The Battle.net Conversion

I’ve been down with the flu for much of the last seven days so haven’t been keeping tabs on the gaming blogs as much as usual, but it seems that more than a few people have been getting themselves into a huff over the security implications of Blizzard making people merge their World of Warcraft accounts with Battle.net.

The argument has been made that using an email address is less secure than using an account name.

Which I would grant as true if we all just had one email address.  One we used everywhere, every day.  One displayed, perhaps, on the front page of one’s blog.

Honestly though, I have to think a bit to come up with somebody with just one email address these days.

My mom has more than one email address. (She reads this blog! Hi mom!)

My wife has more than one email address. (Another reader! Hi sweetie!)

And me? Don’t get me started.  I have a domain and essentially an unlimited supply of forwarding email addresses that can be as complex as I can stand but which will still show up in one of my in boxes.

The only person I can think of for sure with only a single email address is my daughter. (Not yet a reader)  But she does not use it, because it was only created to use for her Battle.net account so I could merge her WoW account.

Email addresses are plentiful.  Creating one that you don’t use regularly is simple.

And if you are itching at this moment to write a comment telling me the you have but a single email address, let me save you the trouble and direct you to Yahoo! and Gmail where you can create a new email address for free.

But I did think of one possible flaw.  What would happen if you decided to use that email address at a later date?  Or maybe you accidentally used that “everybody knows it” email address for Battle.net and now regret it?

So I went to the Battle.net account site.

I merged my account months ago to get on the StarCraft II beta list and to use the Blizzard Authenticator.  If you’re going to make security and issue but don’t use the authenticator, I’d have to question your commitment to the proposition of security.

And you don’t even have to buy the authenticator. (Which appears to be in stock as of this writing and on which  I doubt Blizzard makes very much margin at all, to bring up two things I’ve seen mentioned more than once.)

They make versions of authenticator for phones, and not just iPhones.

Really!  There is a version for my crappy old Kyocera phone on the list.  I was surprised when I went and looked!  The list of supported phones is pretty big now.

But I digress.

I went to Battle.net because I was pretty sure I remembered an option.  And I found it.

BNet
Oh, look, you can change your email address.

So you can change both your logon and your password as regularly as you like if you are security conscious and still find reason to eschew the authenticator route.

That would seem to me to actually offer more security options.

And, because somebody is going to ask, yes that option actually changes your logon, not just the email address at which you receive notifications.

A look at the email address change screen

A look at the email address change screen

So some of the rants on the security implications seem a bit over blown in my opinion, if you are concerned about security.

That last bit is the key.  If you are not concerned about security, your current account name probably falls into one or more of these categories:

  • The name of one of your characters
  • Some common variation on your name and initials (jsmith, johns, jsmith74 and you were born in 1974)
  • The name of a pet or loved one
  • A name (and probably a password) you have used on other sites (your standard web logon)
  • Your current, most commonly used email address minus the domain name and the @ sign

And if that is the case, the move to Battle.net is probably just maintaining the status quo for you when it comes to security.

So did Blizzard blowing the lid off of security with this move?  I don’t think so.

On the other hand, Tobold’s prediction of general support line mayhem on November 11th is about as close to a sure things as I can imagine.

And it will be a double disaster.

Not only are people going to swamp the phone lines and bring down the forums, but Blizzard is forcing people to actually THINK about their accounts.

When companies make their customers do that, some non-zero percentage of those customers will up and cancel their subscriptions.  It always happens.

So this is going to cost Blizzard.  I hope their plans for Battle.net are worth the pain they are going to have to endure.

I’d even worry about how Battle.net is going to behave come November 11th.  What is going to happen when a few hundred thousand people suddenly create accounts and try to merge their WoW account.

So, mom, go merge your account over this weekend.  Give me a call if you have any questions.  When you do merger your account, you’ll get a pet penguin in game.  I already got mine.  Your granddaughter has one now as well.

Mr. Chilly

Mr. Chilly

Mr. Chilly is some sort of northern Kalimdor penguin I think, and should not be confused with Pengu, who is from Northrend and a hatchling of the race of King Ping.  Pengu can only be bought when one has exalted faction with the Kalu’ak.

The Majestic Pengu

The Majestic Pengu

I understand that Pengu is going to get some red-eye reduction in an upcoming patch.  I just hope he doesn’t end up looking like his distant cousin, Mr. Chilly who has the potential to become the most ubiquitous pet in the game.  Everybody who converts to Battle.net gets him, and everybody has to convert.  Only those who delay too long may not get him according to the Battle.net FAQ:

However, please note that we plan to remove the ability to get the penguin pet at some point in the future.

I’m going to guess that the “point in the future” is reasonably far out, lest they get yet more support phone calls about why people didn’t get their penguin.

15 thoughts on “The Battle.net Conversion

  1. Skarlarth

    Hear, hear!

    I also converted a while ago, but just to be safe I did make a new GMail account specifically for Battle.Net being as my default e-mail account was one that was splashed all over the interwebz.

    I also got my Mr. Chilly last night and was annoying She Who Must Be Obeyed (AKA my wife) by having both pets on my tool bar and bringing out Mr. Chilly and warning “Don’t make him angry, you won’t like him when he’s angry!” and then converting over to Pengu. Now I just have to macro it!

    Of course by the time the remove Pengu’s red eye maybe my initial humour of having my pet penguin “Hulk out” will have passd ;)

    Skarlarth and Company
    Medivh

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  2. Morane

    One problem with Hotmail accounts is that if you don’t use it regularly it can get recycled – ie become available for someone else to use. This was a root cause of the Twitter hack a few months ago. I don’t know if Yahoo and GMail have the same problem. I should look that up.

