Every online video game has toxicity in its community to some extent, and Blizzard’s Overwatch is certainly no exception. Since the game’s launch, Blizzard has tried to figure out ways to curb online toxicity, and its latest idea is currently being tested in the Xbox One version of Overwatch. As of the latest patch, Xbox One Overwatch players with an Xbox Live reputation of “Avoid Me” can no longer communicate with their teammates in game chat.
This is a creative approach to handling trolls, but it remains to be seen if it will have an overall positive impact on the Overwatch community or not. After all, these muted Xbox Live players can still talk to others through party chat, and they can be toxic in other ways that don’t involve slinging insults or harshly criticizing their teammates.
For example, toxic Overwatch players can ruin the game by simply giving up when playing in the ranked Competitive Play mode and throwing the game for their team. For example, they can purposefully waste their Ultimate abilities or constantly run off on their own to be killed by the enemy team.
Furthermore, it’s worth pointing out that the Xbox Live reputation system is somewhat flawed, especially when it comes to people that are in higher levels of play in ranked online games. People that are constantly playing with high level teams may be subjected to more criticism if they have an off game, and may be hit by a negative review from disgruntled teammates, damaging their Xbox Live reputation in the process. Someone could theoretically have an “Avoid Me” reputation for no good reason, and being cut off from communicating with their teammates could end up costing them big games.
Of course, as with all things Overwatch, this latest attempt to tackle the game’s toxic players will likely change as Blizzard continues to experiment with better ways to handle things. The company has tested a number of punishment systems since the game’s launch to see what works best for the community, and it’s clear that it is still trying to figure it out.
In the meantime, it’s unclear if this new punishment system will extend to Overwatch on other platforms or not. If it is well-received by Overwatch players on Xbox One, it seems likely that Blizzard will also bring a similar punishment system to PC and PS4 at some point in the future.
Overwatch is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.