World of Warcraft fans rail against Blizzard real names plan

Activision Blizzard, maker of World of Warcraft and other popular videogames, is drawing fire over its plan to require users of its discussion forums to start posting their real names.

Blizzard announced on Tuesday that it would begin introducing the "Real ID" feature to its official bulletin boards and the move to require real first and last names has drawn hundreds of comments, most of them negative.

Blizzard said in a blog post that the change was intended to "help improve the quality of conversations and make the forums an even more enjoyable place for players to visit."

"The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players," it said.

"However, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild," Blizzard said.

"Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven't been connected before."

Most of the feedback from fans of Blizzard's online role-playing games denounced the real names requirement.

"I can't even begin to fathom why you would do this," wrote "Tophia."

"Even as someone who hates the fact that these forums are a joke and overrun with trolls and morons... I can't stress enough how terrible a solution this is," said "Whiplashr." "I don't want my real name out there."

"With this decision, you are going to alienate so many people from these forums. Myself included," said "Pyrogx." "I will never post in a gaming forum where my real name is displayed. Ever."

"Tacotruck" supported the move. "I look forward to this change. The trolling has always been terribly annoying on Blizz forums."

Blizzard is not the only online operation grappling with the question of anonymity on the Web.

US newspapers have also been debating the practice of allowing anonymous comments and The Buffalo News announced last month it will begin requiring real names from people who want to leave comments on its website.

World of Warcraft, which was launched in 1994, is the most popular multiplayer online role-playing game with more than 11 million monthly subscribers.