So, we’ve all had an exciting week, haven’t we?

First, the news, for those that hadn’t seen it yet. Blizzard made an announcement that the Official WoW Forums would NOT, in fact, display real first and last names when their changes go live. Instead, there will be a persistant handle or nickname of some kind. The message was signed as coming directly from Mike Morhaime.

So.

I’ll admit to being a little stunned.

I’m not speechless, nor dumbfounded, or even amazed.

But I am stunned. With a little disappointment thrown in as well.

This is what I, personally, wanted, and it was all I wanted.

No bullshit rhetoric, no torches waved in the air, no pitchforks brandished with glee, no screaming “Burn the witch! Burn her!”

I just wanted what was, to me, a very poor decision modified to remove the requirement of publicly displaying your real legal first and last name in order to participate in an online gaming community. 

Well, they did that.

Thanks!

See, that was me there. Thanking Blizzard.

Look, I’ll do it again.

Thanks!

I’m thanking Blizzard, because they had made a decision, publicly announced their decision, and then had to face the hard choice of choosing to stick to their decision come hell or high water and being accused of refusing to listen to the concerns of their subscribers, or changing their decision and inevitably getting accused of being wishy washy and lacking the courage to stick to their principles.

They chose to bend in the wind of subscriber discontent. They modified their stance. We will not be required to bring our real life into our escapist fantasy.

And, of course, they are now being ripped a new one for it.

Well, I knew that was coming, no matter what. Truly, no surprises there.

What disappoints me is how many people were willing, SO FAST, to take Blizzard’s final reaction to the public outcry, an outcry that saw over 1700 pages of “Hell No”, and actually turn it into a consiracy theory.

“They meant to do that the whole time. They just got a week of free Buzz. Look, they came out with crazy talk they never intended to carry through on, and then when they backed down they get what they always wanted in the first place, AND get to seem like they listen to customer complaints! This is what they intended from the beginning!”

I thought I was cynical, and I thought I was pretty clear on the “Corporations are in the business of making a profit for their shareholders” understanding of financial decisions.

And yet, I am still not so far gone that I can see the color of the sky of the planet upon which these people are standing. I can’t tell what the weather’s like there.

I wonder if there are rainbows. Rainbows are pretty. I like rainbows.

Blizzard made a partnership with Facebook. They planned on, and moved towards, social networking integration. And in pursueing that goal, they made an announcement that caused a backlash with an intensity the WoW community has never seen before. This was almost, not quite, but almost Star Wars Galaxies NGE level backlash. And it’s possible it could have built to that level if left unanswered.

Did you see that main Official WoW Forums thread? Did you see the WoW Ladies forum thread? Did you notice the number of comments on the MMO Champions thread about it, or on WoW.com, or the many blog posts in the blogging community about it?

There has been outrage before, and drama, and stupidity, but never in my experience in WoW did so many come out with such a clearly negative reaction in so short a time to anything else.

There was a solid minority of players happy with the change, and there were of course those that were delighted to see Blizzard do it, JUST for the sheer joy of expecting to see an internet disaster of biblical proportions rain locusts and fire down upon everyone involved, for their amusement. Those folks, of course, I noticed expected it to be a nightmare for all involved… they were just in favor of it for the drama watching enjoyment.

Alongside the conspiracy theorists, there are those lambasting Blizzard for having “caved”.

“Caved”?

This is not a dad letting his grounded teen out of punishment early because he was tired of hearing the whining, “But daaaaad! my friends are all seeing Eclipse tonight, and I wannnna go toooooooo! Oh, and can I have $80 for a shirt at Hollisters first?”.

That’s what “caved” is. It’s giving in to the selfish, petty or inappropriate requests of the undeserving, out of a selfish desire to stop dealing with the bitching and complaints.

Do you really feel thats what Blizzard did? That they acted merely to shut us up because they were tired of the whining, and it was easier to give in than to stick to their principles?

