Overwatch increasing punishments for naughtiness

Asses, blaggards, bleeders, blighters, bounders, brutes, cads, cheats, fannies, jackasses, jagoffs, jeb ends, knaves, loudmouths, ne’er-do-wells, nobheads, nuisances, prats, pricks, rascals, radges, rats, reprobates, rogues, rotters, and scoundrels beware: Blizzard are increasing punishments in Overwatch [official site].

“Play nice; play fair” is one of their main rules, they say, and flipping flipfaces are spoiling things. So from now on, they’re increasing penalties for bad behaviour, and they’re planning to expand their disciplinary systems. One such planned change is issuing notifications for when people you’ve reported get punished. Internet justice!

Blizzard community manager Stephanie ‘Lylirra’ Johnson said in yesterday’s post:

“We believe that our in-game reporting and player penalty system is one of our most important features, and it’s something we want to invest in significantly over the next year. To this end, effective immediately, we will be issuing increased penalties to players in response to verified reports of bad behavior. In Overwatch, that means anything from abusive chat, harassment, in-game spam, match inactivity (being intentionally AFK), and griefing. If you see someone engaging in any of these types of behaviors, report them. Players in violation will be silenced, suspended, or even banned from the game as a result.”

That’s already started, and more’s to come.

“We know that making Overwatch a truly welcoming environment is an ongoing process, and this is only the first step. Over the next several months, we have plans to make additional improvements based on your feedback, including scaling competitive season bans, a notification system that will alert you when a player you’ve reported is actioned, and functionality that will allow us to more aggressively penalize players who attempt to abuse the in-game reporting tool.”

Don’t be jerks, gang.


  1. caerphoto says:

    Complaint bingo:
    [ ] This system won’t work, what if I do something bad once, will I get banned?
    [ ] This system won’t work, what if people abuse it?
    [ ] I can’t believe Blizzard is catering to snowflakes.
    [ ] Just mute the toxic people.
    [ ] Toxicity is inherent to PvP games, deal with it.

    • Amstrad says:

      Well, you’ve got the B column covered. Now just another 20 possible and predictable responses to this article and you’ll have a full grid!

    • LearningToSmile says:

      There are currently rumors the system is automated and automatically bans people with enough reports.

      And before you say they probably deserve it – Overwatch players have a pretty intense dislike of people with preference for playing a single character, so if the rumors are true you might find yourself banned because you played the hero you like and enough of your teammates didn’t appreciate that.

      (oh, and by the way – this change isn’t really about toxicity because that’s one thing that blizzard did punish people for already, it’s more about people throwing and griefing which pretty much went unpunished outside of select high profile cases)

      • HothMonster says:

        Well they claim they verify the reports. I would hope certainly hope that is true or the system is ripe for abuse. They do also mention penalizing players who abuse the reporting tool so voting against every Hanzo, or whoever you hate, without cause certainly seems like a good way to get yourself in trouble.

        While they were already punishing toxicity it seems from that statement that they are increasing the severity and frequency of those punishments, is that not the case?

        • Horg says:

          Easy to say they moderate reports, but with the volume of games being played every day I don’t believe it for a second. Take griefing, for example. Verifying a report of game play abuse would require a moderator to sit through the match replay and follow the alleged culprit around, which could take a few minutes per match. Voice chat logs are another time sink to moderate as they don’t have a text log. They would need a small army of paid moderators, in every language region, to pull it off. Realistically, it’s going to be automated, which means it will be abusable (especially by pre-made groups who can focus reports).

          • Zorgulon says:

            I would think a critical number of complaints would have to be amassed over multiple games for the banhammer to begin its dreadful swing. Given the random nature of matchmaking it would be very hard to orchestrate a griefing campaign of false-reporting a particular player unless they were in your group.

            Not saying it won’t be impossible to play somehow, but I imagine this will have occurred to them.

        • LagTheKiller says:

          I HOPE they will warn single character users (only in rankeds however). Game has a built in counter mechanisms and encourages swapping char mid round. Also focuses heavy on teamwork. If other 5 players assembled in some way and ask u to change role u totally should. Im quite new to the game (100lvl) and silver to platinum in no more than 3to5 games u will be able to use ur speshul snowflake. Unless ur hanzo main. As a champion without means to pierce shields u are usually useless in destroyin deathballs. Unless ur god and snipe evryone that isnt in ball then ult the ball but even then with autist nijas flyin everywhere, pharah raining nukes, air is made of bouncing explosives from behind the shield and u are in certain somone sights (!!!!@^#$&*/*@). U should consider other champion that akctually works well with team. ALL THIS APPLIES TO RANKEDS. ON QM GO PLAY WHATEVEVER PLEASES U. NONE GIVES A DAMN.

        • Maxheadroom says:

          I saw a youtube video recently (cant find it now) where the guy had a recording between themselves and a Blizzard rep who confirmed that its at least partly automated, and if you get 100 strikes against you, your account is banned permanently with no avenue for appeal.

          If true (and now ive actually typed it out it seems pretty far fetched) that’s a pretty broken system.

