Blizzard Backs Away From Requiring Real Names from Warcraft Players -- MMO Makers, Take Note!

Triumph of the Horde! A huge turning point in the relationship between consumers and virtual worlds is occurring today, and it took thousands of pissed off orcs and elves to make it happen. Only 3 days after announcing a widely protested policy to require real names in its user forum, World of Warcraft developer Blizzard just announced that they’re cancelling those plans. “We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players,” Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime wrote this morning, crediting the community for influencing this change. (That’s one way of putting it. The protest got so ugly, some Warcraft fans resorted to posting real life details of Blizzard employees and their familes; even info on Bobby Kotick, CEO of corporate owner Activision Blizzard, was put online.) And now that the West’s most successful MMO developer has backed away from connecting real names to online worlds, a line has been drawn:

“Blizzard didn’t even offer opt-out [from using Real ID],” famed MMO analyst and developer Scott Jennings, who’s been covering the controversy on his blog like crazy, told me. The company assumed it was big enough to state the terms of their relationship with consumers. “And the users said, ‘Uh… no.'”