Or even better, are you in the first group and really think that Blizzard WANTED to cause all this drama and controversy, for whatever reason, as some kind of plot, and this was all planned in advance?

I just…. wow.

If you do, if you really look inside yourself, and after trying to be objective about all this, you really feel in your heart that it was anything other than responding to thousands of players’ concerns expressed over three days, then please. I have a request.

Just leave me alone. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t.

If thats your stance, and that’s really the first reaction you’ve got instead of a simple “Hey Blizzard, thanks for paying attention to our concerns, I for one really appreciate such a clear, fast and unequivocal response”, if you’re really that negative, then just drop me from your feedreader.

I may get pissed on occasion and go off on a rant, but in my heart, I’m just not that negative.

I like playing WoW, I’m willing to pay a monthly fee for the game I’m getting, I’m willing to pay for the extra work that they put into the expansions, I’m very willing to buy an in-game pet if they give me a cute stuffed animal Horde batwing mount to go with it, and I’m happy to talk about the game and share stories and squee with glee over whatever comes down the road.

Sure, I get pissed at times. Sure I rant. I vent. I go off on great roaring tears. But I do so because I am so passionate in my love for the wonderful game of WoW, it’s depth, it’s vibrant vitality, the insane number of hours of pleasure it has brought me over the years.

I do it for the Internet Dragons. They deserve to get what’s coming to ‘em, and I’m just the one to bring it.

Sure, on this blog that picture up there has my real name on it. But this is a blog about my life in a video game, among other things, and here, as there, I do not like being called John. John is what they call me at work. John is what I hear being paged over the loudspeaker when, inevitably, there is yet another damn emergency that needs tending to.

Here, I’m the Big Bear Butt. I’m B^3. BBB. Triple B. And whatever other cute, funny, goofy variations you awesome folks come up with.  And I am the BBB here, because this is not work. This is not my “serious” life. This is me having fun with other people I hope are as passionate about the game as I am, and who start out with that passion in their hearts as well.

Not negativity, and not piss-poor bitterness.

I’m glad I won’t have to be ‘John’ on the forums, if and when they change them. For me, I like keeping it unreal. No big deal otherwise, but thats just me. Far more than that, I am truly happy that so many people who wanted the choice of keeping their identity private, for personal as well as safety reasons, will no longer have that worry. Not at all.

I see that as nothing but positive. I don’t see shadows circling, getting ever closer. It’s just positive. We wanted to have the option of remaining unreal. We get it. Got it? Good!

I shouldn’t be disappointed. Nobody owes me a damn thing, and everyone has a perfect right to whatever opinion they’ve got. I have no reason, nor right, to have expected anything different.

But I am. And I did. Shame on me.

22 Responses to “Yeah, I know, I said I was Moving On…”
  1. Keeva says:

    This isn’t my nose, it’s a false one!

  2. Ming says:

    I agree with you on the negativity part, but I think you’ve had enough of dwelling on that for now, so, switching topics:

    So I got about halfway through reading this post when I’d realized I always thought you were a “Jon,” BBB, and I had to scroll back to the top to make sure. :P

  3. Dan says:

    As a lifelong BRK fan I still prefer B4 :)

  4. anon says:

    Ok let me net this out for you because my open letter to Mike on Larrisa’s blog was not explicit enough…

    Blizzard DID NOT cave. As in there has been NO CHANGE IN THEIR ULTIMATE PLANS. Got it?

    Only half of Mike’s statement was for WOW players the other half was for other interested parties. Big, they have SOLD this concept to EVERYONE but their playerbase. Every exec meeting, every stock analysts meeting, every partnership meeting with facebookies. ALL OF IT

    What everyone intutively knows is that something is wrong… What WOW players don’t get is how wrong it is and in what way. The forum real name thing is trivial… They don’t really care. But this “Real Name for blogs” pinhead idea is EXACTLY the kind of idea you get when your corporate culture changes FOR THE WORSE.

