Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan says that the team is making strides on better policing toxic and harmful in-game behavior, partially by being proactive outside the game itself.
Speaking during one of Blizzard’s regular Developer Update videos, Kaplan explained that the team has taken to combing through YouTube and other social media websites for bad actors and take action against those accounts before an in-game report has been filed.
While Blizzard notably has a significant amount of resources at its disposal, the Overwatch team’s methods for hunting down and punishing harmful in-game behavior can provide other developers with an idea of what methods are effective for managing toxicity in their own multiplayer games.
Kaplan notes that the Overwatch team prefers to stay tight-lipped on its exact anti-toxicity programs to giving those bad actors a chance to dodge detection or game the system, but says that keeping an eye on social media sites has proved to have a positive impact so far.
Additionally, Kaplan says that other in-game strategies have paid off and resulted in an overall reduction of toxic behavior and abusive chat. Console versions of Overwatch recently received a player reporting system, something Kaplan says has shown positive results. Blizzard also added a system that warns players ahead of suspension to inform them that their behavior isn’t going unnoticed.
Another system provides the reporting parties with feedback on the reports they’ve filed to let them know if their reports against other players resulted in action from Blizzard.
Kaplan says that, since these features were implemented, incidents of abusive chat have fallen by 17 percent. Meanwhile, the amount of times players report bad behavior has jumped by 20 percent, something Kaplan says indicates that the changes are starting to restore faith in Overwatch’s reporting system.