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Blizzard and Facebook

July 7, 2010 ID is hyped up to be Blizzard’s golden child, but it’s a tricky bastard too. I hope it matures quickly before it alienates a bigger percentage of users than it already has.

My biggest issue with Real ID is that it’s obvious that this is not an isolated issue. Real ID in-game was a little creepy, but you could opt-out or limit your use of it. Although you still couldn’t the privacy and customization that you wanted. Official forums Real ID has us in an uproar. We’re self-banning ourselves to protect our privacy.

But the lingering question is, “What’s next?” Blizzard keeps talking about a bigger picture, a social-networking (I hate that word) future. They aren’t giving us much of a choice and they don’t seem too phased by our protests.

This sort of behavior sounds familiar. Like we’re being forced into something without our full consent and told to just “accept the future” and trust that it’s better. Anonymity is bad. We should all be friends. We should share. We should have one open singular identity.

Oh wait. I know where I’ve heard this before…

Then I saw that Blizzard and Facebook have hopped into bed together.

How did I miss this? The original announcement was released in May and I failed to connect the dots until now. and Facebook Integration Announced

USA Today Interview with Blizzard

Currently, the agreement simply allows you the option of logging into your Facebook when you install Starcraft, then you can automatically select contacts who share both Facebook and It’s similar to every application that wants to scan your contacts list and see who is currently using the service or have you invite them to join in. Many social-networking sites employ it, if you choose to use it during sign-up. On its own, this isn’t too bad. It seems a little unnecessary, but it could almost be looked over as just a nifty time-saver. It’s even cool if you already subscribe to the WoW Armory Facebook application or other features.

But this feature ships with Starcraft II. And it comes complete with the icky dread in the pit of your stomach as you realize there is bound to be more to this. Blizzard is rapidly gaining a reputation for not knowing when to quit.

From USA Today:

I would assume that the Facebook relationship would be used to draw more casual game players to Blizzard’s games.
Absolutely. Our goal and vision in this partnership is to really to cross-populate the social networks and to easily find and add your friends from Facebook onto the new service as the first step and extending it to other features in the future. … Later on, of course, we have lots of things we are talking about with Facebook. We haven’t announced anything specific, but we have lots of ideas about ways to cross-populate and share data between the two services.

This doesn’t make me feel good. Blizzard, didn’t you get the memo that Facebook can’t be trusted? That Mark Zuckerberg is just a little bit insane with his anti-privacy ideology and his constant abuse of his users’ trust? There are other social-networking sites you could have used as a mentor and partner. This isn’t good for building up the reputation of Real ID and encouraging us to trust you as you run rampant with our information.

So what are these ideas of yours? And what data will you be sharing? Do we get a say in it? Will our information be leaked through our friends and guildmates who decide to use the service, even if we decline?

From USA Today:

Do you expect any push back from diehard Blizzard fans from the Facebook features?
We don’t anticipate any. We are going to be very clear and upfront with the user. Once they log in and create a account for the first time, if they choose to participate in Real ID, it is of course, an optional set of features that you don’t have to participate in. Beyond that we are going to notify them upfront their names could be used to populate via Facebook and how their names could be used via this Facebook feature.

If today is any example, never say, “We don’t expect any.” And don’t bullshit about these features being optional. Real ID is turning out to be as optional as Facebook’s privacy features. Perhaps less so.

The issues of privacy and identity are very quickly destroying the escape that so many seek in MMOs. How can you be immersed when everyone knows where you are?  And can you afford for everyone to know that information?

Blizzard doesn’t seem to think that’s an issue. In fact, gamers really don’t want that anymore.

From USA Today:

How did this development come about?
Go back to the previous, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Steam and other different networks in the context of gaming services. they are all kind of anonymous. That whole veil of anonymity has been an important part of the design. There are those who feel like I want to go escape and create this parallel identity to myself on a gaming network and I don’t want anyone to know who I am in real life. What we have seen in recent years is that veil of anonymity has been cast aside largely.

Um. Hello? Blizzard, get your head out of the fancy computing cloud and come back to reality.

We may do that, and many soon regret it, but it’s our choice. We still turn to large-scale video games, to World of Warcraft, for an escape, for the parallel identity, for the characters and the adventures and the community. The community that is NOT in Facebook and is NOT necessarily in our daily lives. The pockets of people who have all of their communities connected are few. It isn’t a luxury that many of us can afford.

If we want to connect our WoW lives to Facebook, there are shiny obnoxious applications that do it without tying your company up to to the ticking time bomb.

Can you stop trying to redefine our identities for us and get back to designing the game we’d all like to play?


From → Community

  1. Khamrin permalink

    I’m probably too naive regarding social networking to fully appreciate the ramifications of Blizzard’s new policies and plans. But I’m of the opinion that no one really gives a shit about who I am and will not bother looking me up on Facebook or otherwise.

    Worried about potential employers? There’s little information regarding my personal life that isn’t already available online and through other venues. What company is going to pass on would-be employees simply because they play an MMO?

    All that aside, if there is ever need, I can remove my Facebook and WoW accounts pretty darned quickly.

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