As in all competitive games, the behavior of a player’s teammates can make or break the experience, and Overwatch is no exception. Players on the community forums and subreddit have become vocal in their frustration lately, citing unpleasant experiences with toxic and generally uncooperative teammates on the game’s competitive mode. On the celebrity side, community icons TimTheTatMan and DSPStanky – both well-known for their regular, entertaining Overwatch broadcasts – have departed the scene entirely, though their reasons differ.
Luckily, it does seem that Blizzard’s not grown entirely deaf to the woes of Overwatch’s players. In an announcement made over the game’s forums, the company revealed that they would soon be cracking down hard on “bad behavior.”
“We believe that our in-game reporting and player penalty system is one of our most important features, and it’s something we want to invest in significantly over the next year. To this end, effective immediately, we will be issuing increased penalties to players in response to verified reports of bad behavior.”
In Overwatch, bad behavior can of course refer to a variety of unpleasant actions. Harassing other players through chat or in-game voice, spamming derogatory or racist/sexist/homophobic messages, and issuing threats are some of the most common banworthy offenses in online video games, and the same is true for all of Blizzard’s products.
One of the biggest problems unique to competitive games like Overwatch is the act of deliberately idling or “throwing” (losing) a match by intentionally not contributing to your team. While seemingly not a big deal in and of itself, losing a competitive match is doubly frustrating for players due to the loss of rank that follows. In Overwatch, it can take hours of intense, dedicated playing to attain your perceived-deserving position on the game’s leaderboards, and losing because of an unpleasant teammate is enough to turn even diehard fans away.
Though the announcement is directed primarily towards PC players, Blizzard stated that they would also be bringing a similar reporting system to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One further down the line.
“As console players ourselves, we know it’s been frustrating to not have this functionality on your platform. We are actively working on the feature and have many elements of undergoing internal testing right now. Our goal is to implement similar reporting options as are currently available on PC, and any improvements made to PC between now and when it’s available.”
The extent to this system can only be guessed at, and its capability for abuse is similarly unknown. Many players, familiar with the extent to which childish, vindictive teammates will go, have voiced their concerns that the new system would encourage dishonest reports, resulting in false bans on innocent players. Blizzard addressed these concerns in a statement over Twitter: