Overwatch: Blizzard is working hard to stop the ‘rising tide of toxicity’ in their game, but needs players to help too

By James O'Connor, Thursday, 14 September 2017 06:49 GMT

Jeff Kaplan, vice president of Blizzard, has used the latest Overwatch development diary to discuss issues the game has had with toxic behaviour.

In the video, entitled ‘Play Nice, Play Fair’, Kaplan talks about the ‘rising tide of toxicity’ that many have felt in Overwatch, and what is being done, and what can be done, to stop it from rising further.

As he notes, the reporting function has made its way over to consoles now as part of the 1.14 patch. It’s ‘not perfect’, Kaplan says, but it has more of an impact than people realise. So far Blizzard has taken disciplinary action against 480,000 accounts, 340,000 of which were identified because of the reporting system. Meanwhile 20,000 emails have been sent out to players to let them know about action that has come about because of their reports, although Kaplan would like to change the system so that communicate happens through the game.

Some people have complained that there isn’t enough deterrent when a report is made against them. Kaplan says that the team is constantly ‘tuning and adjusting punishment thresholds and gravity’ to determine what is worth punishing, and how badly to punish. Bad behaviour won’t magically go away, he says, but they’re working – both visibly and behind the scenes – to ensure that it’s less of an issue going forward.

Kaplan says they don’t want to set up a system where people who are jerks online get set up with other jerks. ‘If you are a bad person doing bad things in Overwatch, we don’t want you in Overwatch’, he says. ‘It’s an inclusive, aspirational universe, and the gameplay experience should match what Overwatch is hoping to achieve’

Kaplan also advises that the community needs to ‘look inward’ and confront their own behaviour. He says he wants players to spread positivity rather than negativity. Right now, he says, Blizzard is spending ‘a tremendous amount of time and resources’ on punishing people, and they want some of that time back to actually work on the game, and to implement new, fun features.

Check out the full video, embedded above, for Kaplan’s developer diary.

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