As video game communities grow, it is inevitable that there will be increased numbers of “toxic players,” who essentially only play games to ruin the fun for everybody else. Now that Overwatch has been out for over a year, this has become a bigger problem. Jeff Kaplan, one of the leads on the Overwatch team, has released another “Developer Update” that explains how Blizzard plans to tackle toxic players in their very successful game.
The Overwatch team has been diligent in keeping the play space as friendly and fun as possible, but Kaplan goes into more detail about how they are dealing with toxic players. Kaplan goes over how to deal with these players from the user’s perspective, what the team plans on doing about it, and how they don’t want those creating a poor environment in the community at all.
There are several different types of toxic players in Overwatch, but the main culprits force their own teams to lose (also known as “throwing”), especially in the ranked Competitive mode which has a ranking system determined by wins and losses. Sometimes these players have that mindset from the start of the game, but since Overwatch is very focused on balance and team composition, some will also throw games if, for example, somebody chose to play as Hanzo. In extreme cases, some PC players have figured out ways to kick their opponents out of the game by messing with their connection, ruining matches. Outside of throwing, users also use abusive language in the various chat options.
First and foremost, Kaplan encourages everybody to use the “Report” feature on their respective platforms. PC has had this feature since Overwatch’s original release and Kaplan says that most of the 400,000+ reports have been addressed because of that feature. Console users have only recently seen the option added a couple weeks ago, but it is by far the best way to bring a problem to Blizzard’s attention. Kaplan addresses the option to have a server dedicated to toxic players, but he has decided that those with bad intentions only deserved to be banned from the game entirely. There are currently automated punishments in place for those who leave competitive games early, but those punishments might be harsher in the near future.
It is hard to disagree with Kaplan’s simple philosophy regarding the Overwatch community: “If you are a bad person, we don’t want you playing Overwatch.” Putting your all into a game only for a teammate to ruin it is the worst experience possible in a multiplayer setting and considering that some competitive games can take up to 20 minutes, that is a lot of time wasted for at least five people. Of course, only time will tell if these changes will improve the game’s atmosphere, but focusing on toxicity slows down the developmental process of other promising features. Hopefully, Blizzard can soon go back to making Overwatch better and better.
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