Overwatch players who use custom games to farm XP will be punished, says Blizzard. Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan has addressed recent concerns that some people are abusing the new game mode ability to level up quicker, saying that "Abusing and exploiting custom game or any other game mode to earn experience in Overwatch while inactive is NOT ok."
In a post on the game's official forums, Kaplan says that developer Blizzard is going to take "disciplinary action against people who partake in these activities," meaning that the days of improperly using Overwatch custom game modes to get ahead could soon be over. The game director specifically says that, "if you create a custom game that in any way encourages players to gain experience," and that joining any game mode (including custom games) "with the intent of gaining experience while being inactive" could result in an account ban.
In fact, Kaplan even warned against naming a custom game to suggest that it will allow players to farm XP, saying that this too could result in a ban. Blizzard hasn't been shy about waving the banhammer against cheaters in the past, with banned Overwatch players being named and shamed, so players getting up to no good probably shouldn't take Kaplan's words lightly.
Blizzard is taken the issue so seriously that it has rolled out methods to combat this behavior already, since the discussion about farming grew yesterday. Skirmish in custom games no longer rewards players with XP, and an AFK timer (away from keyboard timer) has been added to custom game modes. The developer hopes that this, along with pleas for Overwatch players to report those who are misbehaving, will do the trick.
And while some Overwatch players may fear that they will be singled out for their own attempts to have fun and that their accounts may be banned accidentally, for Blizzard this is still worth the risk. Overwatch loot boxes are big business and so it was never going to take XP abuse - which lets people level up and earn loot boxes quicker - lightly.
The business model for the game depends on players staying engaged and playing Overwatch properly to get those loot boxes (or just paying for them outright) so fans should expect the developer to take even more extreme measures if this set of countermeasures doesn't work.
Overwatch is now available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.