Overwatch Director Talks Smurfing, Says It's Not Really A Big Issue

Smurfing "isn't really that big of an issue," Jeff Kaplan says.

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Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan has responded to concerns about "smurfing," which is when a high-level player creates a secondary account for the purpose of steamrolling new players.

In a forum thread titled "Smurfing is cheating. Stop downplaying it," Kaplan shared what he thought would be an unpopular opinion. "Smurfing--and I know this isn't what you want to hear--isn't really that big of an issue," he said (via PC Gamer).

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To back up his point, Kaplan said a professional Overwatch player created a "smurf" account a few weeks ago and used that second account for livesteams. Blizzard watched this player's internal matchmaking rating (MMR) and compared it against his "main" account. What Blizzard found was that this player needed just 15 matches to reach the MMR for their main account.

"I know there is a very bad perception of Smurfing. But the reality is, skilled players are moved rapidly out of lower skill situations," Kaplan said.

The director went on to say that not every instance of perceived smurfing is in fact genuine.

"I've also personally witnessed a few cases of players assuming someone is smurfing when they are not," Kaplan said. "One of the people I play with is highly skilled. He played a ton in the beta. He works on the Heroes of the Storm team and plays Heroes most nights. But occasionally he comes and plays Overwatch with us because he really enjoys the game. As a result, he is way lower level than we are. Most of us are 3-5 stars... and he is about level 30. Every time we group with him, someone accuses him of being a smurf. But he's not."

Kaplan's forum post also covers "boosting," which is when, in Competitive Play, one highly skilled player tries to "carry" their lower-skilled partner player to help them hit a higher skill rank. This is a real issue, and Blizzard is looking into ways to address it, Kaplan said.

"Boosting is bad and we are very actively working on preventing and punishing this behavior," he explained. "Rules like the 500 SR differential in Comp above Diamond exist because of Boosting. There is nothing about Boosting that is acceptable and we want you to know that we are taking great efforts to minimize the impact on 'fair' players."

Finally, Kaplan assured Overwatch players that Blizzard is constantly looking for "deviant behavior," and stressed that the studio will take action in situations that call for it.

In other news about Overwatch, the game's latest event, Uprising, is currently underway. You can see all of the legendary and epic skins here in this roundup.

For more on Overwatch, you can check out our own interview with Kaplan below.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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