Blizzard likes Farmville, too bad we are the sheep

I am pretty sure that this will be my last post about Real ID and it’s implementation into the forums.

EDIT: Blizzard has since announced that real names will not be required on the forums. Also I do not plan to quit the game at this time. I am removing all the other hasitly written edits to this post in an effort to make it half assed legible again. Anything else on this topic will be rolled into its own post.

Not because I don’t have anything more to say after this, but because the next thing I say will be goodbye. Actually I had a long talk with my kids that possibility yesterday and we all agreed that would be the next logical step.

Just as an FYI Blizzard, even a couple of WoW loving teenagers like mine can see how monumentally stupid this is. They are willing to quit as well, and are simply waiting for me to make the call when to pull the trigger on all our accounts.

The thing with that is that Blizzard could care less.


The conversation, particularly with my son, got me to doing a lot of thinking on this.

Not about how stupid it is, because it’s not stupid. We just see it from the wrong point of view.

Not about how people are going to get hurt, or even how likely a few will die as a direct result.

There was one question my son asked that flipped a light switch in the part of my brain that loves making buckets of gold in the auction house.


He simply asked “Why are they doing this?”


Such a simple question, and yet not.


Blizzard is not doing this to clean up the forums, that could be done in a dozen or more ways that have nothing to do with compromising the identities of its player base.

It also has nothing to do with the evil genius at the helm of Activision-Blizzard sitting in his office twirling his mustache while figuring out new ways to hurt his customers.

In the world of business, especially big money business, it simply does not work like that.

This is about money, and lots of it.


Businesses make their money by keeping their customers happy.

What  a lot of people don’t realize (or choose to forget) is that the player is not the customer.

The players of Blizzard games (or any company’s games for that matter) are no more the customer than the sheep are the shepherds customer.

They are the resource, the source of the profit.

You, me, my kids, everyone that plays the game are just part of Blizzards vast herd of sheep.

Like the sheep, players need to be fed and maintained just enough shiny new things to keep us nice and docile so that we are still around, still making wool (or paying $15 a month as the case might be).

The stockholders of the company are the real customers.

When you are wondering why in the hell they come up with ideas remember a lot depends on your point of view.

Just as a Shepard would gladly feed a few sheep to the wolves if it ment getting thousands more in return, so Blizzard has no problem losing a few of its long term customers in exchange for a whole lot of new ones.


The thing to ask is that knowing how many of their sheep they expect to lose, and knowing that the creation and implementation of this is going to cost them considerable capital, not just in cash and loss of developer time but also loss of  goodwill and bad press,  why do it?

What are they gaining?

How does this benefit the customer?

Show me how this makes them money, because that my friends is what is the driving force behind this.


I know that somewhere, likely in a meeting room in Irvine, the decision to enter social media was made.

Someone standing at the head of a table, likely near a Powerpoint projector, convinced a group of people that this would make the company a profit.

I can see that somewhere the decision to gather all of the gamers that play Blizzard games under one banner was made.

Someone, maybe even the same one, convinced the powers that be that this would generate revenue as well.

I can see the company intentionally making it harder (and i predict it getting ever harder) to keep your gaming separate from any other internet presence you might have.

This like everything else was approved at a board meeting and expected to turn a profit.


The big question here is not whether Real ID is good or bad.

Just like forcing people to put their real name out there, to essentially out themselves as gamers, is not the issue.

It is in fact the desired result.


Blizzard is, in my opinion, attempting to overcome the social stigma in this country against gaming and gamers in general. They are doing this by slowly (though not slowly enough, some of the sheep are noticing) becoming one with social media.

That is why they partnered with Facebook.

That is why there are IPhone apps.

That’s why Ozzy played Blizzcon.

That is why Mr. T is still on my television tossing mohawk grenades, and why William Shatner is casting chain lighting.

That, my friends, does not come free.

Blizzard is paying good money to try to make its games more and more mainstream.

How do they see that investment paying off?


I  believe that this has very little to do with World of Warcraft as a franchise, or even with the Starcraft series of games. I believe that we are starting to see glimpses of are shadows what the Next Gen MMO they are creating has in store for us.

We can’t see the game, but you can see it’s influence like ripples on a pond tell you something disturbed the waters.

