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Toxic Overwatch players are about to get hit with new punishments

Jeff Kaplan gave players an inside glimpse at changes to come to Overwatch’s reporting and punishment system.

Officer D.Va is here to crack down on any toxic players.
Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch has had a problem with player toxicity since the game’s launch. Having players get a little too heated and take it out on their allies is a common problem for multiplayer games, and Overwatch is no exception to the rule. Nearly every online game that is based around working with allies (and depending on their performance to gain rewards) can turn into a powder keg. Add in the fact that all players are thrown into a void chat lobby together, and things can get really rude really fast.

Recently, Jeff Kaplan made headlines for expertly (yet kindly) dismantling a player who claimed that he had been unfairly punished. It was a satisfying moment, similar to the Lyte Smites from League of Legends history. Watching Jeff Kaplan expertly turn a troll’s claims of innocence around on him was immensely satisfying.

The callout

We checked the IP address of the account you posted from and found a suspended account.

That account has a total of 2247 complaints filed against it -- making it one of the worst offending accounts we've seen. The account has also been silenced for a total of 9216 hours. There are 3 gameplay suspensions on the account as well as 7 silences against this account (these are for abusive chat and/or spam). There is also a manual GM account suspension for "massive griefing" levied.

So I'm not sure if that's the account you're referring to or not, but someone from your IP has been a less-than-ideal OW citizen.

If that's not your account, please let us know what the BattleTag is and I'm happy to look into it further. The last thing we want is good, upstanding members of the community being punished unfairly.

He’s got you in his sights... especially if you’re a toxic player.
Blizzard Entertainment

There’s just one problem with that, and it’s that, well, that troll is one guy. When there are thousands of toxic players, it’s frustrating for players. Jeff Kaplan followed up with fan complaints in a separate post. The fan noted that the troll who had been completely dunked on by Kaplan and had his extreme history pointed out... had only scored a one week ban. The user critiqued the community for being “unchecked” because “no one fears the system.”

Kaplan stepped back into the thread to answer these questions and clarify Blizzard’s upcoming systems for player punishment.

“Bans may become more common.”

We have short, medium and long term plans and we haven't done a great job in communicating all of these things to you. In the short term we are re-evaluating every punishment and are in the process of converting silences over to suspensions. We're also increasing the length of suspensions. Pretty soon, we hope for silences to go away all together and only have suspensions and bans for punishments (with a few exceptions like forced BattleTag changes for naming violations). Also in the short term, we've been testing an email notification system to let you know when someone you've reported has been actioned. We cannot provide a lot of detail in these emails but they only go out if an action has taken place (meaning your report contributed to someone getting suspended). The other short term thing we just did was ban a number of accounts for boosting in Season 5. These accounts were actioned either yesterday or are in the process of being actioned. They will lose all Season 5 rewards.

These changes are similar to League of Legends systems that automatically inform players when they have filed a successful report. This also suggests that bans may become more common, as opposed to silencing a player but allowing them to enter a game and, say, try to play melee Torbjorn as a sophisticated form of trolling.

“We're looking to completely ban repeated Competitive offenders.”

In the medium term, we're looking to completely ban repeated Competitive offenders meaning if you've been banned for more than X seasons, we will ban you from ever playing competitive again. We also want to increase the email notification system to other forms of reporting as well as work on an in-game notification system to let you know that your reports are doing something (this will edge more into the long term section -- the in game part). For Season 6, we're going to be way more aggressive with boosting/throwing or any sort of SR manipulation. We have some very smart people who are getting very good at detecting this behavior and we are actively building systems (and punishments) around SR abuse. Also in the medium term, we have a new series of punishments we're going to try that escalates much more quickly (so you don't have egregious cases like the one you're referencing). Basically, extreme offenders will "strike out" of the game much quicker. As part of these increasing punishments, we're looking to make it so that offenders get blocked from Competitive play much sooner -- more details on this as we get closer.

The competitive ban is a very interesting change, especially considering that Blizzard is working on creating a totally open esports ecosystem that’s built off competitive. Not only would players not be able to earn golden weapons, they wouldn’t be able to participate in the Overwatch Open Division. Banning players from competitive would certainly make it a more serious, focused environment, and it’s interesting that Blizzard are willing to crack down with some serious changes to maintain that feeling.

He’s not mad; he’s just disappointed

In the long term, we really want to work on systems that encourage positive behavior and reward good players. It really bums us out to spend so much time punishing people for being bad sports. We like making cool, fun game systems -- that's what we do for a living. But because people seem to lack self-control or because people like to abuse anonymity and free speech we're put in a position of spending a tremendous amount of our time and resources policing the community. We will do this as it is our responsibility but we'd like to spend more time rewarding good players rather than having to focus on poor sportsmanship and unacceptable bad behavior so much. Like it or not, this is an "us, the OW community problem" and not just an "OW team problem". For better or for worse, we're in this together.

We're working hard to make changes. I hope you all do too.

On one hand, it’s exciting to know that more player moderation tools and systems are coming. On the other hand, it’s interesting to see Kaplan try to appeal to players’ basic decency. Many active community efforts seem to think that self-moderation isn’t a viable strategy for players, but Blizzard still maintains that ember of faith. It’s optimistic, but maybe that’s fitting for a utopian setting like Overwatch.