Tuesday, October 18, 2005

MMOG Mailbag Misfires

Got a couple of email missives this morning that really jarred my apricots.

First up, Blizzard sent World of Warcraft players a lengthy screed about an uptick in account theft and related fraud. Included in the letter was a dire warning about the dangers of downloading cheat programs, since they can include viruses and other nasties.

Funny, since this comes shortly after the revelation on Blue's News and elsewhere that WoW itself contains spyware.

That's right, the game you spent 40 bucks on plus your monthly fee regularly sniffs out the titles of open windows on your computer -- programs, email addresses, URLs, document titles -- and happily ships them off to Blizzard, who I'm sure has your best interests at heart.

Everyone got that?

Spyware that comes from the various internets: bad.

Spyware that comes from Blizzard: good!

Next up, City of Heroes sent players a note informing us of a character name policy change. Characters below level 35 who haven't been logged in in 90 days will have their names up for grabs for any active player.

What the fuck?

Is there anything more fundamental to identity than your name? In an online game, your avatar's name is your touchstone for relationships, networks, community, reputation. Is there any faster way to shred a player's connection to a game than to rip that away?

It's not like names take up any significant database space. I cannot understand why these games make it anything other than easy, seamless, and painless to restart a moribund account.

Back in our Star Wars Galaxies days, The Boyfriend logged back in after a long absence to discover that his house, factories, and all stored goods had vanished. No way to get them back. Pure restart for his character, in effect. Think he kept his account?

NCSoft says this policy change is due to player feedback. Yeah.

It's spelled "player feedback" but is pronounced, "Oh God oh God please please come back and play our game! World of Warcraft ate our lunch and soon DC Online and Marvel Online will launch and pick our bones clean. Please PLEASE oh God come back and play our game!!"

And since when are players so lacking in creativity and individualism that they demand a community-wrecking policy so that they can finally get that coveted name Sp1ddorzMan335?

Jeez. It's like, if Frank fails to call his Mom for a few weeks, his brother gets to be Frank.

It's okay, there's always Frank01.

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