The next generation game is going to try to capture the social media crowd as well, and will likely be partially integrated into Facebook. I don’t know how they plan to implement it, I don’t know what the game will be, and I don’t know exactly when it will happen.

But I am not fool enough to think Blizzard doesn’t want to harness the Farmville crowd as well. After all, they have proven very adept at herding sheep.


Don’t honestly tell me you thought they entered into a partnership with Facebook just because they wanted to do an export friends list feature. 

They partnered with Facebook to make money. That is what businesses do.


Just like the ripples in the pond told me something made a splash, I can see ripples of corporate policy coming through in some of what is happening.


Those ripples tell me that social media is the way they are headed, and noting we can say or do is going to stop it.


In fact, I can guarantee you that on that Powerpoint slide show was a graph.

A graph that showed how many of us old timers they plan to feed to the wolves, and how many more new sheep they will get in return.

Someone smiled when they looked at that graph, said “Let’s do this” and then went and bought the speaker a cup of coffee.


Just another day at the office.


29 Responses

  1. Well said. Until warcraft I was not a multiplayer type person. I don’t do first person shooters. I don’t play online at all, aside from warcraft. So this change by Activision/Blizzard is driving me away. Guess I’ll be happy once I get a console box again and a solid stable of single player games. Or I’ll just be happy with my retro games 🙂

  2. Is some very good reasonings in here.

  3. Will be sad to see you go but I don’t blame you at all. I do find it a little funny that everybody feels like Blizzard has cheated on them in order to make some money though, I’m in that crowd but it’s still a funny image!

    • As long as I can in fact keep RL and the game seperate I will likely continue to play. As soon as I can’t well, then I pull the plug.

      As far as cheating on my to make money, I honestly don’t see it that way. The are a business and making money is thier job.

  4. […] Blizzard likes Farmville, too bad we are the sheep Blizzard is, in my opinion, attempting to overcome the social stigma in this country against gaming and gamers in general. They are doing this by slowly (though not slowly enough, some of the sheep are noticing) becoming one with social media. […]

  5. […] cases played this game for 5 years, the less I like it, and the angrier I get. Go ahead and read Dechion’s post on the subject. I’m pretty sure he’s got the right of things, which makes me even angrier, because […]

  6. I agree with everything you’ve said here. I am far far more afraid of the expansion of Facebook and the data it is gathering on us all after digging around online this week as a result of the RealID news. I would hate to stop playing Warcraft because of this, but I fear that maybe the only option if things move the way they appear to be.

  7. Might want to check the news, Blizzard has backed off of implementing Real ID in the forums…

  8. […] is another excellent write-up about the business side of all this mess here. I’d urge you to read […]

  9. Some excellent points here, especially with respect to Activision Blizzard following the money. And oh by the way: Those points are still pertinent and germane, despite Blizzard’s reversal on the RealID in the forums issue.

    Interestingly, I’ve seen more trollish comments on WoW blogs in the past three days, than I’ve seen in the past three years. It’s going to be interesting indeed to see how Blizzard deals with trolls going forward.

    • I hope they deal with them the same way I do,

      Nuke their comments from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.

  10. Spot on.

    Well done in opposing this, we’ve won for now.

  11. Their end goal with this RealID vision of theirs is most certainly about profit and revenue. But to what end? I didn’t have an answer for that until reading your post. It makes perfect sense that they are ramping up for their next game.

    Well done! =D

  12. I was the same: “follow the money” is all well and good, but when you don’t see where the money is actually going, that makes things tough.

    The Next Big Thing from Act/Blizz is the perfect fit.

    I don’t really think they (Blizz/Act/whomever) *really* expected the shitstorm they got. I think they expected some pushback , but not the level that they got. I think the final nail in the temporary coffin was the one Blizzard employee’s getting “not so virtually assaulted” by putting his name out there.

    Do I think they really care about our safety? No, more wolf fodder as far as the “big picture” goes, BUT , it made them realize that all it would take is one death or brutal rape, directly attributed to RealID, and their game was over.

    And THAT would cause them to lose money.

    I still think that the core of RealID will end up where we saw it now. I just think that moving forward with The Next Big Thing, the real names will be assiciated from the get-go.

    Cross pollination between Blizz/Act and FB just has too many dollar (or pound/euro/yen) notes associated with it to be ignored.

    agaion, well done 🙂

    • I agree.. damn I forgot to mention it in my post.

