Archive for July, 2010
I got a comment from a user named Bristal about my last post. I wanted to reply more in depth so I made it a new post. Here is the comment:
Clearly it is a move toward the (incredibly successful) trend of social networking sites to create a usable member community that represents value.
The case that it’s in all ways BAD is what I’m not clear about.
Isn’t it inevitable that playing an MMO-type game on the computer will be associated with some type of social/community network? Companies like Blizzard with millions of subscribers and a near-monopoly on a quality MMO cannot afford not to attempt something like this.
The Facebook database is worth BILLIONS. Much of it potential earnings, much like the early dot com years of creating nearly useless websites and selling them for millions. Most of us wondered what all that was about, too.
It seems to me that a social network functionality would obviously improve player organization, allow fansites for players, help police idiotism, in short, do some of the things Blizzard has been criticized for not doing.
Not to say that Blizzard is doing it right way, at the right time, or that there isn’t significant risk in pissing many of us off.
But it certainly seems inevitable.
It has to have value to the user. The value of Bliz selling our identities to Facebook does not move us as consumers. It is only the value that they provide to US, the users. In the end that is what will make or break them.
Value in anonymity
And this is what they lost sight of. They forgot that for a large number of us players there is value in insulation. I don’t play WOW to be known as myself. Anonymity has value. Having an alternate persona also has value. In many realms of life we have insulation. We might not talk about politics with our prayer group or religion at work, We might not talk about sports with our spouse or what we do in the bedroom with anyone outside of it. There are many aspects of life we like to keep segregated into their own channels. For example I don’t want to know how my guild-mates voted in the last election because knowing that might make it harder for me to respect them. In game I respect them for their in game activities. I have played MMOs with a wide variety of people and the level of anonymity they provide has allowed me to make a connection with them that is deeper than what I might have made had I known more. Good or bad people make judgments about others. Removing the veil of secrets does not make that go away.
Some people seem to want a vast experiment where no one has secrets from anyone. Personally I want no part of that. People need their spaces and their outlets. How many times have you heard someone lament that someone found their blog that they did not want to see it. Or someone read their email, or someone’s parents got on facebook and wanted to be their friend.
Value in connection
There is a fine line between too much connection and too little. In WOW since launch there has been too little. Server populations are not that high compared to the population of the game. So the chance of you meeting a fellow WOWite in real life and being on the same server was very low. And there was no way to change servers. Then they added ways to do that but you have to pay money and leave everyone you know in game behind. So there is simply no way to play with people you know unless they deliberately sacrifice for you (or you for them) by rerolling (and leveling for weeks) or by leaving all their old friends.
That has not changed. There is still very little way to keep with IRL peopled or to go play with them in game if you did not level together.
But they have added tools. For example anyone can see your armory and see what you are up to online… SO? That is not a connection that is a window. They provided a window whereby strangers could see what you were doing like a bug under glass.
They also added cross sever BG and instances. Very cool! Except… no connections there either. You have no control over who you get from another server. You only have a limited server pool and you have no way to keep in contact with someone after the run. Connection made. Connection instantly broken.
Doing it wrong
Then came Real ID. We can monitor and talk to friends. So we can see what they are up to but we still can’t PLAY with them unless one of us server transfers or rerolls. So the VALUE, to the actual USER is very limited. Personally the only use I have for it is to see if the ONE IRL friend I have in game is online. Then I have to log over to a different server if I want to play with that friend. Of course a quick loggin over there would have told me the same thing. And the PRICE of this limited utility was that I have to give up my identity to anyone I want to connect with. So to gain a small utility I have to give up all that. Which means I can only use it for IRL friends. And that means the pool of people I can connect with through Real ID goes from dozens to just one. And the ‘value’ all but evaporates.
What we WANTED and the player base was asking for was cross server friends list. That and some way to party up with them and dungeon together. Not with real names, with character names. Sometimes people want space even from their guild. Maybe they have a secret alt they go to when drama shows up. There is nothing wrong with that. So why is Bliz making it harder to do? They dangle a carrot of utility before us and then demand the price of total privacy loss. “We will install a telephone in your house if you agree to move to a house of glass.”
Cross server friends and parties. That was the next logical and useful step. Selling their and our souls to Facebook was NOT it. Hanging the privacy of their player base out for all the scammers, hackers and stalkers to see was NOT the next logical inevitable answer.
What makes me mad they are doing it based on their (some Executive’s) ideas of what the internet social scene should be and completely ignoring what the players want.
Yeah I would not mind checking if someone of my FB friends play WOW. But since I can’t actually play with them without a server transfer then it does not matter. So there is very little VALUE to me there. But on the other hand since I have a unique name and the industry I work for DOES discriminate against gamers…. There is a LOT of value for me in anonymity.
So Bliz making deals does not impress me. Selling my identity does not impress me. Yeah who I am has value to other companies (ads and what not) but I am not interested in participating. It does not give value to ME, the playing customer. If you piss off your customers to make a buck you are doomed. I seriously think they are jumping the shark on this one.
