Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Carrots For Account Identity

I didn't comment on Blizzard's ill-fated effort at attaching players' real names to forum posts last week because there wasn't an incentive design issue to discuss.  But perhaps there should have been. 

DDO, WoW, and EQ2 all have bind-to-account/heirloom items that cannot be given to other players but can be transferred to your own alts on the same server.  In WoW, one of the uses for this mechanic is to pass along reputation-only head and shoulder item enchants that can only be obtained through grinding factions to your alts once you have completed the grind once.  EQ2 allows basically all dungeon loot, along with dungeon and world event tokens, and some faction rewards to be transferred. 

Most interestingly, a newly added EQ2 feature lets you short-circuit the lengthy scavenger hunt needed to learn the Draconic languge (needed for epic weapon quests) once you have completed it once.  Blizzard had expressed a desire for a similar method for raid attunement quests, but never implemented this feature and, instead, took the easier step of slashing reputation requirements before removing attunements entirely for almost all dungeons. 

If you were looking to convince players that they want to switch over to some sort of account-wide identity, the way to do it is not with the implicit threat that someone will find your real world home.  The way to do it is to say that publicly linking your characters to your account identity allows you to share certain achievements, like raid attunements or heirlooms.  (After all, it's only fair that other players can see why it is that this particular character gets to skip a major timesink.)  Then, provide a peer-to-peer comment moderation system to mod down trolls, with posts that aren't linked to an account identity (including your non-identified alts) starting out with less benefit of the doubt. 

The real trolls won't care about trashing their account's reputation, but they were equally unconcerned about this when it the identity in question was their real name.  For everyone else, you get 90% of the benefit of reduced anonymity with 0% of the potentially serious issues raised by RealID.  Meanwhile, players might actually like the feature because it comes with a benefit, rather than a vague and hypothetical improvement to the quality of the forums that might not have been effective in any case. 


Longasc said...

Well, they will find ways to impose their idea to connect us all to facebook and make business with us this way.

Did you really have to write this? I am kinda horrified that they will lure us into their not really that wonderful real id world exactly in the way you described it! :(

Green Armadillo said...

For straight up advertising, they don't actually need realID because they ALREADY KNOW your name. As to social advertising, I think that will remain a tough sell because people will be equally suspicious of any real name system even if it is opt-in (which, technically, the WoW forums are).

Stabs said...

While the exact details of what motivates RealID remain murky it seems likely that it depends upon real names, not simply an account pseudonym.

As a number of commentators have pointed out most of the complaints were obvious and would have been raised internally before the system went live. But they still wanted to try to get players to put our real names out there.

Regarding incentives I think you could be on the right track. If instead of saying you MUST use RealID they had said using RealID gets you points and when you save up enough points you can buy items in our RealID store lots of people would have gone for it. Bit like DDO's offerwall.

Both cases illustrate that privacy must remain in the control of players and that poor privacy management hurts developers.

Xaxziminrax the Second said...

There was a Derren Brown show where he explained that if you want a favor you know you're not going to get, ask for an even BIGGER favor first! That way, it gives the impression the actual favor is quite small.

"Excuse me, Sir. May I have a dollar to buy some lunch?" is one way.

"Excuse me, Sir. I'm a bit short for a lunch. You wouldn't happen to have five dollars, would you?" and when refused, "Not even a dollar? Just a dollar to spare?"

It really bends perspective in your favor. I can't help but think that Blizzard wouldn't let an opportunity like this pass. So their five-dollar was RealID on the forums, what's their one-dollar? What's the thing we would have said no to, unless they put it into perspective with RealID?

Bri said...

I don't think anyone has a problem with an account-wide identity. Many players would opt-in for that in a heartbeat as the benefits are obvious without artificial incentives.

The problem is the account-wide identifier is your real name. I don't want my real name publicly attached to my account, no matter how many heirlooms or grind shortcuts you dangle.

Anonymous said...

The idea of linking characters to each other for leveling incentives, etc. is interesting.

However, do note that level 1 characters created for the specific purpose of trolling the forums anonymously do not need any sort of leveling items/ raiding resume/ etc. and the owner would thus not care about linking that character to the rest.