If you're a gamer who values anonymity, it might be time to abandon Game Center. Moments ago Apple pushed out an update to the Game Center terms of service that includes the following notice:

IMPORTANT NOTE: We have changed the Game Center terms and conditions to provide you notice that if you send a friend invitation, the full name associated with your Apple ID will be shared with the recipient. If you accept a friend invitation, the full name associated with your Apple ID will be shared with the sender.

We've tested things a bit and haven't yet found a full real name takeover in Game Center. Currently, real names don't seem to be appearing anywhere except on friend confirmation push alerts. Apple could potentially be updating the rest of the Game Center system currently, as it seems likely the other alerts will get similar treatment once all of these changes roll out.

We're going to be keeping a close eye on this over the next few days. It isn't clear if friends made previous to this change will have access to your real name, or if this is only going to be the case for future friends. Either way, it seems like a strange move on Apple's part considering that many gamers take anonymity seriously.

  • Ghost of Sparta Jr.

    Why? How is it important for someone to know my real name? Stupid, dumb ass move, Apple. I'm not accepting any friend invites or sending anything. Hell, now I don't even want Game Center. Seriously.

    • Ghost of Sparta Jr.

      Just checked my calendar and it's not April 1.

    • swarmster

      Why? So that you know whether that random friend request is actually someone you know or just spam/typo/mistake/someone who grabbed your e-mail address from somewhere.

      Even if you're not looking at it defensively, it's kind of nice to know right away who I can associate an unknown screenname with, without having to go ask all my friends who it belongs to.

      Why wouldn't you want to know your friends' names? The tone of the article and some of these replies is very strange.

      • Tharsman

        I can think of many reasons. Perhaps you are an woman or girl that is sick of having men stalk you in the cyber-world of gaming. Perhaps you worry about people that take competitive nature of games way too far. If you look online you may find articles like the one about a Shanghai online game player who stabbed to death a competitor who sold his cyber-sword.

        Thats just the start, if real names show up in leather boards and other places, things can get very nasty. Employers using online gaming activity as an excuse to fire employes claiming things like not reporting to work but showing online game activity, or perhaps showing game activity in work hours (never mind if it was your break.)

        There are many reasons to desire retaining anonymity. If I am worried about the invite I just got, I just decline it and wait for my real world friend to email me or phone me before accepting him.

        I really dislike this for the above listed reasons and more I don't have time to list.

      • swarmster

        I'm sorry, but if "you are an woman or girl that is sick of having men stalk you in the cyber-world of gaming" (or, I assume, vice versa?), why would you send your stalker a Game Center invite? And now you'd know in advance if they sent you one. I know the article was inflammatory, but you seem to be completely misunderstanding this feature.

      • Adams Immersive

        A better solution, I think, would be to make sending your real name optional. And then whenever you receive a request, you are free to ignore the ones that don’t have real names. You could even have a GameCenter setting to block requests without real names, in which case the anonymous requester would get a message back offering to re-try with real name attached.

        (I generally don’t need a real name to identify a “real” friend, because they simply tell me their gamer tag in advance.)

    • Anonymous

      Hmm... You seem to value your own name way too high. No one is out to get you, man. Its not your social security number.

      • Adams Immersive

        I’ve participated in a gaming clan where one member got really out of control once. I don’t fear someone like that coming to my house, but I could fear him attacking online in other ways, like a DoS against my business site, or FaceBook stalking, or whatever.

        Anonymity is important as long as SOME people are stupid, immature, angry or crazy. And those people are far from rare.

    • CyberData4

      I just like to keep my REAL life and my online "life" separate. I like to keep my real identity and my virtual identity separate. And so does 99.9% of the posters here. All this ensures is that I'll never gamecenter ANYONE that is not a real life acquaintance. Just like I do with Real ID and Blizzard games.

  • Anonymous

    No big deal to me. True i only have people on my Gamecentre list who are actual friends, but If I don't want to trust you with who I am, then its pretty likely I'd not want to game with you in the first place.

    So long as this is limited only to friend request notifications then, meh, this would actually be pretty helpful. I had a request the other day from a nickname I assumed was a stranger who'd typed in my nick by mistake, I declined. It was in fact a friend with a new iPhone.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I completely agree.

