"We’re starting to action less toward silences and more toward suspensions. If somebody’s doing bad behavior, just silencing them can sometimes convince them to do things like throw matches and grief in other ways. If you keep exemplifying bad behavior, we’re gonna have you leave the game [permanently]."
- Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan, speaking to Kotaku about how the company is ratcheting up its fight against toxic players.
It's been well over a year since Blizzard launched its multiplayer shooter Overwatch, but in the wake of the game's remarkable success the dev team seems to have been blindsided by the toxic elements that come with a large playerbase.
Over the past six months the team has pledged to toughen up, retool Overwatch's in-game reporting system, and begin dishing out permanent bans to repeat offenders.
Devs who have watched this transition with interest should check out a recent interview Kotaku had with Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan, in which he explains that Blizzard now has a dedicated "strike team" focused on combating toxicity in the game.
"We’re not sitting here with our heads in the sand," he said, noting that the strike team is formulating a series of strategies to address the problem, spanning everything from improved chat-scanning algorithms to a heavier-handed approach to toxic players.
"We’re starting to action less toward silences and more toward suspensions,” he added. “If somebody’s doing bad behavior, just silencing them can sometimes convince them to do things like throw matches and grief in other ways. If you keep exemplifying bad behavior, we’re gonna have you leave the game [permanently]."
When pressed by Kotaku on how the game got to this state in the first place, Kaplan opened up a bit about how certain decisions -- like, say, not requiring console Overwatch players to register a Battle.net account -- made sense during development but proved troublesome once the game got big.
“It’s kind of like ‘The road to hell is paved with best intentions,’" he admitted. However, he now says that devs on the team are "fired up" and that "there's a lot of passion on the team to tackle [toxicity] right now."
For more of his comments and a bit more detail on how the new Overwatch "strike team" works, check out the full Kotaku article.