          Still, its a step in the right direction. I particularly like the feedback you get if action is taken against someone you report. Too many times (not Overwatch, but 30+ years of playing games) ive ben forced to report some toxic, abusive asshat only to feel like I was wasting my time

      • caerphoto says:

        There are currently rumors the system is automated and automatically bans people with enough reports.

        The impression I get is that those rumours are based on a single example with dubious merit, and that the system for dealing with appeals is having some teething troubles.

        It’s probably too early to tell how well/poorly the system is working at the moment.

    • aircool says:

      “Toxicity is inherent to PvP games, deal with it.”

      No it isn’t, that’s just people being arseholes. Arseholes are toxic, not games. As for ‘dealing with it’, it would appear Blizzard are ‘dealing with it’.

  2. Sin Vega says:

    Good. Kill them all. Even the kids. Especially the kids.

  3. Premium User Badge

    CrackedMandible says:

    I like the term: Jackhole

    Not overtly obscene and still conveys the message that a person has exhibited bad behavior (Aka: jackholery).

  4. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I haven’t seen all that much toxicity in chatter in Overwatch. But I haven’t played in months.

    That said, I hope they use a relatively light touch. Banning people for saying things like “Wow, this sucks” when they’re losing might be an issue.

    I prefer caution over coddling, I guess.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      I’ve noticed a considerable increase lately. Not so much of serious stuff (racism, sexism, etc) but of people just severely aggroing others outside of the competitive mode. It’s unjustifiable, but I kinda understand when people get mad in competitive mode, since there’s a rank at stake and some tend to give it a lot of importance. However, when there’s nothing at stake, and people start getting abusive, it’s baffling. Anyway, hopefully people will now think before typing all their rage in chat for losing some silly arcade match.

      • caerphoto says:

        However, when there’s nothing at stake, and people start getting abusive, it’s baffling.

        I think the problem is those people just cannot handle losing. It’s like winning is the only thing that matters to them, fun is merely a nice bonus.

    • Excors says:

      I haven’t seen much abusive voice chat or text chat either, and you can easily mute people. The bigger problem is people intentionally losing in competitive mode. (Usually they’ll AFK in the spawn room, or jump off cliffs repeatedly, or literally tell you that they’re throwing, so it’s pretty obvious). That still doesn’t happen very often in my experience (probably depends on region and time of day and rank) but it’s really annoying when it does, because it wastes ten minutes of your life and you lose imaginary skill points and you stop having fun.

      Sometimes they do it to get a lower rank so they can group up with their low-ranked friends. Sometimes they want a low rank so they can stream themselves destroying the terrible players down there. Sometimes they do it because their team lost the first two rounds in a best-of-five and they think there’s no hope. Sometimes they do it to punish another player for picking Hanzo (even if they’re a pretty good Hanzo) or about half of the other heroes. Sometimes they claim they do it to show Blizzard there’s a problem (like breaking into your house and killing your hamster then saying “I only did it to teach Yale that their locks aren’t very good, you should blame them not me”). Sometimes they do it because someone did it to them in their previous match. Sometimes they do it for no reason at all. And they do it because they know Blizzard never penalises anyone for that kind of behaviour, no matter how egregious.

      Competitive mode is meant to be taken seriously – when everyone is a similar skill level and is trying hard to work together as a team and to win, the outcome of the match is often very close and depends on your own individual performance, and that’s what makes it fun and compelling. If it becomes a lottery of which team has the fewest players trying to lose, you might as well go to quickplay (where there’s no team coordination and nobody really cares if you mess around) or a different game.

      Since Blizzard is trying to make Overwatch into a multi-hundred-million-dollar esport, they really need to maintain a healthy competitive scene and maintain the community’s trust in it. Hopefully these penalty changes will help with that.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      Im a fairly casual player and only experienced 2 instances of toxic behaviour, 1 threatening to throw unless I got off the character they wanted to play, and another telling me i sucked and should uninstall etc (surprisingly I had other players come to my defence on that one, telling the troll to shut the fuck up and leave me alone)

      if you look on youtube for Overwatch & Toxic you’ll find much more vile examples of toxic behaviour, and interestingly they’re all American. Dunno what that says about anything…

  5. ColonelFlanders says:

    You forgot bellend

  6. aircool says:

    Knowing that someone who you have reported has been punished will make you feel like something is actually being done.

    Cheaters really piss me off and will turn me away from a game.

    Being rude is also not needed. I turn off chat in most games, but that means I miss the fun stuff as well.

    Have they put in a decent colourblind mode yet?

  7. Don Reba says:

    If you take asses out of Overwatch, what are you even left with?

    • BooleanBob says:

      Slashfic. Oh. Wait.

    • Faxanadu says:

      Ohhh, Overwatch was the famous no-“sexy”-butt-poses game.

      So peeps who remove butt poses because of angry moms, decide to start moderating even harder. It’s a win win. Either we get another butt-gate or the system actually works. Good times either way.

  8. Mezmorki says:

    My friends and I are taking a leave of absence from overwatch for a while until the whole environment improves (or the game implodes).

