Jun 7, 2016

Posted by in Editorial, Featured | 0 Comments

Blizzard and Facebook: Clueless or Hopeful?

For those under a rock or on vacation, Blizzard announced a move to integrate with Facebook’s API to allow for a Facebook sign-in to all Blizzard properties, to incorporate streaming direct to Facebook from a Blizzard game such as Overwatch, and to broaden connectivity between Blizzard gamers via Facebook’s social platform. Specifics are currently light, but people are already making Farmville cracks, and are vowing never to use this social initiative in any way, shape, or form.

An ongoing enumeration of people in my social networks shows that most people have a very rigid demarcation between their Facebook circles and their Gaming circles. Facebook is for family or non-gaming, “acceptable” behaviors…

…while Twitter or other platforms are for everyone else (the above examples are just two obvious ones I saw today). There’s plenty of services out there that use social network API for a convenient single sign-in, and I know there are plenty of people out there who do use Facebook for their gaming social media needs, or who cross the streams and follow gamers and family, but it always seemed that there was such a blatant division voiced among the people I follow between what people are willing to use FB for and what they are not.

Why is Blizzard trying to make Facebook-as-a-gaming-hangout happen? On one hand I suppose we should be thankful that Blizzard didn’t go the Web 2.0 route and just start their own social hub (a la FFXIV) since that would be limiting and probably wouldn’t accomplish their goal of being as ubiquitous as possible in the hope of steamrolling potential customers into submission (“if you can’t beat ’em…” and all that). But on the other hand…Facebook. A lot of people specifically keep their gaming identity and the FB identity apart because they fear that they might get grief from their family and other friends, or because they know their employers or prospective employers might look them up on the platform and think less of them for their chosen hobby. My FB timeline is filled with political crap, recipes, news about people’s kids, and other random and assorted junk that I deign to wade through because I don’t connect with these posters through any other means. In an attempt to maybe use Facebook more (or to balance out the garbage), I’ve added a lot of folks that I follow on other platforms to my FB list, but nope…Even gamers use Facebook mostly to handle their non-gaming news and info.

Is Blizzard clueless? I can’t imagine that they believe that the first thing that comes to a gamer’s mind is “Facebook” when they think “gaming”, or that the company believes that their customers are going to be welcomed by their non-gaming associates once they start spamming their timelines with their World of Warcraft selfies and Overwatch PotG videos. But companies aren’t so much a hive-mind as they are a dictatorship, even companies that seem to have their act together like Blizzard does (most of the time). Someone might get a bug in his or her ear that “X is a good idea!” and they might look around and see other companies doing similar things, so they might believe that it really is a good idea, regardless of the actual reception or grumbling on the street. But Blizzard didn’t get to be where it is because of constantly making Bad Decisions, so I can only imagine that they’re working gauntlet-in-gauntlet to make Facebook a destination for gamers. Were it any company other than Blizzard (Daybreak, Trion, NCSoft, etc), I think this partnership would be summarily dismissed (I mean really dismissed, and not in the impotent eye-rolling that commentators are doing in comment sections across the Internet where this situation is currently being discussed). But it is Blizzard, who has power and cachet to the point where if Blizzard says  you can, people most certainly will, up to the point where it’ll eventually be the only option.

At any rate, I sometimes look for ways to get back at the people on Facebook who spam me with their crap, so if nothing else this is a great nuclear option I can add to my arsenal for days when I’m feeling particularly obnoxious. I don’t want to use Facebook for my Blizzard logins because I recently closed down one FB account because I didn’t use it for anything other than auto-posting from the Untappd beer tracking application, but I had to open another account because some service that I needed demanded it as the only option for registration. Let me tell you, that bothered me mightily, so if Blizzard has any inkling that subbing out it’s user management infrastructure to a third party — especially Facebook — is a good “business decision”, I think they’re going to have another RealID debacle on their hands. Of course, if we can use our content to fight back against sappy inspirational quotes and “share this if you love X, ignore if you hate Y” bullshit that seems to be the foundation of Facebook, we might be able to redecorate the place a bit.

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