    • Josh L

      I also agree. It's not like the big deal that was raised over WoW's plans for this. It's completely opt in, choose whoever you want. It isn't retroactive and just suddenly displaying your name in places you don't want it.

      As long as someone can't find my name in a leaderboard, type it in, and get my real name. Although even then, I don't think I'd be super worried.

    • Anon

      except, some people like to make new (gaming) friends without the risk of someone showing up at your door. This move by Apples will only create "closed" communities like you have. Sad move on their part...

  • Anonymous

    If real names find their way onto an online leaderboard or something like that, then I'll be bidding Game Center adieu. I don't need potential employers/girlfriends knowing the borderline absurd amount of Angry Birds that I play.

    • Anon

      well said.

  • http://dendory.net Dendory

    This is pretty bad and weird since Game Center is still a small player compared with Plus+, OpenFeint and all the others. Now if they start alienating users, people will just go back to the other networks.

  • Darthslim108

    I don't even care really. Gameloft Live is a much better service IMO. I have a few games with Game Center achievements, but I don't have any friends on there.

  • Anonymous

    So it is just the initial push notification that displays your real name, or is your name retained on a friend's list which can be accessed by a friend clicking on your nick?

  • Anonymous

    Thank goodness... Now I can know who out of my friend requests are actually my friends and who are random people...

  • Hbcfdjvzjcthchc

    I don't like that...

  • Josh

    I am never accepting the TOS. Back to OpenFeint.

  • http://twitter.com/j3553H jesse

    yeah well my name in itunes is bingbooch fookface so yeah..no privacy worries fior me.

  • Anonymous

    This has to be stupidest thing ever. I guess I'll be going to back to the alternatives after all. Probably just as well. Gamecenter is pretty much a bust so far. It doesn't really offer anything over the alternatives. If they'd integrated it with the system so you could get notifications of friends coming online in a game we have, like Xbox, then it would be a worthy effort. Right now it doesn't do anything special.

  • http://www.smashd.de SmashD

    Even if you argument with the "know if he's the real one" thing, would'nt it be a middle ground to show only the first char of your last name?

  • Alex

    Honestly, who cares. It's just your name, how the hell does it pose a threat to you if some iPhone gamer knows your name. Stop complaining people.

    • Thetram

      How? zabbasearch.

      Google it.

    • Josh

      A give in to privacy only lets them know you are willing to give them more information. Then next they will ask to show your birthday and email. Then they will want to show your location and phone number. Then they will want to show your picture and your address. Once you let them have a little they will continue asking until privacy is no longer privacy.

      This is why you will never see me on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or anything else. Privacy is becoming rare and the more people give up the more they will want to take. There has to be a limit somewhere and I refuse to use a service like this that makes giving up a little privacy mandatory.

    • Anon

      Let me show up at your door and explain it to you...(see the issue?)

  • Peter

    I won't use it if I cannot be anonymous. Privacy should be a right for everybody. Using Apple's service doesn't mean they own out information to use as they desire.

  • gateofselidor

    I don't like the way Apple wants to attach real names to these kinds of social networks without giving you any option besides 'don't use it'. I know a lot of people don't care about it because for them there aren't any real risks or problems that could arise for them, but that's not the case for everyone. I'm trans and the last thing I want people online knowing is my legal name, which doesn't match up with how I identify myself online.

    It's not just people who are more vulnerable to harassment either - anyone can want privacy for all sorts of reasons, and that's their own business.

    • TheTheory

      Thank you. This is the first legit concern I've seen in this thread.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cat-Astrophy/100000838113704 Cat Astrophy

      Blizzard does this and they are the largest online gaming company ever. So it works. Bow down to the future or remain in the world of solo gaming.

      • Anonymous

        By 'does this', I'm assuming you mean 'tried to implement it, had thousands of people and dozens of big-name news sites report on how offensive it was to users privacy, and backed down within a few days removing all mandatory aspects and making everything about it completely optional, for which the majority of users are grateful for'.

        So it doesn't really work. Blizzard gamers are happily still enjoying their anonymity, and only sharing their real names if they wish to.

  • Yanley504

    add me yanley504

  • Anonymous

    Dude seems to make a lot of sense!

    http://www.real-privacy.edu.tc

  • andrzej raczynski

    "...many gamers take anonymity seriously." should read: "...many gamers take their griefing seriously".

    anyway, could care less either way. unless you're playing some porn games, who gives a frack if someone knows your name?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Glidewell/100000212448298 James Glidewell

    Oh dear - this means my gamer name of "jimglidewell" will reveal my real name is "Jim Glidewell" - heavens to betsy!

