Warcraft gamers to get 'Real ID'

Blizzard will implement a new voluntary social-network system that lets online games know the real identity of their in-game playmates.

There are more than 10 million people playing World of Warcraft worldwide; most stay anonymous to one another. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

You've been teaming up with that hot night elf in the World of Warcraft , killing thousands of mobs and doing hundreds of instance runs with her, and yet you don't know if she is actually a girl in real life? Now there's a way for you to possibly find out.

Blizzard announced early this week that together with the launch of patch 3.3.5 for WoW, it will offer a new feature called "Read ID." This is a voluntary, optional level of identity designed to keep players connected even outside of WoW.

In fact, the company says that as long as you play games that use its Battle.net online gaming service, which currently includes WoW and the upcoming Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3, you will be able to stay in touch with playmates.

According to Blizzard, the new Real ID features include:

  • Real names for friends: Your Real ID friends will appear under their real-life names on your friends list, when you're chatting, communicating in-game, or viewing a character's profile. Real ID friends can also see who's on one another's Real ID friends list, making it easy for players to connect with other people they know.

  • Cross-realm and cross-game chat: With Real ID, friends can chat cross-realm and cross-faction in World of Warcraft, and will be able to chat across future Blizzard games such as StarCraft II.

  • "Rich Presence": See additional real-time information on your friends list about what your Real ID friends are up to in World of Warcraft and upcoming games like StarCraft II.

  • Broadcasts: Broadcast a short status message for all of your Real ID friends to see, whether you want to issue a call to arms or let your friends know about an important change of plans.

  • Friend once, see all characters: Real ID friends will automatically see all of each other's characters on their friends list--even characters created in future Blizzard games--helping players stay connected with the people they enjoy playing with most.

To access this feature, both you and your friend must become Real ID friends. Earlier this month, Blizzard implemented a feature that works the other way around, allowing beta testers of Starcraft 2 to add Facebook friends as in-game playmates .

This new Real ID feature will further enhance the social-networking aspect of Battle.net. For many players, this is a good news as they can still stay in touch with buddies and guildies once they have moved, temporarily or not, from one game to another.

Blizzard says that together with Real ID, it will be updating its parental controls system, giving parents the ability to decide whether their child can participate in Real ID. This also potentially means parents can decide with whom their kids can play.

About the author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

 

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