Overwatch, while a highly popular title, has received its fair share of criticisms over the years.
With over 120 post-launch patches, Blizzard can be said to be on the top of the situation, however in some cases the issues aren’t simple bugs that can be addressed in a single patch. One system that has been consistently revamped and criticized is the punishment and reporting system.
Overwatch has been many iterations and different approaches to this issue. Currently, leaving matches is punished automatically and the system is harsher in Competitive Play. Many other kinds of offenses are handled by a separate system, which is based on player reporting.
In the game, players can report others who are both on their team and who are opponents for a specific list of offenses: spam, abusive chat, cheating, griefing, inactivity, bad Battletag and poor teamwork. However, currently it seems that all offenses save for cheating are met with mere silences or not even that, with cheating being the only bannable offense.
For a while, both poor-teamwork and griefing reports were countered with chat silencing, which naturally didn’t solve the problem. Griefers (purposefully selecting heroes not beneficial to the team, killing themselves repeatedly, feeding, throwing) don’t need to use chat to ruin a game, and chat related abuses fall under a different reportable offense anyway.
Some time ago, this was removed and being repeatedly reported for griefing no longer nets you a silence, but doesn’t bring a ban with it either. The same applies to “throwers”, or players who purposefully play in a way that benefits the enemy team. On the other hand, the report system needs some revision as well.
Sometimes players will use it as a petty form of revenge. Sore losers will report players who defeated them, players will report you for picking certain heroes (which, granted, in some situations is justified) or for any number of trivial reasons. An experiment on Reddit proved that the silencing punishments for abusive chat are handed out automatically, so if enough people report you falsely, you could theoretically be banned under a new system dealing such punishments.
Jeff Kaplan responded to a thread about the issue on the 13th of July, stating that changes to the punishment system are on their way. What these changes will be or how they will tackle the issue is anyone’s guess, and we’re still waiting on that particular post.