Archive for battletags

BattleTags: Digging Deeper

Well, it’s been about ten days since I last wrote in this space, mostly due to work stuff, family stuff, oh, and yes, illness. (On Thursday, I started sneezing so much someone could haven mistaken me for a pregnant Bajoran.)

At that time, I had pondered whether the “Show my Real ID on Friends of Friends lists” option would extend to BattleTags, since we still have no controls specifically for BattleTags.

The answer, it would appear, is no.

list

Yup. That’s Majik’s “People You May Know” list and, 15 screens down, at the very bottom, where there are no mutual friends connecting him and those individuals that “he may know”, I’m right there. (In order to get this screenshot from him, I had to actually tell him my BattleTag or he wouldn’t have confirmed it for me. :P)

As to why this is a big deal, I can understand why some people don’t think it is… But to me, it’s just another way of showing me that Blizzard doesn’t care about our privacy. The lack of control, the lack of refinement of the tools, these are things that, were they fixed, would have me thrilled to use BattleTags. That’s ultimately where I’m coming from: I want to be able to use BattleTags within World of Warcraft without giving up my privacy.

Since I can’t do that, I don’t want to use BattleTags. More, I don’t want anyone to be able to associate me with a BattleTag.

Think about it. With someone’s BattleTag, you can search for them on the official Hearthstone, Diablo 3, Starcraft 2 AND Heroes of the Storm forums, all without being their “friend” on BattleNet. Just how long do you think WoW’s character-based postings are going to last when all of their other properties are using BattleTags?

Then, with someone’s BattleTag, you can spam them with requests, even if they still turn you down. Someone who knows someone else’s BattleTag can also post this sort of thing to various forums, which will cause an uptick in spam requests.

Then we have this story from Jemmy

My husband decided to disable his RealId to see what would happen. He doesn’t play WoW any more and I’m the only active RealId person on his list, everyone else is btag. So I disappeared off his list, and he cannot add me back on using my email. So far so good. So then he sends me a btag friend request, which I accept. My RealId name appears on his friends list. Not my btag, my RealId name. He shows up only as his btag, but I show up as a RealId name.

What’s up with that?

It’s true that these are not exactly the most harmful or most efficient ways to harass someone, but they’re there. More, this is just what people can do with your BattleTag ID right now. What happens when WoW’s forums adopt the BattleTag?

What happens if BattleTags become visible in WoW, even to the extent that they are currently visible in Hearthstone? Right now, after you play someone in Hearthstone, you get their BattleTag and you get the option to request to add them to your friends list. What if some genius idiot at Blizzard decides this is a good plan for LFR or the LFG groups in WoW? “Did you enjoy playing with FAKENAME#0000? Add them to your BattleTag list and play with them more often!”

Again, with proper, granular controls that existed on an IM program in the late 90s, BattleTags would be brilliant. But without any kind of control whatsoever, I have to opt out of their use. I was a less-effective guild recruiter without using BattleTags, because I didn’t want prospective recruits to know every detail of my Blizzard gaming habits. I’m sure I come off as an aloof snob when people want to exchange BattleTags with me. There are actually a lot of people with whom I would like to connect over BattleTags, but none to the point where I’d like them to have an unfettered view of my gaming. I don’t want anyone to know about my Undead baby rogue on that PVP server. I don’t want anyone to know what I’m doing in Hearthstone. It’s my decision whether or not I share these activities with others — or, at least, it should be. Once you give someone access to you via BattleTags, you don’t have that decision any longer. That privacy is gone. All because Blizzard doesn’t seem to care enough to even install the most basic of privacy controls.

It’s a worrying privacy creep and it just continues to show me that, perhaps, my love affair with World of Warcraft and Blizzard in general, is truly over.

(You’re welcome to comment, welcome to disagree, but bear in mind my Comment Policy.)

ETA: Related podcast: Episode 19 of the Kurncast: Privacy Creep

Blizzard, Why Do I Still Have to Talk About This?

Dear Blizzard,

I have been playing your games, in some fashion, since the original PC version of Diablo. I played Diablo II, as well as at least one expansion. I eventually found my way to World of Warcraft in October of 2005 and the rest is basically history. I played until November of 2012 and then took a break for approximately 17 months.

I came back to the game shortly after the Warlords of Draenor pre-purchase came out. I pre-purchased Warlords, then four hours later, I resubbed to the game.

As I write this, I have about 68 hours on my current game card and, to be honest, I’m not really inclined to fork over another $15.

It’s not because of the sexism and even homophobia and misogyny that I have seen in the game — although those exist.

It’s not because you nerfed my class to the ground — although my main raiding character was a paladin for the majority of my playing time.