It is bad enough that they implement this sort of change (Real ID on the forums for those that have been under a rock) that is so full of fail and certain to drive thousands of mature and thoughtful potential posters away… but I think the worst part for me is the lies. Seriously do they expect us to believe this is an anti troll plan? That is the reason they gave. Total garbage. Anyone with half a brain knows that it will not keep rudeness away. And anyone with 3/4 of a brain will connect this change to their partnering up with Facebook.
But do they come out and tell us what their plans to manipulate our ‘social gaming’ are? No. They just make vague hints about a larger plan and then claim reasons for this change that are clearly nonsense.
Blizzard is burning through their store of player trust in a terrible hurry.
Personally I want the executive who thought this up fired and I want his resume on a pike.
Post Certified 100% RealID Angst Free!
So last night Reversion and I got on our level 80 SAN alts – my pally, his druid – and ran a few randoms for badges; I need the heirloom bow for a hunter I want to roll. We queued up. The second heroic we got was DTK. Our DPS were a shaman, a hunter, and a dk. Right off the bat, the hunter pulls. I pick up the aggro, figuring it could have been a tab target issue. We kill things, finish buffing, start down the hallway.
Then the hunter and DK start speaking in tongues not even a Pentecostal would recognize. Took us a couple phrases to decide that no, they were not speaking another language. We noted the pair was from the same server but different guilds, shrugged, and played along, throwing some random Japanese and a few nonsense words out there. Trollgore died, we went upstairs. I notice the hunter isn’t following us as we move toward the summoner boss. Who cares; things are dying fast and I’m starting to suspect this guy is fooling with us.
“Skip this” the dk says as we enter the summoner’s room. First time I’ve ever been asked to skip that boss. We ignore him, the shaman triggers the boss by running past him, and we kill him down. The hunter rejoined us at some point. We proceed.
“Skip this one,” the hunter asks as we near King Dred.
“We’re here for badges,” we explain, and I pull raptors.
“Fine,” he snits. “You kill him. [dk] come over here.”
They proceed to go hide in a corner. The shaman says nothing – and pops Heroism as soon as we pull the boss. Awesome.
I notice that the hunter is now displaying his Kingslayer title. As expected, this is a Big Raider here for Frost badges and nothing else. Ah well, who cares.
On the upper landing, he starts pulling trash. I try to let him get killed but the shaman, who I’m not resentful of, keeps dpsing and pulling aggro. So I kill things. Then he runs down to the end of the hall, shoots a couple. We’re well clear and I’m going to let him eat a few hits – but the mobs start running right for Reversion, who is healing. Yup. He misdirected to the healer.
I easily pick up aggro. He and his dk bud are upstairs already. “[Shaman] don’t get aggro,” I say, as the dk dies. I keep trying to kick the hunter. First, I still had time to go (This was annoying, I’d have sworn that I was one of the sort of people who rarely kicks and should get insta-kick rights!). Then it kept being too soon after combat.
The DK released and was running back; I’m pretty sure he didn’t expect a rez. The hunter, meanwhile, engaged the boss while the rest of us stood around well away. He must have fake died and reset it, because the boss stopped talking and the hunter wasn’t dead.
Finally, there it was, the vote kick option. “The vote to kick [Huntard] has passed,” my screen said, and I declined to pick up another person.
“[DK], you going to play nice or should we three man this?” Reversion asked.
“I’ll be good,” he promised, and since he was already back, we went ahead and took out the boss.
“[Hunter] is my rl friend but I’ll tell him he’s an a**hole,” the DK added after we finished the boss.
We shared a laugh and told the DK he was ok even if his friend wasn’t. The whole thing put a smile on my face. That hunter was back in the queue to get his frost badges, due for another 15 minute wait because he could not be civil for one fast dungeon run.
And I had a decent start toward that heirloom bow.
Wow.Com is reporting that Blizzard is changing their forum posting system so that your real name will now be displayed when you post.
This is a bad idea.
A bad, bad idea.
If your name is John Smith, you may not think this is so bad. The chance of anyone connecting the Blizzard forum posting John Smith to you is pretty low.
But if your name is Dena Anschwelter, or Lyndon Frellingham, you might see the problem. I used to be a lot less concerned about my real name online; my name was basically the same level of common as, say, Jennifer Brown. But then I got married and it changed to being an absolutely unique id; nobody else has the same first and last name as me. Nobody has the same first and last name as my husband. 50% of online references to [our last name] are us or our immediate family. All of a sudden I got a lot more paranoid.
I have my facebook settings locked so nobody but my friends can see my stuff, and I don’t post things I don’t want getting out. So this change really bothers me. Not that I troll on forums, but that there is a gaming stigma in real life, and I don’t really want people like prospective employers (I am working on being a freelance programmer) seeing that I’m into WoW. I’m just not ok with that, and Blizzard should be more sensitive to me.
There’s a lot of ways to get their stated desires – less trolling, less anonymous idiocy – without using real names.
This had better not be retroactive. I won’t be posting on Blizzard’s forums ever again.
Which means the next time something happens like, say, an official discussion of whether I like Tree Form or not, that affects my class later on, my voice won’t be heard.
I know Blizzard won’t care, but I do.