Starcraft 2 is out, selling well, and a bunch of new people are signed up for Real ID. Seeing how this is playing out I think Blizzard made a huge mistake rolling out Real ID in Warcraft first.
Real ID makes perfect sense for a new game like Starcraft. It's the way to keep track of your friends, to play matches with them, to keep track of folks and chat between matches. It feels perfectly natural to use it, and the Facebook integration for finding friends is a welcome tool. There's also no identity question. You don't really have an avatar or character in Starcraft, you're just yourself, so using your email address to identify yourself in game makes perfect sense.
By contrast, the Real ID launch in Warcraft felt creepy. We already had a social network in the game, our guilds, why do we need this new thing? And the extension of our identity from Warcraft toon to real-world email made a lot of people nervous. Real ID in WoW just feels wrong, despite it being useful.
So here's my question. Why did Blizzard launch Real ID first in Warcraft? Why not launch it first in Starcraft, where it makes sense, and then later launch the Warcraft version when people were clamoring for it? My only thought is they were trying to leverage the Warcraft user base to help grow Starcraft 2. But that's insane: Starcraft 2 has been anticipated for 5+ years by gamers, Blizzard didn't need to do anything to make sure the launch was strong.
The sad thing is Real ID chat is pretty much useless in Starcraft. When playing WoW you have plenty of time to chat, it's a relatively slow social game. Starcraft is an intense clickfest. The last thing I want to do when managing my Protoss build order is chat with an old buddy.
The other frustrating thing about Real ID in Starcraft is I want a social group other than "my friends". Steam has a nice version of this, groups you can join, and it's relatively easy to play a pickup game of something like Left4Dead with sympathetic people without committing yourself to "friendship" and constant presence awareness. I don't think Real ID has something like that, a social grouping for GoonSwarm or Metafilter or OlderGamers or GayGamers or the like. That's an oversight.