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.
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.
See, that was me there. Thanking Blizzard.
Look, I’ll do it again.
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”.
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.