MOBAs are "notoriously toxic," says Strife developer

S2 Games monetization director explains how Strife's new Karma system will help facilitate positive team behavior.

Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games are "notoriously toxic," but they don't have to be that way, argues Strife developer S2 Games monetization director Pu Liu. Speaking with GameSpot today, Liu said MOBAs can be poisonous in nature because they often force players to fight for resources against not only enemies--but also teammates.

"MOBAs are notoriously toxic; the competition for resources between teammates and enemies alike really creates a tense atmosphere," Liu said. "If a teammate does something you don't expect, you tend to react very negatively. Most genre stakeholders acknowledge the toxicity issue, and are trying to address it retroactively--by punishing bad behavior."

However, with S2 Games' upcoming MOBA Strife, the developer is employing a new Karma system that aims to addresses toxic behavior proactively and--more importantly, Liu says--facilitate team behavior through game design.

"From the ground up, Strife is designed to be less toxic by creating less competition between teammates," Liu said. "For instance, since intra-team conflict is usually the most common and worst offender that contributes to toxicity in MOBAs, we proactively addressed this in Strife with our gold sharing mechanic for brawler kills."

The Karma system is fairly basic. After a match is finished, players can rate others--positively, negatively, or indifferent. The higher a player's karma score, the more positive their rating is with the community. Player's with low ratings will literally receive items like coal, while players with high ratings stand to receive better items.

Like League of Legends and DOTA 2, Strife is a free-to-play game--another point that might scare some players away. But Liu stressed that though Strife is free-to-play, it is not pay-to-win. Every hero in the game is available to every player--no unlocking necessary.

Strife's in-game payments, instead, will allow players to acquire cosmetics like dyes and gear sets, as well as shortcuts that could otherwise be earned through gameplay.

"We believe that the key to having a healthy free-to-play game is to have an amazing experience for the free-to-play player," Liu said. "That in turn creates higher organic growth, meaning you have more chances to get players who will spend money on the game, supporting the game for the entire community."

Liu said S2 Games' overarching goal for in-game payments in Strife is to offer a system that is "elegant and clean." This means there is no dedicated "store" to speak of.

"Microtransactions are seamlessly integrated into the free player's core flow. If someone wants to spend, fantastic," Liu said. "If not, we're not cattle-herding them into a premium store under one guise or another. When someone does spend, it will be within the exact context that they are spending on--there's nothing hidden, there's no entrapment agenda."

Strife has been in closed beta for months now, and a free trial weekend begins next Friday. You can read more about the trial from our interview with Liu and sign up for the free weekend at the Strife website.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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64 comments
vadagar1
vadagar1

i still prefer dota2


its merciless but im really good at it so I don't care :P

theKSMM
theKSMM

Articles like this are one reason why I have mostly avoided multiplayer gaming.  So I've never played any of these games.  It's keeps my blood pressure down.

lostn
lostn

Any team based game has potential to be toxic, not just MOBAs. If one person is bad, it can cost the rest of the team a loss, and no one wants to lose when it isn't their fault but someone else's.

OrgeLambart
OrgeLambart

so now if you don't follow the people who think they are the self imposed leader of your group or god forbid have a bad game you get to be negative rated and thusly make it harder for yourself later on.


That's good in theory but bad in execution I'm sure.  Especially when you get all the Chiefs trying to lead everyone when what they are saying is completely stupid.  Lord help anyone who chooses to try a different build... 

Damnation_6
Damnation_6

I'm fed up with LoL mostly because of the toxic community and Riot doesnt give a toss about it. I still play DOTA 2 now and then and the community is a little bit better....a little.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

The learning curve for these games is way too high for the pay off you get at the end of it.

You have to work your ass off just to seem average. And for what? So you can be invisible in another gaming community? A community which as pointed out here is full of people who would sooner slag off your family than say "Hi"?

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

The community in those games is quite rotten in general. Sometimes it makes XBLA and WoW community look like a paradise of politeness.

wexorian
wexorian

There's 2 way to deal with toxic players,  Don't make ingame chat system like hearthstone have, or stop playng mobas etc

wallacom
wallacom

So it's the same as LoL and DOTA 2?

