The lights are on
Update: Microsoft has provided Game Informer with a statement on real name user IDs. “Our teams are working hard to deliver a quality experience for Xbox One," a representative tells us. "This means prioritizing some features and sometimes postponing others for a later update. While real identities continue to be part of our plans for the experience on Xbox One, at launch, customers will continue to search for friends using their Gamertags. We look forward to sharing more in the future.” Additionally, as a point of clarification, the statement from Phil Harrison referenced in the original story was made during the Xbox One reveal.
If you are one of the people that can instantly associate a Gamertag or PSN ID with the person to whom it belongs, this news probably won't matter to you. For the rest of us, the absence of the real name feature might be a little more significant, especially as the Xbox Live friend list cap raises tenfold.
We noticed that the friends list video released earlier this week that Major Nelson's friends list included Gamertags but not names of his friends and co-workers. Now we know why.
The news comes by way of Kotaku, which references a comment from corporate vice president Phil Harrison in May. Microsoft will be allowing users to flag friends as "favorites" for faster access.
Sony will be giving users the option to share their real names with friends. We've reached out to the company to confirm if the feature is still on track to launch with the PlayStation 4 on November 15.
Our TakeThe use of real names in game-related social networks is dicey. The process needs to be implemented correctly lest it open up users to abuse and harassment. With the inclusion of the new followers feature, that risk increases. I'd rather Microsoft (and Sony for that matter) take its time and implement as safely as possible rather than rush the feature out the door.
Email the author Mike Futter, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.