Blizzard’s Unreal Real ID

By Shamus Posted Friday Jul 9, 2010

Filed under: Column 95 comments

Note, this week’s column was written last night, before Blizzard changed its mind (partly) about Real ID.

Clearly they saw me coming and retreated. I’m fearsome that way.


From The Archives:

95 thoughts on “Blizzard’s Unreal Real ID

  1. Heron says:

    You forgot to link to your article. [insert grumble about being made to find it myself]

    Edit: Now that I’ve actually read the article, I must point out that despite its now-near-irrelevance, it is one of the most humorous Experienced Points :)

    1. Shamus says:


      Fixed. Thanks!

      1. Heron says:

        It’s not like I have anything better to do here at work ;)

      2. Heron says:

        Oh, also, your link to Blizzard’s RealID page in the article is missing a trailing /, which makes it 404.

        1. Samopsa says:

          And the 404 is actually pretty humorous.

          1. guy says:

            But it has no windmill in its beard.

          2. LafinJack says:

            I thought that was the joke.

          3. Jarenth says:

            Not to mention that 404 page is actually a pretty good description of Blizzard’s RealId idea.

    2. Deoxy says:

      Now that I've actually read the article, I must point out that despite its now-near-irrelevance, it is one of the most humorous Experienced Points :)

      Seconded. I actually laughed out loud. At work.

    3. Cuthalion says:

      Add me to the list of people who found the article hilarious.

  2. Tesh says:

    Note the key phrase: “at this time”

    This isn’t over.

    It also doesn’t mean that *they* think that it’s a bad idea, just that they reacted to stimulus in some way. This wasn’t repentance or recanting stupidity, it’s a hasty feel-good nonapology.

    1. Danel says:

      That’s not certain. It doesn’t mean they’re planning to do it when we least expect it, because it would remain incredibly unpopular. It’s just fairly standard stuff so they’ve aren’t leaving hostages to the fortune of unforeseen circumstances… that is, they’re not promising never to do it just in case something happens that makes it necessary/actually popular. But there’s still no reason for them to do it while it remains this unpopular.

      And I don’t think repentance is really necessary. The only people who were hurt by this affair was the poor Blizzard employee who tried to demonstrate that revealing real names was nothing to fear by revealing his real name.

      1. Will says:

        Repentance is unnecessary; Blizzard had what they thought was a really good idea. They told everyone what their idea was, and everyone pointed out that it was a really bad idea. They listened and decided that it was a bad idea and they weren’t going to do it.

        It’s just “Hey dude, you think i should do X?” “No, seriously, no.” “Hm, i guess you’re right.” on a bigger scale. There’s no need for repenting that; if they’d gone ahead and done it despite the outcry, repetance would be needed, but they didn’t.

        Hell; i don’t even hold this against them now that they’ve backed down. It does seem like a good idea on paper if you don’t really think about it.

        1. krellen says:

          There should have been someone at Activision (I doubt Blizzard thought up this crap) that could have told them what a god-awful idea this was before it ever got out to the public.

          The fact that they had to have this vetted by the world at large, rather than in-house, casts a permanent shadow on their decision-making ability. They obviously don’t have any.

          1. Sean Riley says:

            Sure, they do. They looked at how much money they could make selling private details to Facebook, and promptly went into shock over what a no-brainer decision it was. And yes, I know that article is mostly speculation, but it’s good speculation, probably the only speculation so far that makes sense of it all.

            They’re making excellent decisions. Just not excellent for us.

            1. krellen says:

              It’s highly debatable whether decisions based on the bottom line are “excellent”. Especially if they are short-sighted decisions that do not take into account the long-term detriments that may follow them.

              Corporations do not exist solely for making profit, and more importantly, they do not exist solely to maximise this year’s profit over long-term earnings. Pay structures that suggest otherwise are harmful and destructive, both to the corporation and to society itself.

              Dodge v. Ford is not legal precedent, and is largely inapplicable to corporate law. Like many legal decisions, it was a one-time ruling, not a henceforth ruling. Just in case some ignorant MBA comes along and brings it up.

  3. Raygereio says:

    Shamus, I love how you add a link to summary after the paragraph which that links sums up. A link – which as mentioned above – is invalid, but it’s the thought that counts. Out of curiosity, did you really get complaints about your columns being lengthy? Please let the answer be yes, it would be the most hilarious thing I’ve heard today.

