Everyone seems to have something to say about Blizzard’s new Real ID feature, so I suppose I’ll throw in my two coppers as well.
I’ve seen a variety of reactions to the Real ID feature. I’ve seen people state they were actually going to quit the game over the release of Real ID, which is a voluntary system. On the other side of things, I’ve seen a number of people openly giving out their email in guild chat to anyone who wants to be Real ID friends. I’m not in some cozy little guild either – I’m seeing this in one of the largest guilds in Warcraft, with more than 3000 members.
Me, I’m somewhere in between.
What I like: I love that I can see when my friends are on, no matter what toon I’m playing at the time. Even if I wander off to some other server to play a long-forgotten alt, if my friends come on, we can still chat or make game plans together. I like that I don’t have to try to keep track of all their alts anymore. Some of them have quite a few, let me tell you! Since I’m eagerly awaiting the release date for Starcraft II, it’s also nice to know we can reach each other cross-game.
What I don’t like: I can’t hide out on secret private toons that no one knows about. My bank alt’s name is no longer private. In reality, I never hide out like that anymore, and I’ve started to share my bank alt’s name with my friends so we don’t undercut each other too much at the Auction House. Still, I always knew I could have a private alt if I wanted to. I could change my bank alt if I needed to.
I really don’t like the Friend-of-a-Friend feature, and I know I’m not alone. Yes, I know this is the same thing as it is on Facebook. But on Facebook I don’t use my real legal name. Real ID gives your actual legal name to people you don’t even know. I’ll admit, my concern about this is general and vague. But I still don’t particularly like it.
Am I using Real ID? Yes, with a few select people. These are people I play with regularly; I’ve already given them my cell phone number and personal email, so I have no problem with being Real ID friends with them. I trust they are selective enough about who they have as Real ID friends that it quells my admittedly non-specific fears about the Friend-of-a-Friend feature.
I would like to see Blizz offer us privacy settings for the Friend of a Friend feature, as well as the choice to use a username instead of our actual Battle.net account email and our legal name. I plan to use Real ID sparingly, and I’m enjoying it so far, but I hope Blizzard will do some fine tuning on the privacy issues.