Yesterday morning, a bomb went off on the official World of Warcraft forums in the form of an announcement that the use of players real first and last names would become mandatory on the forums. Though a handful of players agreed with the change, a massive tide of hate has been flowing towards Blizzard since the reveal. Feel free to check out the official announcement and the well over one 21,000 posts which have followed it to see the outrage for yourself.
Many speclate that this is a first step towards making the use of real life first and last names, or Real ID, mandatory in game. As a parallel, Battle.net started out as "optional" for World of Warcraft players, but now it is a prerequisite for play.
As players' frustration about the looming change grows many people are stuck as to what to do about it. Thankfully, there are a number of steps you can take to express your displeasure at Blizzard's decision about how to govern the use your personal information. First, consider lodging a complaint with the ESRB. All of Blizzard and Activision's major game related websites are Privacy Certified by the ESRB. If you feel the changes coming to the World of Warcraft forums run afoul of that certification, file a complaint using the ESRB's Online Complaint Form.
Second, voice your concerns on the official World of Warcraft forums. The change to using real first and last names has not happened yet and old posts will not be modified when the change occurs, so your personal information is not yet at risk should you post. The posts expressing outrage at Blizzard's proposal have likely already exceeded one hundred thousand, but each customer who posts makes it harder for Blizzard to argue that they listen to their subscribers and address their concerns.
Lastly, if you are incredibly passionate about the issue, you may need to vote with your wallet. I do not plan on canceling my subscription, I will simply forever forgo posting on the official forums. Should, however, Blizzard decide that my real first and last name ought to become a part of my actual game play, I will immediately walk away. I also will be forced to leave should my inability to post on the support forums prevent a technical issue from being timely resolved. You may feel more strongly than I do, however, and decide that either the decision itself or the direction it indicates Blizzard is taking is contrary to your preferences. I know a couple of my in game and online friends decided enough was enough and are in the process of cancelling their subscriptions. As a heads up, many of them have reported that the cancelation system is backlogged because of the announcement.
In light of the overwhelming criticism this decision has been buried with, it will be amusing to see if Blizzard cares enough about its forum community and player base to back pedal. I do not suspect they will. At this point, I can only hope that the mandatory use of players' real first and last names on the official forums will be the only terrible decision Blizzard makes in the near future.