ADDED This is what I get for being late to the party and carefully considering how I feel about an issue. As various comments have stated, the policy has been rescinded before it was ever put into place. Someone got smart.
I haven’t really been doing much gaming, lately, and what I have been doing has been mainly Star Trek: Online. Nevertheless, I have enough World of Warcraft players in my world that I became aware of the advent of RealID pretty much from day one. Most of them seemed pretty happy with it, since, among other things, it enables the ability to chat with people on other servers and other factions. This is a big shift in the social architecture of the game, which previously restricted in-game chat to people on the same server and on the same “side” (Alliance vs. Horde).
But a RealID is an e-mail address, which is Problem Number One. Now, everyone can see a player’s e-mail address. Oh, sure, one can probably cons up a free e-mail address that has nothing to do with them in any other context easily enough, and use that in-game only. A lot of people, however, won’t think about that. None of my friends have. And they probably should have.
But now, Blizzard is insisting on a new policy whereby they will only permit the use of real names in their forums. Since you have to give your real name to create an account (at least, if you’re using a credit card, which most people are, I believe), this is rather difficult to evade, and anyway, if it’s policy, then obvious evasions will probably result in banning.
The intention of this is presumably to suppress so-called “griefers” and others trolls and active criminals, by requiring them to stop hiding behind pseudonyms. However, as Scott Lynch points out, all it’s really going to do is give such people a more target rich environment. People who are intent on causing trouble–whether it be merely social maliciousness like trolling or active criminality–will be the most likely to find canny ways to evade the new rules, while ordinary, law abiding folks who just want to play the game and talk about it with other players without getting harassed or stolen from will have no idea how and no real desire to do so. Because they’re not the ones doing anything wrong!
Scott pretty well enumerates all the reasons why this turns out to be a worse and worse idea the more you think about it, so I won’t belabor it further — go chase the link above.
Meanwhile, I think I will not, after all, be getting back into the game anytime soon as I’d planned.