It’s not even because it’s going to take over a year between content patches — although that’s a truly abysmal production schedule and if I had been raiding this whole time, I would have surely quit in disgust by now.

It’s because @YAWoWB on Twitter said this:


I wasn’t exactly sure what Rooster was talking about, until I opened up my own desktop app. Now, let’s be clear: I have precisely 0 BattleNet friends and my RealID is turned off. But I still clicked on “Add a Friend” and was rewarded with this piece of nonsense:

addafriendblog

 

Now, to be fair, because I have RealID turned off, those are all BattleTags. But that’s my brother’s BattleTag, my friend Majik’s BattleTag… and the guy above Majik? That’s one of his friends. Something like two years ago, I played Diablo III with Majik and his friend, for a period of approximately THIRTY MINUTES.

Then, Blizzard, I gasped out-loud at the possibility that my BattleTag is floating around out there like that. See, you have a flag in the BattleNet account options to not show up like that… except that it’s for RealID, not BattleTags (click for a bigger version):

friendsoffriends

Now, one might think that, possibly, since there are no preferences for one’s BattleTags, that perhaps they follow the rules laid out for RealID, but, honestly, I have no idea if this is the case.

As my brother is the father of a newborn and I don’t actually know Majik’s friend, my thought was immediately to get him on his computer and then have HIM click “Add A Friend” and see if I showed up. Unfortunately, he was asleep when I texted him (multiple times), since he has to be up at 5am and I think I might have woken up his wife with my constant texting…

So I’ll have to post again with the results of this test.

But, honestly, Blizzard. It’s 2014. Why do I have to be angry with you about your complete and utter lack of social controls?

It’s been nearly two years since you posted that “Appear Offline” was “coming soon”. TWO YEARS, Blizzard. That’s longer than Mists of Pandaria has been out! And your inelegant (to say the least) “privacy” controls are still absolutely laughable. I say this as someone who has been in the online community industry for over a decade. In this day and age of Facebook privacy screwups, of cloud hacking, of nations spying on their own citizens, you’re really going to continue to deny your users the ability to properly manage their online/offline statuses? You’re going to make it easy to find people who don’t want to be found?

Look, I get that community makes your product stickier. Believe me, I do. People come for the games and stay for the people. I know! And you want to compete with Steam, I’m guessing, right? Guess what? STEAM HAS AN OFFLINE MODE. And a variety of ways for users to manage their privacy. And Steam hit the 75 million active user mark last January.

Why, why, why do you continue to eat away at the privacy of your gamers? Why don’t you understand that, when I play your games, I don’t really want to announce to a dozen people that I’m on a rarely-used alt on a server I never visit? Why don’t you understand that I don’t want people to know all of my alts? That I don’t want prospective recruits to know all of my alts? That I don’t want people to necessarily know that I’m in one of your games?

These are fundamental questions for me. I am increasingly disturbed by each and every privacy issue that comes up when it comes to BattleNet and Blizzard’s games.

You know, Blizzard, there was a time when I loved BattleNet. Those times were back in the late 90s when I was playing Diablo. Ever since RealID came out, I have learned to loathe BattleNet. I resent it. I resent people expecting me to share my RealID/BattleTag with them. I hate that people I barely know are all “hey, whats ur btag???” because “lol its just ur btag”. I hate that I can’t even post on the Hearthstone forums without my BattleTag being exposed for all to see. I cannot believe that I cannot remove a BattleTag from my account and I am just as incredulous about the fact that there are no distinct BattleTag privacy options available to me.

Blizzard… it’s time. It’s time to fix this mess.

Yours sincerely,

Kurn

The BattleTag Saga

Last week, I wrote about how a new feature in the latest Hearthstone game client means that one’s BattleTag will be shown to your opponents post-game. I questioned the wisdom of this feature (to put it lightly) and then embarked upon a journey to see exactly how difficult it might be to remove my BattleTag from my account.

I opened a ticket.

Since the patch to Hearthstone this week (version 1.0.0.4217), my BattleTag is now purposely made visible to any random opponent against whom I play. I do not wish for this information to be visible. In fact, I don’t actually want to have a BattleTag at all. Hearthstone is the only Blizzard game I currently play and even if I returned to World of Warcraft, I would not wish to use a BattleTag for that game.

I know BattleTags are required for Diablo III, but I assure you, I will never again play Diablo III and I do not play Starcraft II. As such, I would like for my BattleTag to be removed from my account so that it doesn’t show up against my random opponents in Hearthstone.

(The BattleTag FAQ does not state that BattleTags are required for Hearthstone, only for Diablo III, so I would assume that I could continue to play Hearthstone without a BattleTag.)