    Look at it this way… If someone wanted to make YOUR account uniquely identifiable how would they do it??? Ok they could tie your account to a unique email address. Like say Battle.net just did… Hmmm but that’s not good enough no people can change email addresses like shirts… what we need is something that people DON’T discard like phone numbers, addresses, zip codes, credit card numbers… Hey wait people don’t change NAMES DO THEY??? Yeah thats it!!!

    But wait we can’t use the name field in credit card billing… that’s protected by our VISA/MC/AMEX/DC SECURE TRANSACTION AGREEMENT… geez we don’t want to piss those guys off they can sue us good. I guess we need to entice (lure/trap suckers) into opting in to get around this.

    Why Names? Ok here is the kicker in information analysis you NEED a key a unique id field that all the other data revolves around. In databases this is called a primary key… Before much of the laws like HIPAA everyone used Social Security Numbers. Now that is barred by law so EVERYONE and their Uncle has been looking for a replacement… Enter in Social Networking and voila I ask for Tons of personal info and I tie it to… wait for it… your given NAME.

    With this Name I can query public records, criminal courts, civil courts, tax records, drivers licenses (except in CA mostly), etc etc. – what I don’t have is how you behave in a commercial buying marketplace… what do you like to eat, drink what clothes you wear… what games you play and how much, how much do you talk about games and/or clothes…

    Sure I could read a personal blog… But you know what would be really niffty… If I know all YOUR FRIENDS and checked with them… all of us have friends that do WAY TOO MUCH online. they post who they are dating, what clothes they wear (and belong to that American Eagle Club sponsored by AE Retail) – So easy I know that you belong to X clubs with X distinct buying patterns. Oh and wait theres more… it turns out that they play GAMES ONLINE!!!!

    And the buying patterns in games can be tied to buying patterns in real life. Do you make impuse purchases? Farmville says you do 90% of the time!!!
    Do you respond immediately when an offer to buy some item is sent with a coupon? Yoville says you do!

    Oh this is too easy says Pepsi. I can just target my advertising so much more effectively. No more days of 5% redeemables from a coupon drop by a local paper. No Siree I CAN up by Coupon effectiveness to 50% by using the snazzy dazzy Facebook marketing data mining software that my company paid for.

    And you know the hoot THEY PAID US A SUBSCRIPTION FEE TO BE TARGETS!!! this is just too good we know that they are high wage earner households too!
    No means testing here… boy it’s like Facebook hit the motherlode with this demographic. High Wage earning AND they have a big transaction behavior history er… it says here that they buy “purple upgrades” a lot. I say we hit em with more upgrade offers for cellphone service make sure to mention the iPhone comes in Purple.

    I speak as one WHO HAS SEEN THE DATA by the way. I have seen the future and I know damn well I ain’t paying for the honor of having the Marketing Hunter’s Mark placed on me.

  5. neverenough says:

    The other fun thing to see are the people who told us to STFU about RealID now saying those of us who spoke up should “feel stupid.” I call that fail logic. The fact that so many spoke up is why they backed off on it. Not because it was some evil conspiracy plan.

    *eyeroll*

    Where do people come up with this stuff?

    And yeah not linking to my blog b/c I have had enough of trying to reason with the crazies for the past week to last me a good long while.

    Thanks for the great post saying what a bunch of us are thinking atm.

  6. Urahaira says:

    just had to say, You Rock Sir!

    you have been and will remain on my feedreader ;)

  7. Nimizar says:

    Well said (again), Bear :)

  8. Rowtan says:

    /Cheer

    I was solidly against the idea of Real ID – I thought it was such a bad idea that I had to keep checking the date to make sure it wasn’t April 1st. I just couldn’t believe they could actually put it forward as a good idea. Perhaps that is why some are now cynical about the reasoning behind it. Most sane people, after the initial “oooh, that will sort out the level 1 trolling”, would think of the ramifications for themselves and then realise this was bad.

