This response is a direct effort to stop the massive number of compromised accounts by gold sellers and keyloggers. The seriousness of the situation with compromised accounts has reached such a level that wait times for item and character restoration are entirely unacceptable, even to Blizzard executives. Blizzard has taken other internal measures to deal with long wait times of people in account restoration queues, and we'll be covering those measures tomorrow.
However, with the inclusion of mandatory authenticators, this should solve a major problem for Blizzard's support and account administration teams.
The number of compromised accounts under the mandatory authenticator plan should plummet, if not be virtually eliminated, and players should be able to enjoy a much more secure gaming experience. While some might have a hard time with the transition, Blizzard can provide excellent support in getting all of their 11.5 million players up to speed. Indeed, we have already seen some incentive programs appear; the price of authenticators has dropped recently thanks to free shipping, and we are now rewarded with an in-game pet for having an authenticator attached to our accounts.
A few months ago we postulated such an idea as one of our Breakfast Topics. In Why Blizzard should make authenticators mandatory, player reaction was mixed. Some saw it as a great opportunity to eliminate compromised accounts, others thought it would be an unnecessary money grabbing scheme by Blizzard.
Perhaps the best option put forth by commenters on WoW.com was to make the authenticators mandatory with Cataclysm. Many people agreed with this, and it will be interesting to see how Blizzard rolls out their mandatory authenticator system.
On the down side to this plan is a serious logistics problem, in that Blizzard can barely keep authenticators in stock now. They have yet to prove that they have the capacity to distribute them to millions of additional players. We are currently investigating this issue and will report back once we have more information to share.
We do not know if authenticators will be mandatory on just WoW accounts or on any Battle.net account.