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

kids have yelled at TV screens swearing angrily since gaming began.

Zork_Wesker
Zork_Wesker

Why are people always using the word "Toxic" right now to describe something within the games industry all of a sudden. First it was toxic community forums, now it's toxic players. What the hell does that even mean within the context of what is being talked about?

longflopper
longflopper

It's really hard to stop the toxicity when it's a team game. If someone makes a bad move of course people are going to bash on them. Finding a way to go around that it really tough. I stopped playing league because the toxicity was just to much after a while. 

Pikdum
Pikdum

I hope they do something to deter people from negatively rating that noob on your team who is trying to learn the ropes.


If not, then this system might be a nightmare.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Ah, so S2 Games' solution is to implement a voting system with implications that can affect a player's chance at getting new sh*t.

Really, this system is going to be abused by trolls and bullies.

Poodger
Poodger

They have it wrong. Emotions run high which results in poor attitudes because of game length. People expect a win when they pump 40 minutes of their time into a multiplayer match, and losing feels crappy, and feeling crappy causes people to lash out at other and assign blame.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

I played HoN, briefly.  It has the worst scum playing it of any game I've ever played bar none.  Dota, LoL, CoD, Counterstrike, HoN's playerbase is an order of magnitude more awful.

PinchySkree
PinchySkree

90% revenue obsessed competition, 10% game.

solid_snake1461
solid_snake1461

Only ignorance fools would believe that allowing players to judge each other would solve the problem. Those sadists and trolls (which never run short in online gaming) will just vote down anyone and everyone regardless of their performance in-game. Also, even if the gold is shared between the team, it's almost certain that there will be those with more kills calling others noobs. It's have been the nature of online gaming. And the best way to deal with it? Either you stop playing those game or get use to it. If there is something I would like to have in a moba then it would be the option to mute both text and audio chat of those trolls. Surely it wouldn't solve anything, but at the very least, it's less annoying.

---Cipher---
---Cipher---

This actually makes me glad to hear. I LOVE Dota2 to death, but the reason why I don't play more often is because of the community. My first experience in Dota2 (literally) was a SK tower diving at lvl1 into two full health heros and eating their creep wave at the same time, all while yelling at me for not saving him as I was lich... If you can get rid of that, I will play your moba. Till then, I'll play a game or two of Dota a week then regret playing it.

diggyphelps
diggyphelps

Moba's and Fps games have always been cesspools for the scum of society to meet in and flame each other. Having a vote option won't stop that and will probably just end up getting abused by the rage heads anyways.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

Giving players the power to vote is going to fix things.  Really?  How often does that idea need to tank before devs realize that people are absolute assholes online and thus you can't give them voting power in any way, shape or form?  All that's going to happen is that the loudmouth jackass that constantly insults everyone, hogs everything and carries the team to victory is going to get voted up and the guy that's new to the game or genuinely doesn't know enough for competitive play is going to get down-voted severely.

I am however a fan of shared gold.  I think this promotes the dreaded support role, where you're expected to not take any creep kills at all and then you take all the flak for not being able to do anything because you can't afford any decent items.

Fuck MOBAs anyway.  I'm tired of the one map shit and I'm tired of not being able to see anything because of unnecessarily close camera angles and a UI that favors spawning in the bottom corner because of the way the view is angled and the way the UI is set up.  Enough with these stupid restrictions that don't need to be there.  It's like if every shooter came out with one multiplayer map and that one multiplayer map is dust2.  It gets old.

guardianofhonor
guardianofhonor

MOBA games can have a strong influence on the weak minded.

eyeball2452
eyeball2452

The problem is very straight forward and basic in nature.  LoL is a mess because of matchmaking.  It should be a great pick up and play experience, but because it's a team game, it becomes a miserable experience if 1 in 10 players is doing something stupid during a match.  

I don't want to wast 20 minutes because someone decided to jungle that had never jungled before.  There are AI bots for learning purposes.  Don't waste my time.  It doesn't happen as much in ranked, but non-ranked games can be really terrible is a duo is screwing around.


LoL as a game is great.  It just falls into the same social traps that MMOs do.  If you don't have a group or team of 4 other best friends, the PuG experience will quickly ruin the fun.


