Valorant boss announces new measures to crack down on toxic players, with harsh words for the worst offenders: 'We won't miss you'

Valorant's agents Neon, Reyna, and Killjoy
(Image credit: Riot Games)

Valorant studio head Anna Donlon says Riot Games is taking new steps to address toxic behavior in the game, and delivered a pointed message to the most egregious offenders: "If you need to make truly evil statements under the guise of regular shit talk to enjoy gaming, then please play something else."

The video message (via Kotaku) comes after several recent instances of abusive conduct were shared on social media: In one clip that recently went viral, a player was repeatedly threatened with rape. In the video, Donlon said addressing that kind of behavior is a priority for Riot, and "one of the most challenging issues" it faces, and that Riot's systems and technologies "have been making a lot of progress" in reducing toxicity.

At the same time, she acknowledged that those systems cannot catch everything: "At the end of the day, there are still some people in this world who want to take out their insecurity or their bad day or their hate or their whatever on some stranger through their computer screen."

"Too often it takes someone experiencing the worst behaviors—something egregious, something painful, something threatening for us to better understand where the gaps in our systems and processes are," Donlon said. "And that's exactly what we're experiencing and addressing right now."

Riot has no interest in cracking down on "banter," Donlon said, nor is it looking to "sanitize gaming by over-addressing these issues." But players should not be forced to mute comms or "grow a thicker skin" in order to play online without facing abuse: "There's no room in our community for the most egregious behaviors, and we're not going to compromise on that point."

Most Valorant players who are sanctioned for bad behavior don't do it again, according to Donlon, and those who do represent "a very small fraction of our player base." But the current systems aren't doing enough to deter the worst offenders, so Riot is taking further steps to weed them out. Over the next 30 days, Riot's policies will be updated to allow for more serious penalties, applied more quickly, to "the most severe behaviors," including hate speech, severe sexual content, and threats of violence. New penalties including temporary, permanent, and hardware bans will also be imposed.

Riot will also increase the size of the teams handling manual behavior reviews to accommodate an anticipated increase in reports, and it's going to broaden the use of its Voice Evaluation systems, which collects and evaluates in-game voice comms when disruptive behavior reports are submitted. Last but not least, Riot will "go back and perform a one time review of the top suspected offenders from the previous act and issue penalties accordingly."

(Image credit: Riot Games (Twitter))

Donlon acknowledged that most of these systems come into play after abuse has occurred, but the ultimate goal "is to make it so that the people who want to play Val are able to love playing Val."

Talk is cheap, but Donlon's candid comments and acknowledgement that there are limits to what technology can accomplish is refreshing, and it's been met with a widely positive reaction. Some players are understandably holding their applause until actions are taken, but the frank assessment of the problem, and clear steps toward addressing it, are at the very least movement in the right direction. And for Valorant players whose actions sparked this update, Donlon didn't mince words.

"If you need to make truly evil statements under the guise of regular shit talk to enjoy gaming, then please play something else. We won't miss you," she said. Then, addressing Valorant players directly, she continued, "We can't stop them from opening their mouths and saying something awful. I wish we could, but we can't stop that part. What we can do is help escort them out of our game spaces."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.