    I’m still thinking this is some kind of joke or an attempt to get more attention from Blizzard. Call me naive and it may be the far too high concentrations of blood in my caffeine talking, but I can’t imagine someone coming up with this idea and not see how this is stupid.

    1. Shamus says:

      Nobody REALLY complains about my article length, aside from the childish TL;DR when I say mean things about [favorite game].

      1. some random dood says:

        Hmm, had to look that up. Will admit, I’m guilty of that sometimes (skppping reading a long post), but I feel that is *my* limitation, not that of the author.

      2. evileeyore says:


        BTW [favorite game] is balls out a blockbuster and you should feel honored to have even been allowed to purchase it and bask in it’s marvelously restrictive DRM. I know, I’m still waiting for the two week background check to clear before [producing company] sends me the code to remove the rootkit it installed that locked my drives.

        1. Zukhramm says:

          It’ll only take one week if you send them a blood sample and one of your toes.

    2. Sean Riley says:

      I'm still thinking this is some kind of joke or an attempt to get more attention from Blizzard. Call me naive and it may be the far too high concentrations of blood in my caffeine talking, but I can't imagine someone coming up with this idea and not see how this is stupid.

      I know I just said this above, but it can’t be said enough: They didn’t do it because they thought it would deal with trolls, or any other reason for us. They did it because they believed either (a) Facebook would pay them big bucks to drive business at them, or (b) They would get mega-bucks from business Facebook threw their way.

      Remember: These are not stupid people. They did the math and worked out the profits. What changed was the fan uproar, which made it bad PR. And as soon as they can work out a way to turn it into good PR, they’ll do it right on over again.

  4. Conlaen says:

    I understand (from RPS, I haven’t been on WoW or it’s forums in some time) that one of the Blizzard employees, to show his faith in the system, disclosed his real name. Shortly after he involuntarily had his address, pictures friends and relatives shared as well.

    On the upside, the uproar over this caused me to re-check what I have shared about myself on the internet and found some small trails I’d carelessly left about.

    1. Mari says:

      You should do this regularly. You never know when say, a Facebook page you post a random comment on, doesn’t have the same respect for your privacy that you do and shares everything shamelessly with Google. Ta-da, now your own Facebook privacy settings are USELESS and the page you’ve gone to such lengths to hide is once again freely available to ex-boyfriends who are aware that the restraining order is expired and were just waiting to leave greasy anonymous packages on your front door step again.

      What? Just saying, hypothetically.

      1. DaveMc says:

        I’m sorry to hear about your hypothetical stalker.

        1. Mari says:

          Heh. I’m far too crafty to let MY hypothetical stalkers find me again. No worries on my account.

      2. Bryan says:

        And people wonder why I don’t have facebook yet.

  5. Vladius says:

    “The internet is populated by rabid and unrepentant assholes who will wade into a reasonable discussion on Zerg vs. Protoss and begin an argument over whether or not Obama ordered NASA to create the Twilight movies as a smokescreen to cover up the fact that the Xbox red ring of death was caused by gays in the military.”

    A statement for the ages.

    1. Jarenth says:

      One almost wishes that was the explanation for Twilight. It makes the franchise a lot cooler by association.

      1. Syal says:

        And NASA. It makes them cooler too.

        1. Moridin says:

          How can NASA be any cooler than it already is?

          1. Vladius says:

            By actually putting their money to use in space instead of making some bizarre statement to the effect that they need to help Muslims or something.

            1. Jarenth says:

              NASA would be a lot cooler if they would finally deliver on that moon beach resort idea every human being has been dreaming about ever since the first lunar landing.

              1. Irridium says:

                They need to get us to Mars already so we can discover the Prothean ruins and get into the Galaxy.

                Yes I’ve been playing Mass Effect quite a bit lately, what of it?

    2. Deoxy says:

      I sent this statement to some friends with a link to the article. This one goes right up there with the Penny Arcade one about internet anonymity.

  6. Irridium says:

    Shamus, if you want to be more famous than Day, you must upload videos of your sessions with DDR.

    There is no other way.
    Well you could try growing boobs. I hear people really like those.