I down rank and report people all day in LoL and it never helped.  2 in 3 games a night could be a 20 surrender after a jungler is 5 levels behind his team or someone in lane goes 0/6, 0/10 in the first 20 mins.  Can you come back?  Sure.  Are the odds against someone miraculously learning to play on the fly very long?  Yup.  A "karma" system isn't going to help that.

Hop103
Hop103

Online gaming is toxic, revive the arcades, there was trashtalking in the arcades but there was also respect as well.

Karlinel
Karlinel

I agree the MOBA scene is just hazardous to the mental stability of most people, and hopefully these measures will somehow alleviate that. 

Next step would be the FPS scene!

AdaptorLive
AdaptorLive

@lostn Nowhere did he say that other games can't be toxic. Games like DotA are unique in the way that you play in a small team, getting any good requires a big investment and the matches themselves last a long time. Those are all factors that can make people take the game a little more serious than they maybe should...

Pikdum
Pikdum

@eternaldragoonx It was a mod called DOTA for Warcraft 3 and was great before other developers got hold of it.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@solid_snake1461 You have it right.  HoN is run into the ground by elitist players who'll kick you from every game you join because you didn't meet some arbitrary win loss ratio.  Allow them to vote on anything and they will simply downvote any new players into oblivion.


They're the most insular motherfuckers I've ever seen.

spartanx169x
spartanx169x

@Defender1978 Multiplayer online Battle arena Type game. IF you had read the first sentence of the article you would have sent it.


Compact87
Compact87

@diggyphelps  I dont see too much flame in Fps games, ok maybe some in hardcore matches with friendly fire and stuff. But, MOBA's, thats different story and i agree with you

ggregd
ggregd

@eyeball2452  So it's only fun if you win, then.  Not everybody feels that way.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@Hop103 Is the arcades people had a hold of themselves. Mainly because if they went too far somebody could break their month (which I don't support, but would provably calm down some of those sub-human intelligence people online)

SerOlmy
SerOlmy

@Hop103 You have no idea what you are talking about.  I have been playing multiplayer FPS games for the better part of 15 years.  I have played , HL Deathmatch, Goldeneye, TFC, Tribes, UT, TF2, CSS, and several games on XBL.  I will tell you straight up, no of those holds a candle to the rage, vitriol, and bile spewed by large portions of the population of DOTA2 (I can't comment on LoL, I've never played it).  You literally could not pay me to play these games.  The only MOBA I have ever played that wasn't a complete cesspool was RoI, which has been shut down.

Ayato_Kamina_1
Ayato_Kamina_1

@Hop103 When you're physically next to someone... your trash talking can always be met by a fist to the face. Something online gaming has removed. 

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Poodger

Because irreconciliable despise of MOBAs, that's why.

Really, people like eternaldragoonx are a dime a dozen.

Defender1978
Defender1978

@spartanx169x  I got what the acronym stands for.  Don't play any MOBAs.  Not missing out I reckon.   

Scisor50
Scisor50

@Compact87  I guess you've been a lucky one. Call of Duty, Team Fortress 2, Planetside 2... I have run into morons in all those games. Especially griefers on the latter.

diggyphelps
diggyphelps

@ggregd @eyeball2452  You are missing the point of his post. Also yes, most pvp based games are certainly more fun when you are winning.

heroinadream
heroinadream

@SerOlmy @Hop103LoL has, and by far, the worst community of online gamers. Nobody on this god forsaken game has ever been a noob. They are always bitching about their own teams, the enemies and so on. I play dota2 with some friends of mine, sometime with some strangers and I have some great fun. The assholes are downvoted to oblivion if they trashtalk too much.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

@Defender1978 @spartanx169x The genre doesn't make sense to me in terms of what they call it.  Why can't Quake 3 Arena be considered a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena?  Because it's a shooter?  A shooter is what the action is called... a MOBA is what the action is encased in.  Is Super Smash Brothers a Multiplayer Offline Battle Arena game?  Why not?  Because it's a fighting game?  Players are battling in an arena, so what's the distinction? 

It doesn't describe what you're doing or what kind of game it is.