Blizzard Entertainment has been doubling down on reducing toxicity in Overwatch these past few months since the game had garnered quite a reputation for having a less than amicable community. Their most recent crackdown has materialized in the form of a major banwave directed at Chinese accounts of ill repute.
A bluepost on the official Chinese Overwatch forums indicated that a huge number of accounts were banned simultaneously. While the banning offenses varied, they were all for behavioral issues including griefing and trolling. The post then continued to publish the account names of all those banned. This sort of punishment for trolling is in line with how Blizzard tightened the rules recently regarding in-game etiquette, meaning it’s a lot easier to invoke the banhammer.
Competitive play saw the strictest rules regarding behavior, and it isn’t hard to get yourself excluded from ranked matches anymore. On top of that, incurring three competitive bans could mean an instant upgrade to a permanent ban, if the infractions were severe enough during the competitive seasons. That said, trolling and griefing in quick play can also be followed up with various punishments as Blizzard becomes less and less tolerant towards unfair behavior in their primarily teamwork based game.
The developers have come under fire a few times in the past regarding their perceived inaction regarding toxicity, including how the player reporting system is still a work in progress in spite of the game being more than a year old. Players have the ability to send reports about others they meet who behave inappropriately, but so far there isn’t ever any feedback regarding whether any action was taken against those reported.
Game director Jeff Kaplan has spoken recently about taking the toxicity issue seriously and revealed that almost half a million accounts have been punished in total, with this number only expected to grow as more systems fall into place designed to root out trolls. Trolling in Overwatch comes in many forms, ranging from the usage of offensive terminology in chat to various griefing methods such as throwing matches, feeding the enemy or AFKing on purpose.
Going forward, further efforts can be expected to detox the Overwatch community, with the full functionality of the report function being at the top of the development team’s priority list.