Overwatch Player-Reporting System Changes And Improvements Detailed

Blizzard is planning some big changes.

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Not everyone is happy with Overwatch's reporting and punishment systems for bad behaviour, and now Blizzard has responded. Game director Jeff Kaplan commented in forum post titled "Report system is a failure" that he agrees that there is room for improvement. He added that beefing up the reporting and punishment system in Overwatch is one of Blizzard's "prime focuses" currently.

A developer update video on the topic was recorded last week and it will go out "very soon," Kaplan said. But in the meantime, he outlined some of his points in the forum post. Blizzard has short, medium, and long-term plans for improving the system, and Kaplan admitted that the developer has not done a great job at keeping fans in the loop.

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The first phase of the steps Blizzard is taking is to suspending more accounts and increasing their length.

"In the short term we are re-evaluating every punishment and are in the process of converting silences over to suspensions. We're also increasing the length of suspensions. Pretty soon, we hope for silences to go away all together and only have suspensions and bans for punishments (with a few exceptions like forced BattleTag changes for naming violations)," Kaplan said.

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Another short-term goal is to introduce an email notification system that informs you when someone you've reported has action taken against them. Kaplan also mentioned that Blizzard recently banned "a number of accounts" from Competitive Season 5 due to boosting. These players will loss all of their Season 5 rewards for their behaviour.

As for medium-term goals, Kaplan said repeat Competitive offenders are going to be "completely" banned. "If you've been banned for more than X seasons, we will ban you from ever playing competitive again," he said.

For Overwatch Competitive Season 6, Blizzard will get "way more aggressive" when it comes to action being taken against people using boosting/throwing to get an advantage.

"We have some very smart people who are getting very good at detecting this behaviour and we are actively building systems (and punishments) around SR abuse," Kaplan explained. "Also in the medium term, we have a new series of punishments we're going to try that escalates much more quickly ... Basically, extreme offenders will 'strike out' of the game much quicker. As part of these increasing punishments, we're looking to make it so that offenders get blocked from Competitive play much sooner--more details on this as we get closer."

Finally, Blizzard's long-term goals for Overwatch as it relates to the game's reporting system is to actively encourage and reward good behaviour.

"It really bums us out to spend so much time punishing people for being bad sports. We like making cool, fun game systems--that's what we do for a living," Kaplan said. "But because people seem to lack self-control or because people like to abuse anonymity and free speech we're put in a position of spending a tremendous amount of our time and resources policing the community. We will do this as it is our responsibility but we'd like to spend more time rewarding good players rather than having to focus on poor sportsmanship and unacceptable bad behaviour so much. Like it or not, this is an 'us, the OW community problem' and not just an 'OW team problem.' For better or for worse, we're in this together."

Kaplan ended his candid and frank post by pledging that Blizzard is "working hard" on these changes, capping off his comments with a poignant stinger--"I hope you all do too."

In other Overwatch news, the game added Deathmatch modes today as part of a bigger update--you can get all the details and check out the patch notes here.

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