Overwatch trolls face tougher penalties

Technology 31 Jul 2017
Overwatch trolls face tougher penalties

Overwatch trolls face tougher penalties By Chris Foxx Technology reporter

Image copyright Activision Blizzard
Image caption Overwatch is an online multiplayer game in which skilled heroes work as a team

Overwatch players will face harsher penalties if they abuse or harass others, developer Blizzard has announced.

The company said "verified reports" of "bad behaviour" would lead to players being silenced, temporarily suspended or banned from the game completely.

Abusing other gamers over voice-chat or deliberately wasting time in games were examples of bad behaviour, it said.

One reviewer said it would make the game more "welcoming" as an e-sport.

"The gaming community has improved, but there are still some toxic elements," said Ellen Rose, co-editor of the gaming channel OutsideXtra.

"It's too easy online to do, and say, what you want and not get any consequences for it.

"Cracking down on that so it's a more fun experience for everyone – especially for newer players – is really good."

Image copyright Activision blizzard
Image caption Each Overwatch hero has a unique ability

Blizzard highlighted several behaviours that would be affected by the tighter rules, including in-game spam messages.

"In Overwatch, you can make your character say hello, and people press it a million times – it's extremely annoying," Ms Rose told the BBC.

"There's also match inactivity. Sometimes you are in a game and you turn around and there's someone who is just standing there and not playing.

"That's called AFK – away from keyboard. This person goes away for a cup of tea, and it lets the team down."

Griefing

The company said it would also issue tougher penalties for people who deliberately tried to spoil the game for others, known as griefing.

"You also get people who go into matches just to annoy other people because they think it's funny," said Ms Rose.

"One character, Mei, has an ice wall she can bring up, and some people set up ice walls to trap other players on their own team – or stop them getting a line of sight to shoot.

"Stamping out that sort of behaviour is a good thing."

Blizzard is pitching Overwatch as an e-sports title and in July announced the first seven team owners for a forthcoming league.

Image copyright Abstract purity
Image caption Overwatch's diverse set of heroes appeal to a wide audience

The company believes the tournament could eventually prove more lucrative than the UK's Premier League – football's highest-earning competition.

"I went to an event and watched Overwatch played as an e-sport, and you really get into it," said Ms Rose.

"It's less gruesome and violent than other shooters – so it's slightly more accessible. It's [age] rated 12 – and not many other shooters are a 12.

"It's sensible of them to make sure it's a welcoming place, so it gets more people into the game, and more people trying out e-sports."

Presently, players can report bad behaviour only when playing on a PC.

Blizzard admitted it was "frustrating" that the feature was missing for console players and said it was "committed to bringing a reporting system to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One".

"With PC it's easier – with a keyboard, it's quicker to write a report," Ms Rose told the BBC.

"But it would be good to bring reporting across to consoles. It's important to make sure everyone on all platforms feels safe."

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