Risky business: PS4 offers the option of displaying real identities online

I’m old-school and maybe a little old-fashioned, but Sony’s latest announcement about displaying real names online is a rotten idea to me. Here’s the skivvy: PS4’s ID system will allow games to pull their real names from Facebook. From there, gamers can decide whether they want to display their real name to friends, opponents, strangers, and male sex offenders posing as gamergurl91.

Now, I know you’re thinking: “Whoa, if it’s optional, what are you so upset about?”

I understand it’s completely optional, but the option itself is one that will only cause more harm than good. I hate to sound preachy in a gaming blog, but people who display their real names will be opening themselves up to any number of security issues–and for what? So we can know that “Dave Smith” was the one who sniped our asses in a FPS deathmatch? And since PS4 identities are drawn from Facebook accounts, cyber-thieves will have an easy trail to follow.


No one is happier with the news than this guy.

I shouldn’t have to point out that you can display your real name easily on PS3 or any other system that permits screen names. “Dave Smith” could roam the PS3 waiting rooms as “Dave_Smith1” if he pleases. What this new PS4 option means is that gamers will be more encouraged to display their identities online. If the option itself isn’t enticing enough, imagine how gamers will cave once online trash talk heats up: “If you’re such a badass, why do you go by your screen name?” 

I’m sure Sony’s intentions are clean. In a perfect world, real name displays could prompt maturity and accountability in online matches: we’d surely see a decline in gradeschool sex jokes and uncalled-for insults. Yet at the same time, the twelve-year-old screaming throughout a Call of Duty match is nothing compared to the silent lurker who for some reason wants to get on your good side…



7 thoughts on “Risky business: PS4 offers the option of displaying real identities online

  1. I agree that it might not be a good idea. While its optional-ness might calm people down, many immature gamers might not know what they are getting themselves into. Especially if the accounts are linked to fb, trouble will definitely ensue.

  2. For the record, Sony already stated you can use your real name while ALSO using an alias online. Essentially you can set it so that your real friends and people who know you can find you easily (much like facebook – I don’t have one but I think that’s how it works) while STILL being anonymous in actual games and when linking other people to your account.

    So, it’s not a security risk or anything else unless you both: choose to use your real name AND choose to use it ALWAYS. Not much of an issue unless you purposefully go out of your way to make it one – and if someone chooses to do that, they are doing it knowing that it’s opening up their name to the world.

    And I really don’t see “why aren’t you using your real name” as being much of an insult – if someone tosses that your way it’s completely ignorable as long as you’re mature enough not to get genuinely flustered by a 14 year old yelling things at you on a video game console. And really, if a person is being an ass while using their real name – they are the ones “at risk”. Which means people who use real names are less likely to be acting that way in the first place.

    *”You” being “the hypothetical player”, not literally you.

    • Thanks for the input on limiting the display of real names to friends only. Was completely unaware of that much.

      That being said, I’m sticking by my initial feelings on this one. There’s still the chance that a gamer makes friends online, welcomes them into his/her “real name circle,” and suffers from allowing access to his/her identity.

  3. I don’t see a problem with this as it’s optional. If you can set it so only your real friends see your name what’s the harm. There’s even an argument to be made that if everyone used their real name they would be less likely to spout sexist and racist stuff in multiplayer.

    • It’s a double-edged sword. I agree that people would behave with real names displayed, but at the same time gamers run the risk of encountering everything I mentioned in my post.

  4. Very interested take! I think that this may be a case of “do what will make the most people happy” sort of situation. At the end of the day, Sony is a business, and they need to make money. Designing an environment that is enjoyable by most begets stronger recurring sales, and subsequently nets more profit. In doing so it’s not unexpected that they would ignore potential consequences of publicizing information, though optional, to the public and in online gaming. I haven’t looked into how much they’re going to display personal info online, or how much control users have over displayed information, but at the end of the day Sony is going to be able to say: “You didn’t have to.” and “This is why we have the option, to establish a mature community.” and “You agreed to the terms of service, absolving us of misconduct.”

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