    1. Mari says:

      Or he could just PRETEND to be a woman. Less scary hormone therapy but all the love and adoration. Change your screen name to “A_Really_Hot_Chick_REALLY” and watch the popularity roll in ;-)

      1. Zaxares says:

        Ahhh, dang it. :( I saw his closing comment and wanted to quip, “Isn’t it obvious, Shamus? They want you to be a young, sexy redheaded woman.” It’s kind of a sad reflection on our society that if Felicia was a middle-aged, portly mother of 3, I bet she would not have the kind of popularity she does today.

        1. Syal says:

          I was going to mention that woman from Britain’s Got Talent, but then i realized i didn’t know her name. So, point taken.

          1. krellen says:

            Susan Boyle.

            1. Irridium says:

              Now that was a sexy woman.

  7. Vegedus says:

    You lost me at Felicia Day. Mmmm…. Felicia Day…

  8. Ravens Cry says:

    You know Shamus, a wallpaper made up of a bigger version of the picture you use for Experienced Points would be pretty sweet.

    1. OEP says:

      “You know Shamus, a wallpaper of a bigger version of the picture of Felicia Day would be pretty sweet.”

    2. Matthew says:

      You want Shamus creepily staring at you every time you turn on your computer? Hm. Well, I guess we all have our ways, I am not the one to judge…

    3. HeroOfHyla says:

      I’d need it in 4267×1500 because of my monitor setup. Somebody get crackin’

  9. Froody says:

    Even though they changed their minds already, this was still an excellent and very funny read.

  10. Jarenth says:

    Great. Now I’m left with the overwhelming urge to get a Shamus wallpaper.

    I just hope enough sleep and/or cookies will help supress that urge before someone makes one.

    Nudge nudge.

    1. Moridin says:

      We TOTALLY need a Shamus wallpaper. It’ll end up being posted in the 4chan and becoming a meme and what then? Millions of people with Shamus wallpapers!

      1. Jarenth says:

        You say that like it’s a bad thing.

        1. Vipermagi says:

          2 million people (millions, plural, assume two) with Shamus wallpapers is 1.14 times more than Day has followers. PERFECT. Initiate.

    2. Mari says:

      I would use a Shamus wallpaper but it would make me feel vaguely creepy and stalker-ish. So I stick to anime T&A on my desktop. Because that’s totally not creepy.

    3. Specter says:

      hooray for shamus-wallpaper!

      1920×1080 would be sweet ;)

    4. Nasikabatrachus says:

      I’m not sure about a Shamus wallpaper, but some wallpapers in the style of the “Spoiler Warning” title card/screenshots would be cool.

  11. Drexer says:

    Shamus Young is the guy behind Twenty Sided, DM of the Rings, and Stolen Pixels, Shamus Plays, and Spoiler Warning. All this and he’s still 2000 times less famous than Felicia Day. WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE WANT FROM HIM?!?

    We want you to dance for us Shamus. Dance for us. MUHAHAHHAHAHA.

    Nice article though, it certainly worked from a point of view that I hadn’t considered before.

    1. Syal says:

      Shamus, if it makes you feel any better, I don’t know who Felicia Day is.

      1. acronix says:

        Isn´t that one of Spider-Man girlfriends?

      2. evileeyore says:

        Then how can you possibly know who Shamus is? PARADOX!

      3. Matthew says:

        Google “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog” and then come back. Thank you.

      4. Specter says:

        had to look her up as well ;)

    2. Viktor says:

      Tits, that’s what we want. This is the internet, after all. ;)

  12. Marlowe says:

    If you outlaw pseudonyms only outlaws will have pseudonyms…

  13. Taellosse says:

    We still love you, Shamus. Even if you’re not as popular as Felicia Day (or as pretty. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Also, while I can’t be positive since I don’t have complete data, I’m pretty sure she looks better in a corset).

    I wouldn’t recommend following Irridium’s advice, either. I don’t think you’ve got the figure to make boobs look particularly good. Though they probably would help you out in the looking-good-in-a-corset department a bit, I suppose. ;-)

  14. bit says:

    You and Steve Butts seem to have somewhat of a mutual affection going on, hmm?

