Blizzard may have about-turned on the decision to require and use people's real names for the StarCraft II and World of Warcraft forums, but the social gaming platform goals of the Real ID feature remain.
"It's no secret," admitted Blizzard in a Q&A on VG247. "As we've discussed openly since we first started sharing our plans about the new Battle.net, one of our goals is for it to serve as a social gaming service for Blizzard gamers.
"This was a deliberate and open design decision, driven 100 per cent by the desire to create an even better online experience for our players by giving them powerful tools to compete with and stay connected to their real-life friends and family."
Real ID stores people's real first names and surnames so that other people can befriend them across multiple games and recognise their real-life friends.
Another neutered Real ID feature is the "friends of friends" search. This was designed to offer a "convenient" way to scour friends' lists for people you might also know. But Blizzard has since decided that people may opt-out of showing up on search results.
"Friends of friends" searches will be available for StarCraft II "shortly after release" and for World of Warcraft "at around the same time".
Helping people populate their Battle.net friends will be Facebook. Integration with the world's largest social networking site requires no information to be disclosed, but means anybody else with a Battle.net account on your Facebook friends list will be quickly displayed. From there you can send them Real ID Battle.net friend requests.
Instead of using Real ID names, the StarCraft II forums now require a character code plus character name of all who would like to post. Character name is the single name used for Battle.net that is tied to your game license. When this unique name is picked, a three digit character code will be generated.
Blizzard has previously said this would translate to World of Warcraft around the time of expansion Cataclysm's launch. But exactly how remains unknown.
"StarCraft II already uses a character name and character code combo in-game, which serves as a unique player identifier and fits well with our goal for the forums. World of Warcraft handles player identification differently, so we still need to determine whether adding a character code system like in StarCraft II is the best solution," explained Blizzard. "Ultimately, we want to come up with a system that makes sense for each community and fits our long-term vision for the forums."
Blizzard added there are "no plans" to alter Real ID so made-up names can be used instead of real names.
"That said," the company added, "Battle.net is a living, breathing service that we will continue to evolve over time as we evaluate how players are using it and identify new ways to improve the experience."
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will be released simultaneously on 27th July on PC and Mac.
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