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Overwatch director dunks on toxic player, promises changes to reporting system

A funny thing happened on the Overwatch forums earlier this week. It began when a user complained about being banned for a week for "disruptive gameplay" in Quickplay, which he said was evidence that the system for reporting bad behavior "is clearly automated and abusable." In response, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan killed him

Not literally killed him, obviously, but he dropped the guy so hard that you can probably see the impact crater from orbit. Behold the massacre in its awesome totality below. 

It's legitimately funny, especially the way he caps it off with the "good, upstanding members" line at the end. That's the mark of a true killer. But after a few pages of laughter, a different kind of funny thing happened: A user by the name of Nere made the very good point that a player with an absolutely appalling record—"One of the worst offending accounts we've seen," as Kaplan himself admitted—really hasn't been punished for it at all. 

"Why does over 2k reports only amount to 3 gameplay suspensions and 7 silences when he has been ruining games for 2247 people and more because not everyone even reports? He is as your game master has put it, 'a massive griefer' but here is the thing: he had been allowed to do so with barely any consequences before he was banned for it and such reports accumulate from like minimum of 200 games and probably 400 matches in average," they wrote. 

"The effort to get one guy to permanently stop being nasty ingame to the rest is staggeringly high compared to how little effort he has to put to ruin quickplays for thousands of people." 

Another forum user, BT160506, helped put the matter in perspective by doing the math: 2247 complaints over 461 days of Overwatch availability works out to an average of 4.87 complaints per day, every single day—and that 9216 hours of silence is enough to cover roughly 57,600 games. "That's some global toxicity," they noted. "It's a wonder his IP hasn't been banned permanently." 

As that very good point sunk in, the conversation slowly shifted into talk about the effectiveness of Overwatch's reporting system (or, more precisely, the lack of it) and Blizzard's lenience toward bad behavior. In a follow-up thread that more directly addressed the failures of the Overwatch reporting system, Kaplan acknowledged that many of the complaints were valid and promised that a new developer update about the "reporting and punishment system," which was actually recorded last week, will be unveiled "very soon." 

For the immediate future, Blizzard plans to increase the length of player suspensions and convert silences to suspensions, with the eventual goal of doing away with silences altogether. An email notification system to let players know when someone they've report has been banned is also in the works. Further down the road, it will start handing out permanent bans to "repeated Competitive offenders," and for the upcoming Season 6 "we're going to be way more aggressive with boosting/throwing or any sort of SR manipulation." Punishments will also be escalated more quickly, so "extreme offenders will 'strike out' of the game much quicker." 

"In the long term, we really want to work on systems that encourage positive behavior and reward good players. It really bums us out to spend so much time punishing people for being bad sports. We like making cool, fun game systems—that's what we do for a living," Kaplan wrote. "But because people seem to lack self-control or because people like to abuse anonymity and free speech we're put in a position of spending a tremendous amount of our time and resources policing the community. We will do this as it is our responsibility but we'd like to spend more time rewarding good players rather than having to focus on poor sportsmanship and unacceptable bad behavior so much."

Andy Chalk
Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.