A screen shot from the game World of Warcraft. ((Courtesy of Activision/Blizzard))

The maker of the hugely popular World of Warcraft video game has reversed a previous plan that would have required users of its game forums to post under their real names.

California-based Activision/Blizzard kicked off a storm of controversy last week when it announced that players would have to use its Real ID system when posting in forums for games such as World of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo. Blizzard Entertainment, the Activision/Blizzard subsidiary that publishes World of Warcraft, said the move away from anonymity was designed to eliminate nasty comments and name calling in the forums.

Tens of thousands of gamers took to the forums to object, citing privacy concerns and a desire to remain anonymous. Some users also lodged complaints with privacy watchdogs in several countries, including Canada.

Over the weekend, Blizzard backtracked on the move, which was supposed to kick in with the July 27 release of StarCraft II, and said it would not apply Real ID to its forums.

"I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that every voice matters and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games," said Blizzard chief executive Mike Morhaime on the World of Warcraft forum. 

"We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard's success from the beginning."

The company said it would continue pushing the Real ID system on a voluntary basis for users who wish to communicate across its games.

Gamers cheered the reversal of the mandatory measure. "Thank you for thinking clearly," said one post on the forum.

World of Warcraft has more than 11 million players worldwide.