Blizzard released another developer update for Overwatch last week, detailing a number of changes for the summer season of the game and a new anti-cheat system. An update video like this has been expected, with the upcoming annual Summer Games event and a rumored thirty-first playable hero on the horizon.
Ever since the release of the game in 2016, Blizzard has been trying to combat the influx of Overwatch's cheaters and toxic players. Given the longstanding popularity of Overwatch, it's not surprising that these elements of the player base continue to be a problem for the rest of its community. But this problem is still a top priority for Blizzard, and the developer has been diligent in working out ways to deal with it, including a streamlined reporting feature and the implementation of a rating system for players with good behavior.
The latest video in director Jeff Kaplan's ongoing series of updates highlights Blizzard's most recent attempt to curb cheaters: an automatic shutdown system for matches where cheating is detected. If the server picks up on any kind of illicit actions that break the fundamental rules of the game, such as aimbots or wallhacks, it will automatically shut down the match. None of the players on either team will be penalized for the match shutdown, so their ranks and ratings will not be impacted in competitive modes. This feature has been live on Overwatch's Public Test Realm for a little while, but Kaplan says it will be added to the full version soon and that it will be the next major evolution of cheat detection in the game.
The idea has gotten a broadly positive reception within the Overwatch community, many of whom are no strangers to playing with (and against) cheaters. A Reddit post discussing the feature is filled with the comments of people sharing their thoughts and experiences with cheating, and their gratitude to Blizzard for its uncommon dedication to keeping the game as fair as possible. However, others have raised legitimate doubts about this feature; many are afraid of false positives within the system and worry about how it could be exploited.
While this may be the most comprehensive anti-cheat method that Overwatch has had yet, it remains to be seen how effective it really is. As any sufficiently popular multiplayer game ages, it will attract more and more cheaters looking for holes in the system. It'll be great if this system can consistently identify and shut down cheating properly, but it will get very frustrating very quickly if it gets too many false positives.