It just doesn’t add up for me. I don’t see what they’re supposed to be gaining. If there’s no gain, there’s pretty much zero chance it was done on purpose, which really just leaves two possibilities, firstly that they knew about it and it was a bug and considered lower priority to fix, and second that maybe it wasn’t a bug, and they thought it was fun, and then realized at the last minute how it might be used.
I mean, you can genuinely never underestimate how dim/insular people at games companies, especially big ones, can be. Blizzard are a great example, and long had an “echo chamber” culture (now gone for 3+ years, maybe even 4+). The most extreme example of them just being complete morons is RealID, which is a system that still exists, but has been drastically modified and cut down over time. They brought it in around the time a lot of dumb pundits were first obsessing about the ridiculous idea of “let’s make everyone use their real-life name on the internet, it’ll make everything better!”.
So the idea, in the original version, was, if you wanted to /friend someone in a Blizzard game, you would now do so via your “RealID”, which by default, was your RL first and last name (or whoever’s name was on the account - but that pretty much had to match your credit card in most cases), and which also, as a bonus, showed them your email address. On top of that, instead of the /friend being between two characters, it was between all, which at the time, was a pretty big change, as people back then often used alternate characters to avoid people some of the time.
There was no way to turn this off or limit it, beyond never doing /friend with people, which would, in practice, be a pretty harsh limitation in a social game like WoW. Further, to coerce you into using it, it offered a whole bunch of benefits, like being able to invite people cross-realm and so on. Oh and on top of all this, your real name would automatically be shown on the forums, so your boss could see you were posting on the WoW forums during work time or whatever, or you could better doxx that guy you got into an argument with.
And here’s the thing - Blizzard leadership genuinely didn’t see any of this coming.
You think, being a realistic person, that they’d have to. But they genuinely didn’t, and it extremely obvious from their reaction to the obviously “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK BLIZZARD???” reaction from… pretty much everyone. They didn’t have answers for obvious questions. They didn’t consider obvious issues (back then in 2010 Blizzard was like 90% bro-y white dudes, that is no longer true, on WoW at least). And it’s not like they hadn’t talked to people about it, i.e. raiders and so on - but they only talked to Brosephs. Because that was everyone they knew.
So people hammered them with objections, particularly women and people with ethnic or otherwise unusual names (or names that didn’t match with their in-game persona, including trans people, obviously). Women knew, quite rightly, that this would lead to them being stalked, abused and harassed (and they’re about 30% of WoW players, maybe higher). People with unusual names knew they’d be ridiculed and face racism and other discrimination in-game on top of easy doxxing. Blizzard announced this all at Blizzcon and were absolutely blindsided when the audience totally turned on them. Most spectacular was the Blizzard guy who suggested that doxxing was impossible, and it was ridiculous to suggest anyone could use someone’s name to do that. Whilst he was still doing the presentation, and in time for the questions, someone with a laptop or iphone in the audience managed, of course, to doxx him based solely on his name (despite him having a very boring name), and presented this to him, and you could see from his face that it was a case of “Oh shit we’ve totally fucked this one up…”.
Eventually they made huge modifications to the system, too long and boring to name, but the end result is basically you get all the benefits but without any real names being involved unless you go far out of your way to display them (which nobody does).
But my point is, in the context of things like that happening, yeah, it is absolutely believable to me that this got lost in the mix or whatever, and it’s a lot more believable than it was a “marketing effort” or something, especially as it’s going to lead to backlash, and indeed already is.
Sorry for the long story - I type extremely fast and I don’t always realize how long I’ve gone on for.
On a lighter note, I hope everyone has seen this: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2020/12/15/cyberpunk-2077-has-too-many-dildos-will-patch-some-of-them-out/
It is definitely true. I mean, it’s not like they’re everywhere, but sometimes it gets incongruous/weird, and the screenshot to illustrate it is well-chosen, because that’s immediately before one of those, because you end up in a non-sexual situation in a hotel room not long after that, and the drawer thing between the beds is literally jammed-open with dildos, and you have this scene, and it’s kind of undermined by these fucking dildos lol.