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Jeff Kaplan lays out goals for improving Overwatch’s punishment system

Jeff Kaplan mentioned goals for Overwatch's punishment system
Jeff Kaplan mentioned goals for Overwatch's punishment system. Photo courtesy of Blizzard.

Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan laid out goals improving the reporting system in Overwatch, which include increasing the severity of punishment for repeat offenders and email notifications to let users know Blizzard acted upon their reports.

Following the way Kaplan publicly exposed a player who was banned for a week after being reported more than 2,000 times, another player took issue with 2,000 reports equating to merely a week ban. When the player then wrote on the game’s forums about the problem, Kaplan responded to say he understands the frustration.

“In the short term we are re-evaluating every punishment and are in the process of converting silences over to suspensions,” he wrote. “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). Also in the short term, we’ve been testing an email notification system to let you know when someone you’ve reported has been actioned. We cannot provide a lot of detail in these emails but they only go out if an action has taken place (meaning your report contributed to someone getting suspended).”

Kaplan continued that repeated offenders in Overwatch’s competitive game mode will be banned from playing competitive outright, while also promising a higher commitment to punishing players who engage in boosting, throwing, or “any sort of SR manipulation” in the future. Other goals also include a new series of punishments that escalate quickly, making repeat offenders “strike out” in a more rapid and reliable manner.

For the long term, Kaplan said the Overwatch team is looking for ways to promote positive behavior rather than just punishing negative ones. He also lamented that because of the attitudes of a number players, the team has to spend time and effort in curbing such players instead of doing what they love doing as a development team.

“It really bums us out to spend so much time punishing people for being bad sports,” he wrote. “We like making cool, fun game systems — that’s what we do for a living. 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 behavior 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.

“We’re working hard to make changes. I hope you all do too.”

The updated reporting system was implemented last month after players have complained about Overwatch’s previous toothless system. The reporting system for console versions of the game on Xbox One and Playstation 4 is also finally happening.

Cover photo courtesy of Blizzard

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