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Games – Why Account Wide Friend Lists Suck

Something I have seen happen more and more recently with games is the introduction of account wide friend lists. We are also going to group the guilds in to the same area, as they are all impacted by these systems. While some players are all for the account wide names, I think that they cause more problems than they are worth. Through this article I am going to explore why these systems are not good, and why future games should do their best to avoid them. Keep in mind that this is all based on my opinion and you may or may not agree with how I feel. That is perfectly fine!

How They Work

For anyone who has not experienced a system like this before, it is important to start off by gaining an understanding as to how they work. Essentially when you create your game account, you do so by giving it a name. All games have this, but with these systems that name is also what refers to your entire account externally as well (meaning that other players can see and use the name to get a hold of you too).

In the case of Guild Wars 2, for example, you have two names on any character: the account name (such as accountname.1387) and the character name (such as mynamehere). If I wanted to get a hold of this person, I could either contact them by adding the name mynamehere or accountname.1387; both of these would go straight to that person. This makes accessing players extremely easy, and it also opens up another door. When you are in groups and you switch characters, you are not kicked from those groups and instead are in them on all of your characters. Along with this, if you join sPvP and swap characters you will still be in the same group and match. These are things that simply would not work without the game having account wide names.

The Problem – Lack of Privacy

The big issue here is that there is absolutely no privacy. If I create a character and make a friend on it and then go to play another character so I can get some alone time, that simply does not work. Any time I am on a new character all the person has to do is look at their friend list and it will show them the name of my new one. This will matter to some players more than others, but for me it is a pretty big deal. I do not always want people sending me messages or asking for things. There are times that I just want to sit back, relax and enjoy the game without having to constantly deal with other people. Games that do the account wide names simply do not allow this to happen.

One Guild to Join

Another problem we get led in to is the aspect of only having one guild that can be joined per account. Sometimes I will have multiple characters and will join different guilds. Maybe this is because they play at different times or maybe just because I want to immerse myself in to different groups of players. I do not like being forced to choose a single guild and stick with that; it limits the game in a lot of ways, and it also degrades guilds because they no longer have any true competition (being that you will never know what you are missing out on unless you leave the guild you are in to check out another one). I think taking this competition out does a lot of damage and it should be avoided.

A game that has handled this situation the right way is Guild Wars 2. Within this game, you can join as many guilds as you want and you just choose which one you want to represent at the time. You can also skip around between them as often as you want, with no negative effects. This takes out the biggest issue with having the account wide name, as you are not limited to one guild per account or even one guild per character. On the other hand, it introduces its own problems as well.

Conclusion

Having people in a game use an account name instead of a character name is a bad idea, and it leads to a lot of problems. While some of the issues can be overcome by altering the way some things happen within the games, there are others that simply will not work (such as the privacy problem). While I am definitely glad that games like Guild Wars 2 handled the situation pretty well considering everything, I still think that it would be a lot better without the account wide names.

Games


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