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Overwatch endorsements and 'looking for group' features are already working

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It's only been a few weeks since the "looking for group" feature and endorsements were rolled out to Overwatch, but they're already having a positive effect. Game director Jeff Kaplan shared some early stats in a brief forum post indicating that abusive behavior has gone down dramatically in the Americas and Korea since the features went live. 

Competitive matches containing abusive chat were down 26.4 percent in the Americas and 16.4 percent in Korea, Kaplan said, while the percent of daily players being abusive has shrunk by 28.8 percent in the Americas and 21.6 percent in Korea. Other stats aren't available yet, as Kaplan said he's "just sharing what progress we had" so far. 

"Looking for group" gives players the ability to set specific parameters for matchmaking, such as restricting roles or requiring voice chat, while endorsements recognize "commendable behavior" in the game, like sportsmanship, "being a good teammate," or getting on the payload. It's kind of a preemptive moderation system: Instead of punishing bad behavior, it rewards positive play and attitudes, although the specifics of the promised "periodic rewards" haven't been announced yet.   

"We’re really pleased with the community’s efforts to make OW a better place! Thank you all!" Kaplan wrote. "And we’ll keep working on iterating on these features to make them better as well as exploring other systems to improve the gameplay environment."

I don't think anyone believes that toxicity in online gaming can ever be fully eliminated, but it's really pleasing to see efforts like this (and Ubisoft's, which comes at Rainbow Six Siege from a completely opposite but also effective direction) come to fruition. Competition is great, but abusive behavior is something entirely different.

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.