Taking Out the Trash: ‘Overwatch’ Devs Go After Toxic Players

If you’ve played competitive games online, you’ve without a doubt experienced some form of harassment — from simple name-calling to more egregious, racist slurs. Even generally positive games like Overwatch aren’t immune to that sort of behavior from the lesser parts of gaming culture. But developer Blizzard isn’t willing to sit back and do nothing.

Recently, the team added the ability to report abusive players, and they’ve begun issuing warnings to misbehaving gamers to inform them that further negative actions on their part will lead to a suspension or ban. Additionally, they’re keeping the process transparent by informing players who’ve reported misbehavers that action has been taken.

And so far, the changes have been helping. Jeff Kaplan, Overwatch director and lead game designer, reported in a YouTube address that incidents of abusive chat have gone down 17 percent since reporting features were added. Also, proactive player reporting is up 20 percent. While he acknowledges those numbers could be higher, it’s a great start.

Also, the team is working on more proactive methods of taking down abusers. For example, Blizzard has begun scouring YouTube and other social media platforms, looking for players who are misbehaving in-game. They then track those players down to their actual Overwatch IDs and issue warnings or bans.

Obviously, the developer doesn’t want to reveal too much about their proactive plans, so as to avoid tipping off the problematic elements in the community and giving them a chance to circumvent Blizzard’s action, but it’s encouraging to see the company take such serious action to combat a really problematic element in the gaming world.