    Great article, Shamus, despite it’s irrelevance it was still one of your wittier Experience Points. A better way to end my friday I could not conceive.

    Also, if it makes you feel any better, twenty sided is one of my many home pages, and I do not know who Felicia Day is.

  15. ehlijen says:

    I have 0 ranks in Knowledge(Felicia Day) but I took Improved loving this site last time I got a feat.

    But yes, I think that plan by blizzard would simply have driven everyone off but those who are too douchy to care, thus both spectaculary backfiring and destroying their own customer base.

    I’m not entirely sure I got it all:
    Would this have meant forced disclosure of my name as part of the DRM scheme? Even for single player gaming?

    1. Jarenth says:

      If you ever wanted to post on their fora, or use their cross-game friends list idea, yes.

  16. SolkaTruesilver says:

    You are that awesome, Shamus

  17. Psychoceramics says:

    To nitpick, your real name would only be posted on the forums when you did, and to people you gave your RealID too. At least, as I understood it anyway.

    Just the forums thing was bad enough though. I’m so glad they revoked it.

    1. Athan says:

      I predicted on Thursday:

      my worry is that people will concentrate on the forum side of that too much and as a result, at best, Blizzard will only back down on that, and you’ll still be stuck with revealing your real name to anyone you RealID friend AND their friends

      and I’m right, thus far.

      Damn it, I want a ‘screen name’ option (even if they have to be 100% unique across all regions of and you can never change it), and an opt-out from the friends-of-friends. As it is I’ll either just not RealID friend anyone (not being able to trust their choice of other friends now or in the future) or grumble VERY VERY LOUDLY when I do as it’s likely more convenient than friending all their characters on all games we share.


  18. toasty says:

    I had heard about something Blizzard was planning, and I didn’t think about it because I’m the typical demographic for a gamer, I guess: 18 year old male. All my friends know who I am and I’m not worried about revealing that I play WoW or Starcraft or whatever games I may or may not play. On my facebook profile it says I’m a fan of Demon Hunter (Metal band) and League of Legends (video game) and I am proud of those things. But… looking at it from this angle, I’m really, really, really happy that Blizzard decided this was in fact a bad idea. Next time though it would be nice if they actually thought things through a bit more.

  19. RustyBadger says:

    Mmmmm, Felicia Day.

    /Homer Simpson

  20. krellen says:

    You really should write most of your columns in a rush the night before the deadline, Shamus. It seems to really pull out your funny.

    Good choice of angle, too; the “real girls” angle was explored all over the place, but the “famous person” one only got bare mention.

  21. Pickly says:

    I do wonder whether Blizzard would have improved the forums a bit by linking directly to people’s accounts, rather than by character, assuming such a system was available.

    (Of course, the forum’s can’t improve too much, being for competetive and/or achievement based games, but they might loose some of the “physically feel stupider after reading” quality they have had when I’ve checked them out.)

    1. Stormkitten says:

      Champions/Cryptic Studios does this. You have one global handle for Friends / Ignore lists, and everyone on your friends list can see your new alt immediately. It’s also linked to your forum posts, most forums are subscriber only.
      The only real difference is that the global handle is not your real name. I think it works quite well.

  22. Primogenitor says:

    Nitpick: formally (as in suit and tie) vs formerly (as in dead parrot)? Tsk, your editor at The Escapist must be getting sloppy ;)

    1. X2-Eliah says:

      Or he dressed up the parrot for a decent funeral.

  23. Steve C says:

    I think the Real ID stuff created a shitstorm.

    I sent a series of privacy questions/complaints to Blizzard in January. I think they just recently started checking their privacy email account due to said shitstorm because I got a reply yesterday… 6 months after it was sent.

    1. Syal says:

      See, there’s a good side to this.

  24. Mischa says:

    That picture… Is that a car? On an asphalt road?
    WOW has changed a lot since I left it some years ago!

    1. evileeyore says:


      If that pic is real it just ended all thougths I had about ever returning to WoW.

      1. OEP says:

        It is a screenshot from the goblin starting area in the Cataclysm beta. It is awesome, innovative, imaginative, whimsical, and humorous. And yes, you get to drive a car.

