After the recent Developer Update centered around the idea of “Play Nice, Play Fair”, Blizzard are unveiling some more information on their upcoming anti-toxicity measures.
The first measure is that repeat offenders will face permanent bans from Competitive Play. If you rack up three or more bans during the course of competitive play, you’re potentially out of Competitive Play forever. These bans are not forgotten. Community Manager Josh Engen explains it like this:
Seasonal bans do not need to be consecutive to qualify for a permanent Competitive Play ban. For example, if a player earned seasonal bans in Seasons 2 and 4, and then earns another ban in Season 7, he or she will be eligible for a permanent ban from Competitive Play as soon as that third seasonal ban is issued. Additionally, neither seasonal bans nor permanent Competitive Play bans will decay or reset over time; once an account is permanently banned, it currently cannot return to good standing.
This measure will kick in starting September 27th. While this is mostly aimed at toxic players, leavers will also be hit with the ban stick. This includes people who accidentally leave games due to real life circumstances or poor internet.
That being said, the punishment is a little less extreme: If you repeatedly leave or are kicked from inactivity, you’ll be temporarily barred from competitive play, and if you return and begin to leave again, you’ll be barred again for a longer period of time. The only way to unflag your account is to play and compete matches without leaving or going inactive. Players who are banned due to leaving or inactivity can be banned for the season and give up their spray and competitive point bundle.
Console players are also getting a new anti-toxicity measure; Overwatch players who are repeatedly reported through Xbox Live and have earned the “Avoid Me” label will no longer be able to use in-game voice communication in Overwatch.
Blizzard have earned some criticism regarding their approach to anti-abuse measures. Jeff Kaplan recently noted in the above Developer Update that time spent on community management and punishment is often time taken away from other in-game features. This raises questions as to whether Blizzard should establish a dedicated anti-abuse department.
These changes are the latest parts of Overwatch’s battle against player abuse. Consoles have recently received a report function, and a selection of players will now be receiving an email upon one of their reports leading to successful disciplinary action.