information here. Oh wait, your Real ID *is* one half of your account login info. Once they have your username, all they have to do is guess your password. BTW, you should also note from the same article, Please note that not being aware of the fact that sharing account information is a violation of the game’s Terms of Use does not result in leniency in the enforcement of the policy. The results of sharing account information can be severely detrimental for everyone involved, and Blizzard must enforce this policy consistently in all cases. So not only is giving someone your Real ID sharing half your account login info, it’s also violating Blizzard’s own terms of service. Now there’s a Catch 22 for you. (I love that book!)
  3. I want to maintain my privacy, or at least the illusion of privacy. I simply want to be known as Stropp, or Bargearse, or Phlebas or any one of the number of monikers I’ve chosen for myself over the years. (I’d probably choose the Stropp alias seeing as it has been the one I’ve given the most effort to ‘branding’ due to this blog.) While I have no illusions of the fact that anyone could probably find my real name out very quickly, I’d prefer to keep some boundaries between my gaming and ‘real’ lives even if a Google of my name shows no information about me, except for a couple of programming forum posts from years back and the fact that I share my name with a couple of actors and the inventor of a Formula One racing car engine.
  4. I also like, from time to time, to have some alone time. I want to be able to flip a switch on Real ID and become invisible to the rest of the gaming world. If I decide to devote several hours to a Horde character on a different server without being available to my guild for whatever, I want to be able to do that. That doesn’t seem to be something that Blizzard wants me to be able to do, even though other IM services offer that facility. In real life I can let my phone go to the answering machine if I’m eating dinner or watching a movie, and the caller doesn’t know if I’m home or not, so no offence. Let me do the same with Real ID Blizzard, let me choose to which characters and games that Real ID will apply.

Real ID, as I said at the start of this post, is a really promising feature to add to Blizzard’s stable of games. The whole social networking thing is going to be a big part of the future, not just of games, but communication and even business and government. However it has to be managed properly in order to win trust. It seems to me that someone at Blizzard, or perhaps above them in the Activision management chain, had the idea that some kind of social networking feature would be good and demanded it be implemented without giving thought as to the ramifications. Unfortunately, that gives us this half-arsed implementation of Real ID.

So come Cataclysm, or perhaps before if I get the urge to play World of Warcraft, if you see me in game and ask me to do the Real ID thing with you, please don’t be offended at a polite no. At least, until Blizzard addresses my concerns. Then I’ll reconsider my stance.

(BTW, during my research I noticed that there is an incredibly unpopular US government law called the Real ID Act. Why did Blizzard choose to name their social networking system after something that has generated such bad feelings? Like I said half-arsed, and badly thought out.)

2 Comments

  1. Oakstout

    Blizzard tempts you with this function, warns you of its danger and then insists that you buy their authenticators, which is the real purpose of the RealID. I mean, even if they have 1/2 of your log in, they can’t actually log in if your using an authenticator, at least that is my thinking.

    Still, the way Blizzard warns people about security and then put something into their battlenet that would erase 1/2 of that security is crazy. I have lots of real life friends playing this game, but none of them I would trust with my account information.

    Hear is my deal, I don’t care if I can talk to people on another server, because if I wanted to do that, I would BE ON THAT Server. If they are playing WoW and I’m playing Starcraft 2, why would I want to chat with them? If I wanted to hang I’d be playing WoW or they would be playing StarCraft 2 with me. If I really have to communicate with someone in another game or server, I use Rapt or Steam chat. Third party software has always been the way to go for this. Why? So it doesn’t screw up your interface and add a bunch of unneeded crap to the game that will cause security issues for those not using the authenticator.

    But as you can see, I agree with you!

  2. Pingback: Now You Have To Use Real ID If You Want To Post | Stropp's World

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