Blizzard has made it clear that player toxicity in Overwatch – harassment, non-cooperation, insults, slurs, etc. – has become one of their major focuses. In September, director Jeff Kaplan even said it is becoming their priority and is actively diverting from development of new content. Now, Kaplan is updating the Overwatch base on their progress in this endeavor, and explaining how they’re getting it done.
In the latest developer update, which you can watch below, Kaplan reveals that reports of bad behavior have gone up 20 percent, while incidents of abusive chat have gone down 17 percent. A decent portion of this might have to do with in-game reporting systems being added to consoles since the last update.
“We know those numbers are not as great as they could be,” Kaplan admitted. “We know that the problem is not solved and things aren’t perfect, but it’s getting a lot better and a lot of the initiatives that we’re doing here at Blizzard are starting to make a difference.”
One of these initiatives is Blizzard going outside the game to social media to find people showing off toxic game behavior on places like Youtube. The team then tracks down the accounts and takes action, regardless of whether or not there has been a report about the incident. Kaplan says the initiative has “proven very positive” in helping to reduce toxicity within the game.
You can watch the developer update here. Overwatch is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC and is currently broadcasting the Overwatch League, a showcase of competitive Overwatch.
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I’ve been going back and forth between the practical good qualities of this and also the pseudo-dystopian vibe I get from it, but I think it does more to help Overwatch than hurt it. As the Overwatch League has its own brushes with toxicity over the last few weeks, it is probably important for Blizzard to show they’re taking this seriously and they won’t allow for anything to slip through the cracks.