Blizzard is going to issue bans to players farming XP in Overwatch custom games

Some shameless Overwatch players have been using the new custom game server browser to farm for XP. Custom games reward experience upon completion, so players were setting up Skirmish matches in which they could safely AFK, collecting experience without any effort. The practice was always ethically dubious, but most players assumed it existed in some sort of grey area as far as Blizzard was concerned. 

Consider that grey area now officially black. In a forum post, game director Jeff Kaplan made it very clear that Blizzard does not approve of the practice.

"Abusing and exploiting Custom Game or any other game mode to earn experience in Overwatch while inactive is NOT okay," Kaplan said. "The reason I want to be absolutely clear about this is because we are going to start to take disciplinary action against people who partake in these activities. If you create a Custom Game that in any way encourages players to gain experience while inactive, you risk having your account banned. If you join any game mode – including Custom Games – with the intent of gaining experience while being inactive, you risk having your account banned. Also, do not name your Custom Game that in anyway even implies that gaining experience while inactive is OK – please do not even do this as a joke – because you are putting yourself at risk of having your account banned."

Kaplan went on to explain that the Overwatch team expected this sort of thing to probably happen, and has an "escalation plan" in place to combat the behavior. The actions taken today—Skirmish mode in custom games ceasing to reward experience, and implementing an AFK timer for the same—are the first steps on that plan. If players don't shape up, the nuclear option means turning off experience gain in custom games altogether.

"I really don’t want to see us getting to that point. So I am going to ask for some help from the vast majority of you who are simply playing the game and having fun and not abusing it: please report those who are creating Custom Games with the intention of gaining experience while remaining inactive. If you select someone’s Custom Game you get three options: Spectate, Join and Report. These options exist on all 3 platforms. Use the Report feature. It works."

Bo Moore

As the former head of PC Gamer's hardware coverage, Bo was in charge of helping readers better understand and use PC hardware. He also headed up the buying guides, picking the best peripherals and components to spend your hard-earned money on. He can usually be found playing Overwatch, Apex Legends, or more likely, with his cats. He is now IGN's resident tech editor and PC hardware expert.