And no, this post is probably not what you expect from the title, considering the most recent news...
I remember when authenticators were first released, most players didn't care too much about them. I was one of them, but unlike many people I haven't changed my opinion on the matter since then. Basically I think that authenticators are definitely useful - but no more and no less. They are sort of like home security systems: you may have valid reasons to believe that you should have one (because you are very rich/because you share your PC with your little brother who downloads all kinds of crap) and there are tangible benefits to having one, but it also costs money and causes a bit of extra hassle in your everyday life (having to turn the security on and off all the time/having to enter what is essentially a second password every time you log on). So even though it's a useful thing to have, many people still won't want or need one, and that's alright.
I don't have a home security system because I'm pretty poor and live right across the street from a police station. I also don't have an authenticator because I think that I'm pretty sensible when it comes to keeping my passwords and my PC in general safe, and on the very small off-chance that I should mess up anyway, Blizzard seems to be pretty damn good at restoring everything within a couple of days anyway. This is one of those cases where "it's only pixels on a screen" actually rings true for me, because well... they can be replaced easily. It's not like someone clearing out your house in real life, where the burglars might never be caught and even if the insurance company pays up it still won't be the same as actually having your old stuff back.
Lately I noticed a lot of what I'd call "authenticator fanboy-ism" emerge all of a sudden, especially in the comment section on WoW.com, but in other places too, where people say things like "People without authenticators shouldn't get support from Blizzard" or "If you don't have an authenticator, you deserve to get hacked". What the hell? Do you think people who didn't buy a mini Kel'thuzad pet shouldn't get support either, since you seem to think that support is a bonus feature for buying extra gadgets on top of the game instead of, you know, actually paying for the game? Do you think people deserve to have their stuff stolen in real life if they don't have a direct line to the police? It just strikes me as utterly out of proportion.
If you want to buy an authenticator and don't mind the extra hassle every time you log in, by all means go ahead! It does provide an extra layer of security. But don't talk about people who don't feel the need for that as if they were all handing their passwords out to hackers for free. As the latest piece of news on the subject shows, it still always comes down to what the person behind the keyboard actually does with their information. No security system can protect you if you actually invite the thief into your house.
There's also been some talk about Blizzard making authenticators mandatory in the future. I'd really prefer if it didn't come to that. I will accept it if it happens and will pay those extra five pounds or whatever it will cost because I do want to continue to play the game, but I'm convinced that it will not be the end of all hacking, and Blizzard's support team will be no less busy - they might have to deal with fewer keylogging problems and the like, but instead they'll likely get lots of calls about people not knowing how to work their authenticators, losing them, breaking them, or having them stolen by "that friend who originally made the account for me". Authenticators can make people feel better about the safety of your account, but they still can't protect anyone from their own mistakes.
Answering the Gaming Questionnaire, Part One
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