  • http://zerocorpse.tumblr.com/ ZeroCorpse

    Yeah... I'm not a fan of this. I use gamer tags and online handles for a reason: I like my privacy. Not all of us are social butterflies who want to meet bunches of people online. I don't care what my opponent's real name is, and I don't want them to know mine, because our relationship will last less than an hour. There's NO REASON they need to know anything about me whatsoever.

    So no Game Center for me, I guess.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Phoenixfury6652 Wally McCarty

    I'm sure this is for all the same reasons Nintendo uses those frustrating friend codes. If I had a choice between friend codes or using my real name, I'd certainly use my real name if I don't ever have to enter another friend code again. Friend codes are of the same evil that brought us blister packaging, cd, and DVD cellophane packaging.

  • test

    apple is beginning to suck!
    That stinks, steve!!!

  • Tower Defender

    I keep my real name on a need to know basis or when I'm being polite/formal in a message. It just seems like an unneeded move by Apple. It is like they are baiting people to complain.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cat-Astrophy/100000838113704 Cat Astrophy

    They are just following in the footsteps of the company who makes the most successful online games to date: Blizzard. This is what Real ID does with Battle.net integration.

  • well-wisher

    is it's possible to change the name in itunes account? for anyone who buys giftcards and doesn not use credit card that should be possibl, or?

  • Bracken

    I added quite a few ppl on forums to my gamecenter and I was happy to give my gamecenter name out. I won't be using gamecenter any more. It seems so strange by apple , I wouldnt give my real name out on forums. Why the change? It seems mad.

  • NightOwl

    I have no problem with this. I only friend people I personally know. So this is no big deal to me.

    • Anon

      As long as your happy NightOwl. The other 10 million of us have a slight issue. ;)

    • Guest

      This coming from "NightOwl".

  • GiHubb

    Smart move, I think it's fine that friends can see each others full names. I actually think the nick is kinda silly between mates. It would make it easier also to track who's who. If it works with facebook, I don't see any problem here.

  • Anonymous

    I guess Apple's trying to be like Facebook here, but I don't think they compare. Everybody I know has a browser and can use Facebook, so I only have real friends on Facebook - that's not something I use to find random strangers. Game Center, though, I only have one family member who has an iOS device and only a few friends with one, so I can't just limit it to my friends/family or it's going to be quite the lonely place. So for me, Game Center is about competing with "friends" I've met through forums. I would love if it could just be family and real friends, but that's not possible. I don't care to share my name with them and I don't care to know their name either. I suppose I could change my "real" name to a bogus one, but that's just annoying.

  • Phil

    What about kids whose parents pay for their iTunes purchases, so their name is not the billing name associated with the account? Can't imagine they would be happy about being identified by mum or dad's name.

    • Phil

      Ah, looks like I can create a new Apple ID, unrelated to the one I use for iTunes, set up whatever real name I want and log in to GameCenter using that. The fact that I can do this does seem to make Apple's change a bit pointless, though...

  • WP

    First I declined "Ping" because it would change all reviews to show real name; now I get to decline "Game Center" for the same reason. Guessing eventually Apple will remove all options for 'usernames' and only allow real names to be used with whatever services they come up with?

  • Jim DeVona

    My opinion differs from many expressed here. I think this is a wise move. It's a topical subject, too - see this recent New York Times article titled "Anonymity Breeds Contempt": http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/opinion/30zhuo.html?_r=3&src=tptw

  • Batsugun

    To all those who think its no big deal. Blizzard was going to do this on battle net. Why didn't they? Well a moderator wanted to prove it was no big deal so he posted his name. In less than an hour battle net users posted his social security number, home address, children names and more personal information. This put an end to real names on battle net.

    Real names is an identity theif wet dream.

    I wont be using any game center games any more my self.

  • Anonymous

    Haha no big deal. I have a second iTunes account with a fake name. That's it :)

  • Caleb M

    Solution: Make a new iTunes account with a fake name or just your first name with the first letter of your last name.

    It's honestly not that hard to avoid this if you don't want your name to be shown. We need more people to think outside the box naturally instead of people flaming at Apple's decision. Think like a ninja.