Everyone knows that toxic players can go a long way toward ruining a specific Overwatch match with trollish play or abusive chat language. But as Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan points out in his latest developer update video, policing that kind of bad behavior also impacts the game as a whole by taking developer resources away from making actual new content.
While the Overwatch team is passionate about making new maps, heroes, and animated shorts for the game, Kaplan says “we’re spending a tremendous amount of time and resources punishing people and trying to make people behave better… The bad behavior is not just ruining the experience for one another, but it’s actually making the game progress in terms of developement at a much slower rate.”
As one example of this problem, Kaplan pointed out that the Overwatch team members who recently implemented a player reporting system on consoles had to delay work on creating a match history and replay system for the game. Adding these tools for console players seems necessary, though; so far on the PC, over 70 percent of the 480,000 disciplinary actions taken against player accounts have been “a direct result of players using the reporting system,” Kaplan said.
The new video comes weeks after Kaplan announced that the Overwatch team would be implementing stricter and faster punishments for problem players and would begin notifying players when their reports led to disciplinary action. So far, 20,000 such notifications have been sent as part of a pilot test, Kaplan said, to encourage players that their reports have an effect.
Kaplan reiterated in yesterday’s video that the Overwatch team is committed to fighting “the rising tide of toxicity or bad behavior in the game” with continued development. “There isn’t going to be a moment where we have a magic patch in Overwatch that makes bad behavior go away, but it is a continual process that we are very dedicated to fixing and improving.”
But Kaplan also implored the player base itself to work to bring more positivity to the game and for the “community to own up to their part in the accountability that they have for really creating a great game space.” While he said he doesn’t want to “lay a guilt trip” on players that may occasionally let their anger and anonymity get the better of them, players themselves “can play a very important part” in making the game a more welcoming place.
While some other titles segregate problem players into their own trolls-only zone, Kaplan was adamant that Overwatch would not have any areas for “just the bad people.” The game should be “an inclusive gamespace in an inclusive, aspirational universe,” he said. “If you are a bad person doing bad things in Overwatch, we don’t want you in Overwatch.”