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  3. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Morane – Good point. Hotmail accounts were getting zeroed out after 30 days of inactivity at one time.

    I don’t know what the expiry is on Yahoo accounts. I have several of those, but I always stick them in Trillian so I get notification if I get an email, so I tend to check them regularly.

    It is my understanding though that Gmail accounts do not expire.

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  4. Andrew

    Yay for your wife and mom having multiple email accounts?!? I don’t have multiple accounts, and I don’t want multiple accounts. It’s a hassle, and not worth my time to manage. I think a lot of people are in the same boat.

    I’ve never like sites that force you to make your email address your login, and resent them on principle. I’m fine with it being an OPTION, but not something that is enforced.

    That said, when I played WoW I had an authenticator…. it was cheap & easy – so a win-win in my books.

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  5. Bhagpuss

    Not only do I only have one email address, I also don’t have a mobile phone. Never had one, don’t want one.

    Just because you CAN have things doesn’t mean you HAVE to have them. Less is very definitely more in my book and always has been since I first discovered Alex Toth.

    I will, however, create a new email address in order to go on playing WoW. Hmm, or as you suggest maybe I’ll just cancel. Fallen Earth looks good and Earth Eternal is free, and anyway I am twitching from four months away from my EQ/EQ2/Vanguard characters. And I wouldn’t at all mind another month or two in WAR, or LotRO. And I always meant to try Ryzom after it revived, and they have a 3 week free trial . And then there’s Alganon launching on October 31st. And Iloved FFXI and lost most of my free month moing to WoW cos Mrs Bhagpuss didn’t like the FFXI controls, I’d love to give that another spin…

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  6. Gallaria

    @Wilhelm – Hi from Mom! (I have at least 4 email addresses and a domain name too.) Merged the account last weekend and my Mr. Chilly pets showed up in the mail on Wednesday. He really looks cute with my Gnome Rogue alt, can’t wait to see him with my Death Knights.

    As you said email accounts, and good ones at that, are free and so easy to set up. It’s not that much trouble to check them once or twice a month.

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  7. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Bhagpuss – As somebody who used to work on products for the Mac, I’m all for less is more, but I do not necessarily equate that with absolute numbers. 1 email address vs. 2 does not a less is more philosophy make, at least in my opinion.

    For example, the email address I have on the about page of the blog, wilhelm2451@yahoo.com, is only used for this blog. Any email I get on it only concerns TAGN and does not get mixed in with any other matters.

    That, I would contend, is also an example of less is more in action as it reflects a simplicity of purpose for that email account.

    (And, as a tangent, at work I can be reached via no fewer than 72 externally available email addresses thanks to mergers, alternate domains, and overseas subsidiaries. Less is more fail.)

    Anyway my point was if your objection is “OMG, security breach!” then I think you’re probably looking for problems. Security can be addressed if that is your concern, but security often equals inconvenience as the joke goes.

    But if you are saying, “I’d rather not play WoW than do this” for whatever reasons, including inconvenience, then I am going to bet you are not alone. I may not agree, but everybody has their threshold on these sorts of things.

    I am betting Blizzard is going to face a bit of that sort of thing. We’ll know if it went beyond their threshold for pain should they back off on this mandated migration.

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  8. John

    I have multiple WoW accounts tied to a single email address. When I tried to convert one WoW account to a battle.net account it failed with “unknown error encountered”. Perhaps the “unknown” error is because of the current ambiguous email association?

    This is actually the closest I’ve come to cancelling WoW. Still thinking about it. Why should I have to deal with this? It benefits them, not me.

    A more competent approach might have been to autocreate battle.net accounts from WoW accounts, then allow later customization…

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  9. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

    The problem with email addresses as security isn’t just that someone might know your account name from your email address (and this IS an issue), but because it also gives hackers another avenue to attack your account.

    Let’s start with my second point first: account hacking can happen to anyone. As I posted there, I’m pretty sure that the hacker who compromised my account just got lucky from trying to break Hotmail accounts and search for old WoW customer service emails. (Blizzard makes it easier for hackers by putting your account name in the email.) If a hacker learns your account name, they also know your email address. If they can compromise your email account, then they can compromise your WoW account by using password recovery.

    The other security risk is the fact that while YOU (or your mother) can create another email address, some people can’t or don’t want to. As we all know, in MMOs the behavior of other people affects you. So, let’s say your guild’s star DPS is “a few fries short of a happy meal”. Having his email address and username be the same makes it easier for him to be hacked, so suddenly you find yourself without a key player come raid night while customer service restores his or her account.

    From a developer’s point of view, any reduction in security is harmful. If this increases the rate of hacked accounts at all, it’s going to drive up CS costs. Take note: that means the profit from merging with the Battle.net account has to be greater than this potential cost. The pessimist in me is glad I don’t play WoW anymore.

    I think it’s just a bad move from any angle. Is it the end of the world for smart people? No, but we’re not the ones that have to worry any more than we already had to.

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  10. Rainmyst

    I converted when the last pet was offered–the battlebot, and I use a separate e-mail address as mentioned.

    I have more than one account and they are both on the same Battle-net account which is nice for promotions. Both accounts get the goodies. You still have to go all the way out to the intro screen and sign in again to switch between accounts though.

    I also have had this weird problem switching between realms. If I want to play a character on the same account but on a different realm, most of the time it won’t switch over. Really annoying. I have to go all the way out and sign in again. I need to check with tech support to see if this is a common problem or an easy fix.

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  11. Delany

    Security concerns aside, Battle.Net will be a great feature. Imagine starting up the Steam (oops Battle.Net) client, seeing where your friends are at and chatting to them in whatever blizzard game theyre playing.

    Who knows, maybe you could even start a guild chat, access the calendars or even LFG without starting wow, sc2 or db3.

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