    Perhaps those who thought of this idea in Blizzard or wherever, just got a bit over-excited. Perhaps they had had waaay too much coffee that day, the idea popped into their head and they never got past the “oooh this is a good idea” bit … then ran round Blizz HQ like an over-enthusiastic bunny pulling others along with them. Before you know it, everyone is popping more caffeine and jumping around being happy about it and posting it on the forums. That’s why they’ve been quiet for a few days, just watching the page count increase on the forums – they’ve been coming down off the caffeine buzz and thinking “what did we do?!”

    I’d certainly like to think that … because anything else means that either (a) there was an ulterior motive for it that no doubt involved money and bugger the players, or (b) someone high up in the organisation can put forward bad ideas that no-one intelligent can pursuade them out of (at least not without a storm of public protest).

  9. Elynea says:

    I’m relatively new here, and have never before posted a comment, but I just wanted to say…

    Thank you for being the voice of sanity.

    I saw the announcement after the firestorm rained down from every blog forum and post (except for a few). I applauded Blizzard for listening to their player base. There was a moment of stunned silence…cheering…and then, within what seemed like seconds, the first Meyers-like rumblings of “why are we celebrating…they PLANNED this”.

    Life is so much more pleasant if you don’t spend it creating roaches behind rows. Blizzard tried to do something, it was not well received (understatement) by their paying customers, they chose to change their stance. Enough said, for me.

    Some poor suckers are never happy unless the QQ is flowing. Happy hangover to them. I’m going back to enjoying my game, now.

  10. Clapus says:

    So publishing pics of yourself and your favorite bong on Facebook is ok, but your real name on Blizzard forums is not? Opt in or opt out it does not matter Blizzard knows who we are.

  11. I’m pretty sure this is why i love you, 3B. Maybe I’m an eternal optimist and want to believe the best, even of a company.

  12. bigbearbutt says:

    Clapus, I can say with absolute, rock solid certainty that I have never published a pic of me with my favorite bong, on Facebook or anywhere else.

    I am 100% certain.

    You see, I’ve never HAD a bong. It makes it quite easy for me to be sure.

    Now, if you meant JONG, well, sure, I post pics of my favorite Jong all the time. I make them myself, I just take pictures of his head, find appropriate poses on the internet of porn stars, then I open Photoshop…

    Oh, wait. Umm…. I mean, no, I don’t do that either.

  13. kaozz says:

    They have customers to think about and honestly they brought it on themselves. The response was- AT THIS TIME. That is what still has people cringing and complaining. Having said that, I am glad they decided against it for now. Yay Blizzard and all that. I just lost some respect that they would ever consider doing this to customers.

  14. Tesh says:

    I don’t see a conspiracy theory, but neither do I think this is over.

    Round one to the little guy (yay!), round two… who knows?

    Happy for now, but wary. *shrug*

  15. bigbearbutt says:

    Hey Tesh, you’ve got a point, but… when is anything ever over?

    Not to get too deep into the philosophical BS, but anything that can’t remain flexible and change when appropriate is doomed to stagnation.

    They could change it back tomorrow. But likewise, they could make all textures in the game pink with purple polka dots.

    They’re gonna change things. Heck, it’s built into their model for the game, to change things in massive ways, from the zones to the classes to the very core rules, and I think it’s by design to keep things always feeling ‘fresh’ and new, even after we’ve played it all for 5 years.

    All we can do is examine each change, when it’s proposed and then again when it happens, and provide feedback with honest hope of improving the game.

    If they change things we don’t like… actually make the change, and we don’t like it… then we move on. We vote with our feet. It’s not like there is a lack of games out there.

    I just don’t see the need to start going to crazytown over all of it.