  25. evileeyore says:

    Side Note Shamus:

    I used a more powerful and advanced calculating engine to divide by the number of Shamus Wallpapers and this is the answer it gave:

    +++Out Of Cheese Error+++
    +++Adjust FTB Ratio+++
    +++Rebrew Mint, Add 4 Lumps 1 Lemon Wedge+++

  26. Zukhramm says:

    Don’t worry, they’ve probably got some dumb idea in store to replace this. I suspect this is a case of good old “do something terrible, then pretend to be kind and listening to the fans by turning the evil knob from 11 to 6”.

    1. Corsair says:

      What? Blizzard says ‘We want to do this’ Fans say ‘This is a bad idea.’ ‘Oh. Okay. So we’ll make it optional.’ I hardly see how that’s dialing a bad idea from 11 to 6, it’s taking a bad idea and making it good.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        So, you have a current state ‘good’. Blizzard wanted it to turn into ‘bad’, which is not an improvement. Now, Blizzard will make it ‘good & bad’ – quantitatively it is more, but the net goodness has been reduced still.

        In other words, if you add sour milk to pudding, it doesn’t get better by one bit. You can still eat the part of pudding not touched by the milk yet, but it still tastes the same and over time, it will all go sour. In this case, Blizzard’s ID system is the sour milk.

        Besides, when there is a bad option, there will be ways to force it upon you.

        1. Corsair says:

          Actually, they’re offering a system that is potentially useful in limited, non-universal application, but will cause trouble if applied universally. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing to me.

      2. Zukhramm says:

        I’m not saying it’s bad now, but that they have some bad ideas in store, waiting to be presented. They always do.

  27. Cody says:

    This has got to be one of the funniest articles I’ve read by you, I laughed out loud about 4 times. I can’t imagine how they thought this would be a good idea, if the internet got rid of its anonymity instead of being full of trolls and assholes it would be full of tumbleweeds and crickets. Also, the last sentence on the first page has a error in it: “because you were raiding instead of because”.

  28. RubicantX says:

    Since no one brought it up yet:
    I have to wonder at the legal concerns surrounding underage players. I’m fairly sure they have some kind of 13+ years old requirement to play since that’s something familiar many online games have.
    Quite a few people 13-17 don’t even HAVE an ID. I know I didn’t bother to even get a learners permit until I turned 18 (this was actually before all the current ridiculous restriction on minors with licenses) and got my drivers license later that year.
    On top of not having an ID, or rather let us assume for a moment they DO have an ID, it’s really irresponsible to show the real pictures and real names of children to every perv on ‘net.
    I’d wager there are some females who play who would rather be assumed to be guys so they don’t get unwanted advances, which I’d be willing to bet 99.99999999999999999 of them are unwanted.

    If they put a stop to this RealID thing I doubt it’s because people said “bad idea”, but more that someone from the legal department said “Do you know how many lawsuits this will bring from sexually harassed women and the parents of those kids who will get kidnapped from those child-molesting hackers who got their pictures and addresses from our database?”
    “Oh geez we never thought of that… Abort! Abort!”

    1. Tizzy says:

      I don’t know what it says about me, but the underage aspect is one of the first things that came to my mind when I learned of this RealID proposal.

      And I must say: good catch on the fact that the gender obfuscation may run both ways. I don’t know what to make of it, but I’m all for letting people be all they want to be.

      I’m still trying to puzzle out what their real intention was. Creating common courtesy on forums seems insanely optimistic, and I certainly doubt that all the Joe Smiths out there would be much cowed by having to reveal their names.

      On another note, I think someone will have to go online and shower Shamus with “random gifts and creepy declarations of adoration”. I’d love to bite the bullet myself, but my misanthropy holds fast and I still refuse to join MMO games.

  29. Cody says:

    Oh, I’m stupid I totally misread the last sentence on the first page, there isn’t any errors in it.

    1. Syal says:

      At the risk of missing the joke you might be making…


      1. Cody says:

        I know, I noticed that right after I typed it. Now stop making me look dumb I do that perfectly fine all by myself.

  30. randy says:

    That and no LAN. Kotick certainly managed to turn Blizzard into a bunch of bastards who forgot all about their fans.

  31. El Quia says:

    What is this Felicia Day you all keep talking about? Some kind of US celebration of the name Felicia? Or was there a particular Felicia that did something to deserve having a day in her honor?


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