Thanks for your help!

My first response:

Hello there, this is Marcus,

I understand your concern, however if you want to play against another player there has to be some way to identify you, the Battlenet tag was created for this purpose, an anonymous way to be represented in game. No personal information is shown to the other player.

However I see that your BattleTag has your first name in it, so if your concern is your actual first name being show I recommend using the BattleTag change option On Battlenet. If you have already used the change we can offer one more change for you :–)

Should you ever find yourself again besieged by the forces of evil feel free to reply to this ticket. If you would rather speak with a representative directly, please use our phone support or Web Chat, Our contact information can be found at https://us.battle.net/support/en/ticket/status

Have a great day!

Marcus, d=(^_^)=b
Customer Services
Blizzard Entertainment

https://us.battle.net/support/en/ticket/status

First, that’s not true. My BattleTag’s portion before the random numbers was not my first name. Since I opened the ticket at the website, my real name was visible through this whole thing, so I don’t know what Marcus was smoking.

Second, this guy doesn’t actually understand my concern. At all. But it was pretty nice of him to offer me a free change if I needed it.

Here’s my response:

Hi Marcus,

Thank you for your reply. I still have a couple more questions, though. :)

1) Does this mean that a BattleTag is required in order to play Hearthstone? This information is not in the BattleTag FAQ. (It lists only Diablo III as needing one.) That’s to say, if I had an account without a BattleTag and got a Hearthstone beta invite on that account, would I then be forced to create a BattleTag before being able to play?

2) What if I would like to quit playing Hearthstone altogether due to this displaying of my BattleTag? If I no longer wanted to play either Hearthstone or Diablo III, I should not need a BattleTag. Is that correct?

3) If I no longer played Hearthstone or Diablo III, would it THEN be possible to remove my BattleTag? As it stands, I will never play Diablo III again and I am seriously considering never playing Hearthstone again due to this forced display of my BattleTag.

4) Last year, in September of 2012, Blizzard said an Invisible Mode would be implemented “in the coming months” for BattleTag/RealID stuff. Any update on this Invisible Mode?

Finally, I appreciate your offer for another change to my current BattleTag, although I believe I still have one available to me. That’s really kind of you, but it’s not my primary concern in terms of privacy. Still, it’s nice to be reminded that I have the option to change it.

One further bit of clarification:

“if you want to play against another player there has to be some way to identify you”

I don’t want to play against another player that I know. I want to play ranked and arena matches with random people. I have no desire to play against anyone I know.

Thanks very much, hoping to hear back soon.

So here was their next reply…

I took a look at the ticket for you and I wanted to let you know that the Battle Tag is required for playing Hearthstone and we don’t have a way to remove it from the account once it is added. That being said, while people can see your Battle Tag in Hearthstone the only way they would be able to see if you are online is if you accepted a friend invite from them.

I would be happy to help you out further if you have any further issues with this about this or any other issue, simply reply to this ticket. Or, if you prefer, you can contact us via Webchat. https://us.battle.net/support/en/article/contact They are available between the hours of 10 am to 6 pm, Pacific Standard Time, 7 days a week. Or please call our Account and Technical Services personnel at 1-800-592-5499, or 1-800-041-378 if you are in Australia. Best of luck!

Finally, I have some answers to my questions.

a) BattleTags are required for Hearthstone play, despite the FAQ stating only Diablo III requires a BattleTag.
b) This means that if I don’t want to play D3 or Hearthstone, I shouldn’t need a BattleTag.
c) However, they do not have a way to remove a BattleTag from an account once it’s been added. (I call bullshit, but whatever.)

So here’s what I sent back:

Hi Rotohiel, thank you for your response. You have adequately answered three of my questions. So, as I understand it, a Battle Tag is required for playing Hearthstone and once a Battle Tag is attached to my account, I cannot remove it, only change it.

If this is correct, then as of this latest build of Hearthstone, I will not be playing the game any longer. This is due to the fact that my Battle Tag is being displayed to the random players against whom I’m matched up. I feel this is an awful change. Were it reverted or if I were able to opt-out of this, that would be fine, but there’s no way to do so.

Let’s be clear: I do not wish to share my Battle Tag information with anyone. I do not even wish to HAVE a Battle Tag. I have no intention of chatting with anyone in any Blizzard game through this system. I understand that I would have to accept invitations in order to have people see my online status and the like, but I have no intention of using the system and do not want to have spammers spam me with Battle Tag invitations the way other users are suffering in other games.

