Does Real ID/BattleTag Defeat Its Own Purpose?

ConjureVodka Writer Soap Box (Staff Editorials) 1 Comment

In my (almost) 10 years of playing World of Warcraft, I have seen the social aspect of the game take off. The introduction of the Real ID system in 2011 has allowed fans of Blizzard games to communicate with people on other servers and have a pool of players to ask to go into instances, raids, arenas, battlegrounds, and more. I have personally made many friends through the Looking For Group system, and even more through the various online fan groups.

In World of Warcraft, a lot of time this expansion was spent sitting in garrisons instead of exploring the vast world that Blizzard created for us. Real ID and BattleTags were introduced with the intention of making the game more social, as every Blizzard game has a multiplayer aspect to it. It could even be argued that Blizzard itself is making the game less social through arbitrary limits on BattleTag and Real ID, which is capped at 200 as of this writing.

I have argued since the absolute beginning of Real ID and BattleTag that a game with a size and scope as large as World of Warcraft have a higher friend count limit than 100. While it was raised to 200 last year, it still doesn't seem like enough as Blizzard is now supporting six franchises (World of Warcraft, Diablo III, StarCraft II, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and now Overwatch). This makes it difficult for Blizzard fans to interact with their friends who only play one Blizzard game exclusively, and thus creates a paradox in which social circles are limited, which is contrary to the intentions of Blizzard—to build a large online community where people play their games.

On the flip side, Blizzard may be trying to keep the cap at what is known in anthropological circles as Dunbar's number. In the 1990s, British anthropologist Robin Dunbar theorized that humans can only maintain 150 stable relationships, and that any number larger than that requires more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group. Many people reading this article may be running guilds that have hundreds (and some, even thousands) of members. These guilds are probably run with no addition of governing rules, so it seems a bit counterproductive for Blizzard to impose a limit of only 200 friends. The limitations could also be technological, but the counterargument is that other online communities such as Xbox Live and PlayStation Network have caps of 1,000. With huge numbers of people flocking to play Blizzard games, I believe it is time for a change.

As someone who is active in the Blizzard community and seeks to reach out to other players to have fun (and of course, play competitively), my simple request to raise the friend cap to at least 500 (maybe even match Xbox Live and PlayStation Network at 1,000) is well within reason and could be done as Blizzard has the resources and technological capability to do so, thus allowing more people to become connected through online gaming.


Content Writer - World of Warcraft
Conjurevodka heads the guild Also Available in Sober on Kil'jaeden-US Horde and has mained a fire/frost mage since April 2008. He is obsessed with achievements primarily, but takes time to raid and PvP. He believes that "teamwork makes the dream work"

Comments 1

  1. I always see people complain how all we did is sit in our garrison’s talking in chat this expansion, instead of being out in the world, etc etc…but, how did sitting in our garrison talking in tradechat while waiting for a queue to pop really differ from sitting in whatever capital city was relevant at the time and talking in tradechat, while waiting for a queue to pop?

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