Overwatch 2 is targeting players who play with cheaters even if they're not cheating themselves

Mercy in Overwatch 2
(Image credit: Tyler C. / Activision Blizzard)

Blizzard has used an update about toxicity and cheating in Overwatch 2 to slip-out a bit of a humblebrag: Since launch, the game has attracted "over 40 million players, both returning and new." Partly that's because, unlike the original, Overwatch 2 is free-to-play, but even so that's a staggering number of players ignoring the objective.

The Overwatch 2 dev team gives its approach to bad behaviour the D.Va-inspired and grandiose name of the Defense Matrix initiative, which I'm sure has the nasty sorts quaking in their boots. Blizzard says that early rollout of its system for detecting "disruptive" voice chat has begun and it has "proven to be exceptionally accurate and effective in identifying abusive chat and language." When bad chat is identified, the game will selectively silence the guilty parties and in worse cases apply account suspensions.

Blizzard is also taking aim at inappropriate content in custom games, probably because a persistent problem for the game has been things like a 'sexual harassment simulator' appearing in the game's popular list. It says it has some new moderation tools that will automatically target "inappropriate titles or content, along with issuing restrictions or account actions to those who create and post such custom games."

An option for players to hide their and others' battletags during games is being introduced to combat stream-sniping. On top of this, players will also be able to hide the current queue time and delay it for a random amount before the game actually begins, as well as hiding replay codes.

Over 50,000 accounts have been "actioned" for cheating since launch, and Blizzard's had enough, to the extent it's no longer just targeting the cheaters, but those who go along with them. From season 3 it's looking to identify players who regularly group-up with cheaters, and will take action against these accounts, even if they're not cheating themselves, with "severe suspensions" and in extreme cases outright bans. Blizzard even gets a bit finger-waggy about it: "players who knowingly group up with cheaters are looking to take the same advantage as those who use cheats themselves, including boosting their accounts to skill levels they would not normally belong in with their own skill." OK, Mum.

The developer ends by reiterating something that's a feature of this update: Report, report, report. Blizzard says it's more likely to take action against behaviour when it's reported, and is working on making the UI for doing so easier, but report whatever you see. Just reading this made me feel a bit like a narc, even though I know we're talking about douchebags, but it's clear Blizzard wants players to approach this like most of the team compositions I end up on: No Mercy.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."