    Basically it boils down to this:

    1/4 of my time playing OW is spent waiting for match matching or in pre- or post-match screens.

    1/4 of my time is spent playing matches where for whatever reason (bad team comp, people playing badly, me playing badly, etc) our team gets shamelessly rolled and the match is over the second it starts. Sometimes it’s the other way around and we roll the other team. Either way it’s not a satisfying experience.

    1/4 of the time is spent in a match where someone is dropping out, rage quiting, griefing, going AFK or whatever. Doesn’t really matter which team it happens on, it sucks either way for all involved. Although it does hurt more when it happens to your team and you take an SR hit.

    1/4 of the time, finally, there is a decent match. Win or lose, it’s a tough hard fought battle for both sides and there is a degree of satisfaction in the conclusion. This is the only 1/4 that is remotely close to “fun.”

    If I play for two hours in an evening, about 90 minutes is spent wrapped up in BS that isn’t fun anyway you look at it. For me and my friends, with families and jobs and all that, it’s no longer worth playing the game when there is a good chance that 75% of the time spent playing is unpleasant. Pretty bad ROI for time spent playing this game.

    Which is all too bad – because when the game is at it’s best it is a lot of fun. But too often it’s a slog. And I haven’t even talked about the grinding hell that is trying to rank up.

    And blizzard seems to be doing their hardest to turn what was an organically evolving competitive pro scene into a sham at the same time.

    Fun times!

    • Faxanadu says:

      Everything you said, is something I’ve experienced in Natural-Selection 2. Another, even more heavily team-reliant FPS.

      I’m pretty sure it’s just how things are. It’s really hard to get a balanced game. Because STUFF happens. And there’s no system perfect enough to match humans against each other.

      But the alternative is to play Counter-Strike or Quake and take satisfaction from frags alone. Which is nice. For the first decade. Then you kinda want something more.

    • skyst says:

      This is actually a pretty spot on analysis. I have had a lot of fun with Overwatch, but way too many matches are just a steamroll one way or the other and the process gets quite tedious.

      Those few, rare, well-matched games are fantastic, though.

      • Slazia says:

        CS: GO is like this. You end up on an awful tea of players who won’t communicate, won’t try to work together, and will go off sneaking around trying to get a kill rather than working on the objective. What’s worse, you cannot vote to end the match until a player quits. The play who quits also get a 90 minute ban from the game. If they quit too often, that ban is further extended.

        It’s like they want people to be forced to play awful games.

        I have no problem with losing a good match, but there really is no point in playing a game where nobody on your team even tries to work together.

    • aircool says:

      It’s not really a fun game unless there’s at least three of you. You can have a laugh with a friend, but to actually have an influence on the game and have fun playing it, you need at least three.

  9. Hunchback says:

    “Toxic chat” is the least problem of this (any) online game.
    They have to fix the god damned matchmaking and MMR system that punishes players when someone in their team is a retard and/or ragequits a game meaning they will 99.9% lose the game and rating.

    • Aetylus says:

      Personally I think toxic chat like people calling their teammates retards is the worst part of any online game.

    • the overdog says:

      hey yep you’re literally the type of person that this is meant to punish and that’s a good thing

  10. stringerdell says:

    ‘actioned’ is a loathsome made up word. other than that good stuff!

  11. Herring says:

    The big one for abuse I’ve seen is the in-game voice chat. Not sure how that could ever be policed other than recording all chat (creepy) or just going with the “well you’ve been reported repeatedly in multiple games so you’re clearly guilty” technique.

    • caerphoto says:

      It could do something like cache the voice comms for the match then only store them permanently if a someone creates a report.

      • Herring says:

        Sounds good to me.

        I’m an oldie and am not very experienced with open voice-chat but it was recommended to me when I started playing Ranked.

        In one game the torrent of abuse directed at me (and a few others) was pretty jaw-dropping.

        So I stopped using it.

        A shame really as 99% of the people were really nice, friendly and (often) funny. But I only tolerate ass-hats when I’m being paid and life’s too short :)

  12. PiiSmith says:

    The main problem of Overwatch are their game modes and how characters need to work together. In order to play the game you need to work as a coordinated team.

    If you are not defending or attacking an objective, but fighting your own separate war you are not an asset to the team.
    Tanks need to be at the right position. DPS can get a bit more creative to increase the damage they deal, yet also always keeping the objective in mind. Supports should not get to eager, but still be in the best position to effectively help the team.

    It is an complicated affair. The match making does a piss poor job of bringing a working team together.

    I have played it too much to not see how we could win. I have played it to often to still find energy to rally a not / poor communicating team around me.
    It is a dead game for me.

  13. mollemannen says:

    I remember when i could play a game i paid for however i wanted.

    • Inu says:

      There are still single player games @mollemannen

      Recently i played against a player named DPSORAFK.

      He proceeded to immediately jump off cliffs, grief, icewall his own team etc.

      This is the first instance i’ve encountered this in some 200 games of ranked. It was quite frustrating though, and apparently they did NOT ban players. Only silenced. And it was automated silence.

      Hopefully this kid will be removed from Blizzard permanently.