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The battle against toxicity and bad in-game behavior is seeming without end for Blizzard.
In just the past few weeks, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan has addressed concerns with toxic behavior twice, first saying that the company is increasing penalties levied on misbehaving players and later explaining that all the focus on toxic in-game behavior has hampered other areas of development.
Toxicity can easily become a problem in the player-bases for competitive multiplayer games, but it's not something game developers can safely ignore if they want their communities to thrive.
In the game’s latest patch, Blizzard is turning to a new tool to try and punish serial offenders on Xbox One. By piggybacking off of Xbox Live’s reputation system, Overwatch now bars players with an ‘Avoid Me’ ranking from participating in voice chat.
But beyond turning off the microphone for players in bad standing, the ‘Avoid Me’ label won’t punish players on a deeper level or keep them from matchmaking with upstanding players. So while the change may do well to cut down on mid-match trash talk and harassment, don’t expect the latest patch to fix problems with unscrupulous in-game behavior.
Just last week, Kaplan said Blizzard had taken disciplinary action against over 480,000 accounts since Overwatch launched. The vast majority of those cases were a result of the in-game report feature, but it is worth noting that neither PlayStation 4 nor Xbox One players could report bad behavior up until a few weeks ago.
"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,” said Kaplan in a Developer Update video last week. "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."