Accurate in-game reports are the best way to rid Overwatch of toxicity, developer says

Overwatch developer Scott Mercer discussed player behavior on the game's forum.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch developer Blizzard Entertainment is continuing its battle against toxicity.

Bad behavior in Overwatch has been rampant since the game’s release, which isn’t exactly a new problem for online video games. But in a team-based shooter, toxicity has an impact on Overwatch’s quality—meaning that one bad player affects the game, let alone thousands.

Overwatch developer Scott Mercer popped into the Overwatch forum last night to give an update on Blizzard’s fight against bad behavior. He reminded players that Overwatch’s in-game reporting system is the most effective way to get rid of toxicity, as long as it’s used correctly. That’s why Blizzard renamed a few of its categories, including the removal of “Poor Teamwork” and changing “Griefing” to “Gameplay Sabotage.”

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“Accurate in-game reports of bad behavior are the best way for you to help us improve community behavior, and we want to make sure that process is easy and clear for everyone,” Mercer wrote. “We also monitor our Overwatch social accounts for reports of players behaving badly, and we follow up on these reports with investigations and appropriate penalties.”

Mercer said that more Overwatch players should start receiving the reporting “thank you” messages for reporting a player that was later actioned. Blizzard is also working on “machine learning systems” to identify abusive chat and gameplay before its been reported.

The company also recently added a feature that tells players when they’ve been reported, which is intended to help others realize that they’re not acting acceptably in Overwatch.

The last change outlined by Mercer is about how Blizzard penalizes repeat offenders for abusive chat, he wrote. Not only are players silenced for being abusive in-game, but now they can be suspended for increased duration.

New social features will also be made available over the summer, Mercer said. They’ll hit the test server closer to launch. “They should give players even more ways to control their gameplay experience online,” he added.