My remaining question, which went unanswered, is how is the Invisible Mode coming along when it comes to RealID/BattleTag chat? Blizzard announced it would be implemented “in the coming months” more than 15 months ago. While this would not solve all the problems inherent with your current chat system, it would make things somewhat more palatable.

In short: I want to play Hearthstone, but I don’t want my Battle Tag being displayed. If it’s displayed, I won’t play. I would consider playing despite it being displayed if there were a properly implemented invisible mode in the Battle Tag chat system. Please advise on how these efforts are coming along.

Thank you very much for your time.

And their response:

I appreciate you taking the time to contact us! I’m Game Master Toyoshu, and I want to thank you for your exceptional patience which has allowed me to work with you on your issue! I hope that this finds you well and in good spirits. :)

Sorry to hear about your frustrations with the battle tag system and hearthstone. As for your last question, I am afraid that customer service has not be told about a timeframe in which the invisibility feature will be implemented. One thing I may suggest, is putting your feedback on our forums to help keep this topic on the radar of our developers so they can keep working on it.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and Happy Holidays.

Thank you for the contact and if there is anything else we can do to make sure you have an excellent time in Azeroth, Sanctuary and beyond, let us know. :).

Of course, the other issue here is that posting on the Hearthstone forums also reveals your BattleTag. I felt obliged to bring that up.

Hi Toyoshu, thanks for your response.

I appreciate you letting me know that there have been no announced updates regarding the invisibility feature.

The last issue I want to mention is that posting on the Hearthstone forums ALSO reveals one’s BattleTag! Further, anyone who thinks this matter is important will also be reluctant to post on the forums. It’d be appreciated if you could inform the devs that there is a subsection of the playerbase that are really very much opposed to the recent change.

For more on why I (and others) have an issue with BattleTags being revealed, you can take a look at my blog entry about this: http://kurn.apotheosis-now.com/?p=2641

Thank you and have a great day.

And their final response:

Well met adventurer.

Thank you for sharing your concerns. However, as previously mentioned several times, Battletags do not reveal any personal information. That’s why they were chosen to represent players wherever a tag is required. We do not currently permit anonymous play or posting, and may not ever permit it. If you do not wish to share your feedback with Development, you are not required to post on the forums. Customer Support does not currently accept complaints or suggestions as we do not have any method of implementing changes – we are not Developers. I notice you have a WoW account. You may instead submit feedback via the lightbulb icon in the “submit a ticket” section, which will be sent straight to Development. I am sorry we cannot assist you further, but I hope this has clarified that Customer Support is not the correct department to assist you with changing how battletags are displayed.

So, after that many back and forth tickets, they still don’t actually grasp the concern I (and others) have about BattleTags being displayed. They say “we do not current permit anonymous play”, but they did, just a week ago! Sure, you saw the first bit of the BattleTag (minus the specific number), which, to be fair, was okay with me, but it’s the same difference as knowing someone’s name is José vs. José Theodore. One could be anyone, the other was an NHL goalie. Adding the last part of the BattleTag removes any kind of privacy regarding the BattleTag and opens you up to spammers, harassment and the like. Combined with a lack of news about the previously-promised Invisible Mode, I’m done playing Hearthstone. It was nice while it lasted. I really did enjoy the game and I’ll miss playing it, but it’s not worth it, to me, to open myself up to various methods of harassment using my BattleTag. I have never given out my BattleTag and, until there’s an overhaul of the entire system, I have no intention of giving it out.

Honestly, in these days where there’s all kinds of crap going on about privacy, you’d think a publicly traded company would be smarter about this sort of thing and wouldn’t give out identifying information without your permission. Alas, that is not the case.

 

Hearthstone & BattleTags

Well, it’s been nearly a month since I last posted and, thus, last ranted in this space. ;) (Actually, my last post wasn’t too bad and actually included praise, so hey, go me!)

A new Hearthstone closed beta patch launched this week (1.0.0.4217) and lots of things changed. I’m in favour of many of the changes, ambivalent about others, but I’m quite annoyed at a specific change.

“New Feature: Recently played Opponent – Your friends list now displays the last person you played against, provided they were not a Real ID or BattleTag friend. If you had a particularly great match against someone, you can now friend them for future play!” (Source)

How do they do this? By actually displaying the BattleTag of the person against whom you last played. Here’s a (slightly obscured) screenshot of my “friends list” that shows the BattleTag of the person whose ass I kicked to get to rank level 23.

hslastplayed

It does NOT seem to persist after a logout, so if I played you and then logged out and then logged back in, your name would be gone. (Such was the case with DJNOclue.)

Kurn, you may ask, Kurn, why is this a problem?

Quite simply, I feel strongly that my BattleTag should not be displayed to anyone but me without my permission.