  16. Baiin says:

    First off. BBB I love you man. Been a reader and fan for a long time. Second: This was NEVER an attempt to destroy troll posts. Blizz has millions upon millions of dollars flowing in every month and if people don’t think they couldn’t devote resources to banning trolls they’re sadly mistaken. Much like the above posts I think this was an attempt to create a social network ( no there was no conspiracy, give your heads a shake ). And it did fail because WoW players and all RealID players in general play this game exactly as BBB said, as an “escapist” game. Yea, I’m on facebook. Yes people in another country who I’ve known for years in my guild know my RealID name. The point is: I CHOOSE to let them know this info. The scenario that Blizz was trying to institute removed my choice in the forums. And I’m glad that they’ve put it off for the moment. Chances are they will try to do something similar in the future, as Mike’s retraction post indicated. The door is wide open. Only next time they’ll shove a free pet down our throats to avoid resistance.

  17. Tesh says:

    *chuckle*
    Indeed, BBB. I mean, we’ve had discussions about how the *game* really should change, and how it’s healthy for a “live” game to do so.

    It’s just… their RealID endgame hasn’t changed. The *business* goal is the same: a “social gaming platform”.

    I’m all for making WoW a fantastic, beautiful, incredible game, and changing whatever it takes to get there. Many of my articles on are just that. I think it’s worth it, as I see a lot of potential in the game.

    I don’t want a “social gaming platform” getting in the way, though. There’s a difference between the two, and I tend to believe that the game suffers when the business gets too full of itself. I also find it troublesome that we are now pitted squarely against the company, rather than cooperating with them to make the game better.

    And really, since I don’t have a huge horse in the race, not being presently subbed and all, I have larger concerns about how the industry tries to play copycat. Blizzard can tinker with the game and I really don’t mind. Monkeying around with things best left alone out in this “real world” is dangerous business, and not the same thing at all as waxing paranoid about Druid nerfs or talent trees.

    Crazytown? Nope, no need to go there… but if Blizzard wants to drag us there, I’m going to oppose it.

  18. Escobar says:

    /facepalm

    Um…nice to know that extreme cynicism is alive and well and…yeah, I can’t finish that sentence.

    Throughout this entire debacle, I was pretty partial to the “VP has idea following severe head trauma, sycophants too afraid to say no” angle. Somewhere, GC and a bunch of other dudes are STILL going, “Holycrapwedodgedabulletonthatone!”

    I, for one, am back to my regularly scheduled programming of killing internet dragons and taking their stuff and being excited about the GOOD Cataclysm changes.

  19. Aelinna says:

    Hooray for a positive outlook. Maybe the next authenticator will require spinal access, but until that day I’m prepared to let this go. We got what we wanted, this time, and when the next crisis happens we can fight that too.

    Is Tribee too cutesy?

  20. Sarabian says:

    Thank you, Blizzard. Seriously.

  21. Elvgren says:

    Sorry. No rainbow.

    The key phrase in MM’s response was “at this time”. That pretty much says it all. I believe Activision DID back down because of the uproar … but only long enough to scout a new trail to their intended goal. That goal being the wallets of the Facebook generation. I also believe Activision is intentionally shaking the trees (pun intended) to get as many old timers out of the game as they can so they have unfettered access to said generation. The adult gaming community, as a whole, is older, smarter, and more thoughtful than the short attention span theater crowd. We tend to think longer term. We object to things. We are in the way.

    Is it a great conspiracy? No. It’s very public and obvious. I’ll ride it out as long as I can because of the friends I’ve made and wanting to still spend time with them. But because I want to spend time, not extra cash, I very much doubt I’ll be playing WoW this time next year.

  22. Kav says:

    “The adult gaming community, as a whole, is older, smarter, and more thoughtful than the short attention span theater crowd. We tend to think longer term. We object to things. We are in the way.”

    I disagree. I’m 23. Been playing games since Zelda came out. Not like atari but I’m in between your two age groups. Young gamers aren’t as stupid as you believe. You act like they would sign any dotted line. Just because we are young doesn’t make us stupid. The youth you speak of are few and far between IMO. I don’t think you are giving them the credit they deserve. I think that there were more youth gamers saying no to Real ID that adults.

    And Lawl conspiracy. 9/11 was planned by the US government too.

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