      I think RealID has gone back to sleep.

      But the next big game (whether Blizzard’s or someone elses), will just use “RealID” from the moment you sign up.. that will become the norm.

      It will just simply be a condition of purchase/activation

  13. What an excellent post.

    The new corporate base for financing is not the individual customer, but other corporations. And it’s not always corporations.

    as an example, I was at a conference for urban transit. And one of the main foci for this conference was in how to raise money to build and maintain the infrastructure for urban rail. And it was not from raising ticket prices – the best way to do it, so they touted, was to have businesses advertise on trains, buses, etc.

    And I think you’re right. I, for one, am currently on cloud 9 about Blizzard’s decision. A lot of my faith has been restored. But I’m not really a fanboi – I always have an undercurrent of suspicion regarding motives.

    The things is, I don’t mind if the business makes money, and keeps trying to make more money. I don’t mind if they want to integrate with Facebook, and I sure as hell don’t mind if you are right (and it makes sense) and they are trying to increase societal acceptance of gaming.

    What matters to me is what I, and the community at large, would be forced to sacrifice in order to get them what they want.

    Fantastic post!

  14. […] bothers other people, and I can see why. But what if this isn’t just about the forums? I read this earlier today. Hate to be a tinfoil-hat kind of guy here, but what if Blizzard planned the massive […]

  15. I’ve already canceled my subscription, but I’ve read that Blizzard keeps your billing info (including whatever stats they’ve gleaned from your activity) unless you request a purge…

    Also in order to even get to the screen to cancel my subscription I was forced to agree to new Terms of Service, which explicitly allow Blizzard to sell this information to third parties, where Blizzard can’t be held responsible for how it is used.

    Do I need to request a purge or do you think its safe, or am I already screwed? The repercussions of whatever personal info Blizzard sells are unforeseeable which is greatly disheartening, and I wonder if they haven’t already sold it (or can lie and ignore my request to purge, then sell my info off and if I ever come back say that they sold it before I requested the purge…)

    I don’t know what to do at this point…

    • I am reasonably sure that if you request the destruction of your data that it will be deleted from all their databases and never sold to a third party.

      On thing to keep in mind however, in the event you ever decide to come back you will be starting from ground zero. Part of deleting everything about you is the complete deletion of all your character information.

  16. Like the post and share many of the views you do.

    Also made me think, did we, with our uproar, shorten the quality/lifespan of WoW?

    They obviously want this social merge badly and if they cant get it through semi-peacefully in warcraft, then it seems logical the focus will probably shift a bit to the new mmo.

    Maybe im just reading too far into it because obviously they have a lot of development tied up in Cata but it makes me wonder how much fuel is left in warcraft.

  17. As bleak and heartbreaking as the scenario you’ve outlined in your post is, I have a feeling it’s probably close to what really happened.

    And that’s very sad, to see a company that used to be ‘for gamers by gamers’ become another soulless corporate monster. Too much success is poisonous, apparently.

    • I see it less of being a soulless corporate monster and simply having to live in the world of big business.

      Some of the decisions that they make really don’t make any sense at all to people like you and I, but I truly think they have the best interests of both the game and thier customers at heart.

      They are simply making decisions using information that we don’t have.

  18. Ah, but there IS something you can do about it.

    One, you can talk about it, inform others. As you have here.

    Two, don’t just ‘vote with your dollars’ by moving your money from one bad egg to a slightly less bad one. Instead of dropping WoW and subscribing to a different MMO, drop WoW and send the subscription fee to a consumer protection group instead.

    In my case, I send my $45 to the EFF (and told them as much). They’ll make better use of that money than Activision will.

  19. RealID, Social Theory and Blizzard’s Community Problems…

    So, rather late in the day, it’s time for me to weigh in on the biggest issue that came up while I was away: Wow. Russia has incompetent but very sexy spies. This makes me feel better about the world…….

  20. This sort of thing happens when any company gets too big. Blizzard are no excpetion.

    All the same Starcraft 2 is out in UK next week – and I’m getting it



    • It comes out here on Tuesday (7/27) and though I won’t be getting it that day I will have soon thereafter.

      Oddly enough I don’t begrudge Blizz for wanting to make money… thats what businesses do. What bothers me is the way they went about it.

      Hell, I want them to make piles of money, that way they can continue producing great games for me to play. =)

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