Uh… why the hell not? It’s not as though it’s your RealID or anything.

Excellent point. (Although I should note for full disclosure that I have actually turned RealID off on my Battle.net account.)

Putting aside all the issues I have with the incredibly inelegant RealID/BattleTag chat stuff (and boy, do I have issues!), let’s look at how things came to be in order to perhaps better understand my issues.

Once upon a time, Blizzard created World of Warcraft. Then, they added RealID. Then, they added BattleTags. None of these things were actually necessary to play this game or, another contemporary of WoW, Starcraft II. However, when Diablo III was released, suddenly, BattleTags were not only created, but were required to be created in order to play Diablo III. Since I played D3 for a short period of time, I was forced to create a BattleTag. Even once I abandoned the game, my BattleTag persisted. Even though there is no requirement for BattleTags to be used in World of Warcraft, I still have one and I cannot get rid of it. (Actually, I just opened a ticket through the website to try to get it removed. I am not optimistic, but we’ll see!) I believe that they are planning to make BattleTags required for everything, but as it stands, you can still play World of Warcraft without a BattleTag. (I just created a new Battle.net account and was never prompted to create a BattleTag when creating the account, although there was an option to do so once I was in my account management.) Further, there is absolutely no way to go “offline” or “invisible”, despite the fact that, more than a year ago, Blizzard said Invisible Mode would be implemented “in the coming months”.

Why do I need a BattleTag? Well, I don’t believe I do. So let’s take a look at the Battle.net BattleTag FAQ:

A BattleTag nickname is a player-chosen handle that identifies your Battle.net account in Blizzard Entertainment games, websites, community forums, and more. Similar to Real ID, BattleTags give players on Battle.net a way to find and chat with friends they’ve met in-game, form groups, and stay connected across multiple Blizzard Entertainment games.

BattleTags are required for Diablo III play, where they are used to publically identify players in groups or when chatting in-game, as well as on the Diablo III forums.

As a player who has been in the Hearthstone beta for a few months, I have never once wanted to find and chat with anyone I’ve met in-game. When playing WoW, I hadn’t really found a compelling reason to even keep RealID enabled on my account and never found a compelling reason to give out my BattleTag, even while recruiting for my guild. (It would have made things easier, but I wasn’t prepared to let potential applicants know where I was in-game, on which server and which character at any given time.)

Further, I do not want to “stay connected across multiple Blizzard Entertainment games”. As of right now, I’m only playing one of them, anyhow, and even then, I don’t even want to play Hearthstone any longer because my BattleTag is being displayed to every random player I play against!

My objections largely stem from the fact that:

a) I was forced to create a BattleTag in order to play Diablo III, which I played to level 50 and haven’t touched since (more than a year ago)
b) It is always on.
c) It is now being displayed to random players without my permission. (Unless, by “permission”, you mean playing the game with another random human being, which is basically all the interesting gameplay in Hearthstone. It would be like your BattleTag being displayed to everyone you hit a random dungeon or raid with, in WoW.)
d) Further, your BattleTag, in case you were unaware, is publicly shown to people in the Hearthstone forums when you post there. (Just discovered that one tonight.)

But you can always decline the invitations!

Due to my various objections, due to the clunkiness and inelegance of the entire system (see previously linked posts about RealID and such), I have no intentions of accepting any BattleTag invitations. Since I will not accept them, I do not want people to bother me with invitations. So I don’t give out the information. Period.

Is it such a big deal to decline invitations?

Why don’t you ask people who are on the receiving end of dozens of invitations from gold selling spammers?

While you’re probably still being overly weird about this RealID/BattleTag business, I accept that you’re not going to change your mind on this. So what do you want out of this situation?

It’s simple: allow me to remove my BattleTag entirely or, if BattleTags are required for Hearthstone (despite the FAQ not saying so), allow me to opt-out of other people being able to see my BattleTag if I play against them in Hearthstone, or allow me to turn off BattleTags the way you can turn off RealID. (For all I know, removing my BattleTag would happen if you could turn them off, but in case it’s a different process or whatever, I include the turning off option.)

It’s been more than 15 months since Blizzard promised various changes to the chat system, including invisible mode, and the fact that they haven’t yet implemented anything gives us the impression that they’ve dropped the ball on this. As such, let us turn the thing off. I don’t even see why it’s precisely required for Diablo III play, to be honest, but it’s not required for World of Warcraft, I’m pretty sure it’s not required for SCII and I’m hoping it’s not required for Hearthstone, even after this latest patch. I like Hearthstone and would hate to feel like I can no longer play it because my BattleTag is on display for all my opponents to see.