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Overwatch development hampered by toxic players, says director

September 14, 2017 | By Chris Kerr

A few weeks ago, Blizzard said it would be toughening up to combat the rising levels of toxicity and misconduct in the Overwatch community. 

At the time, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan explained the developer planned to dish out harsher punishments and shore up the game's much criticized reporting system.

Player toxicity in Overwatch has also made the studio re-prioritize development of a more robust reporting system to such an extent other areas of development are hampered, according to Kaplan in a new video update.

As the reporting system stands, Kaplan said Blizzard has taken disciplinary action against over 480,000 accounts to-date. According to the game director, 340,000 of those accounts were identified as a direct result of players using the reporting system. But despite those efforts, he doesn't want people to think the battle is already won. 

"There's not going to be a moment where we have a magic patch in Overwatch that makes bad behavior go away, but it's a continual process that we are very dedicated to fixing and improving," he said.

"You're going to see some things that are very visible, like actual changes to the game, then there'll be other things going on behind the scenes, which might not be as evident to you. 

"For example, we're constantly tuning and adjusting our punishment thresholds and punishment gravity, meaning how harsh are those punishments and what exactly happens to players. Our highest level philosophy is if you're a bad person doing bad things in Overwatch, we don't want you in Overwatch."

Kaplan stressed the company's ultimate aim is to create a game space that's as inclusive as possible, but also implored the community to take a "deep look inwards" and think about how they engage and interact with one another. 

"There's a way to spread positivity that I don't think is really prevalent right now. Sure, we can build game systems to encourage that more, and we will, but we need the community to own up to their part, and the accountability that they, for really creating a great game space."

Right now, he says the Overwatch team have been put into a position where they're spending a "tremendous" amount of time and resources punishing people. 

"I wish we could take the time that we put into putting reporting on console, and put that towards a match history system or replay system instead. It was the same people who work on both, and who got rerouted to work on the other," he continued.

"The bad behavior isn't just ruining the experience, it's actually making the game progress -- in terms of development -- at a much slower rate." 

"I'm not trying to lay a major guilt trip on everyone here […] but I do think we need to take a step back and realize we're all here to have fun, we want Overwatch to be a really great place, and each of us can play a really important part in that."

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