Dota 2 works to rehabilitate abusive players, sees drop in overall abuse reports

Anyone who plays online multiplayer games is familiar with players using anonymity to misbehave: abusive, whining, foul-mouthed trolls sucking the joy out of every game, free of repercussions. Some games issue bans, some games implement a mute button, but few games ever seem to solve the issue.

Valve's Dota 2 team, though, is trying something a little different. In a detailed blog post , the team lays out the hows and whys of their new communication ban system, which makes players with established "patterns of behavior over time" unable to communicate via in-game text or chat.

The team focused on this problem after analyzing some data on why players quit the game. They found that most players who quit are not, in fact, simply sore losers.

"[T]he outcome of matches doesn't correlate at all to the likelihood of quitting... But one thing that did stand out in the data was the amount of negative communication between players. Put simply, you are more likely to quit if there is abusive chat going on in your games."

The results?

  • "Since the ban system has been implemented, there's been a 35% drop in negative communication interactions.
  • Less than the 1% of the active player base (players who have played Dota 2 in the last month) are currently banned.
  • 60% of players who receive bans go on to modify their behavior and don't receive further bans.
  • Total reports are down more than 30%, even after accounting for the reduction in the number permitted per week."

Pretty stellar results so far, and it's still early. The core concept is as fascinating as it is common sense: banning players reduces the player base, and a smaller player base hurts the overall game community. By permanently muting abusive players, the game base continues to grow and players who cross the line have a chance to continue playing and, hopefully, reform their ways.

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