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World of Warcraft's upcoming "Silence Penalty" aims to curb abusive chat

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The great strength of MMOs—that they are massive—is also one of their greatest weaknesses: It only takes one loud jerk to ruin an enjoyable experience. To help crack down on the problem, Blizzard is implementing a new “silence penalty” in World of Warcraft that will put the hush on players who engage in abusive or inappropriate “chat behaviors.” 

Once the penalty is in place, players who are reported under the Spam or Abusive Chat categories will be investigated and—assuming they're found guilty—be given an account-wide penalty that will severely restrict their chat options. Silenced players will be unable to: 

  • Talk in Instance Chat (Raid, Party, and Battlegrounds)
  • Talk in global channels that are auto joined (such as General or Trade)
  • Create Calendar Invites/Events
  • Send in-game mail
  • Send Party Invitations
  • Send War Game Invitations
  • Send Invitations to Duel
  • Update a Premade Group Listing
  • Create a New List for a Premade Group

Other forms of communication, like whispering to friends and talking in moderated global channels, will still be available. But Blizzard isn't dicking around here: The silence penalty for a first offense will last for 24 hours, and each subsequent penalty will be doubled, with no upper limit. In other words, five offenses and you'll be shut down for more than two weeks, which should be enough to discourage all but the most inveterate of loudmouths.

The Silence Penalty will be added to WoW in a patch preceding the launch of the Legion expansion, which is set to come out on August 30.

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.