WoW's Blizzard removes anonymity from its forums

Zorg the destroyer, AKA Nigel Smith
Zorg the destroyer, AKA Nigel Smith

Blizzard is taking a brave step into the unknown with its decision to publish the full names of anyone who wants to post in its forums.

The gaming giant – responsible for the likes of MMO leviathan World of Warcraft and Starcraft, is keen to remove the cloak of anonymity that it feels encourages flame wars and nastiness.

The company's decision to impose what it is calling RealID is likely to prove highly controversial, but will also be viewed by many as a positive step in the attempt to build communities.

Real ID

"…anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID -- that is, their real-life first and last name -- with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it," said Blizzard, in a post to its forum.

"These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm.

"The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players -- however, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild.

"Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven't been connected before.

"With this change, you'll see blue posters (i.e. Blizzard employees) posting by their real first and last names on our forums as well."


CVG editor Tim Ingham is not so sure that he agrees with the move, telling TechRadar: "WoW is a world that offers us the chance to escape our true identity and revel in it; to forget that we're chubby Brian from Basildon and become a lithe, Level-70 leviathan.

"The guy or girl you are on Facebook is the same overly polite, regretful human you drag around this unimpressive blob called Earth every day – just through a Vaseline lens.

"Blizzard's decision to rob its forumites of their cloak seems to go against one of WoW's defining offerings – the ability to hide yourself behind a glorious mask of illusion."

Good luck to them, we say. Post your (still anonymous) responses to the news below.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.