Overwatch undoubtedly has a lot going for it with fun characters, decent balance, a variety of game modes, and an engaged community. However, Overwatch has its share of bad qualities, and part of that is toxic players who can quickly turn a fun game into a headache by abusing chat, not contributing, going AFK, or even abandoning competitive matches altogether.
Blizzard has set out to improve its penalty system, and Game Director Jeff Kaplan has also mentioned that the system knows when someone abandons an Overwatch match using the Leave Game button. The key changes to Overwatch’s penalty system as stated by a community manager are “increased penalties to players in response to verified reports of bad behavior.”
That bad behavior includes “abusive chat, harassment, in-game spam, match inactivity (being intentionally AFK), and griefing.” Going forward, Blizzard will silence, suspend, or ban players reported for these behaviors. Down the road, competitive season bans will also be changed, and knowing when a player hits the Leave Game button will make it easy for Blizzard to verify players abandoning matches.
These changes to Overwatch should offer a great improvement to the gaming community. For players, knowing the reporting system works will help convince them to actually use it. Once toxic players start feeling the repercussions of their behavior, it’s likely there will be a decrease in that behavior, either because those players stop, or because those players are gone. Leavers in the game have been a big problem recently, and the new penalties and ability to detect players abandoning with the Leave Game button can likely resolve that issue.
This is great news for Overwatch players who want the game to stay fun, friendly, and competitive. Overall, it should result in less toxic behavior, and fewer competitive matches where teams end up losing players.
There will surely be some concerns remaining that the system could unwittingly punish players who haven’t done anything wrong. Many players get accused of throwing by their team if they choose a character that the team doesn’t want or that is off meta. If those players are reported, the concern is that they will be punished, even though there’s nothing wrong with picking the hero they want to play. Hopefully Blizzard will be able to address these concerns before every person playing Doomfist gets reported by other players who wanted to play the new character.
Overwatch is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.