Overwatch testing ‘Avoid as Teammate’ option

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Overwatch keeps trying to manage one of the largest communities in online gaming, and the players themselves are often the ones getting in the way. What a time to be alive! Anyway, Blizzard thinks they’ve got a new way to moderate these interactions, and we’re all hopeful that this pans out.

Overwatch had the slightly–but crucially–different “Avoid this player” before but that was disabled in 2016. As Kaplan explained in forum posts back then, it sucked for good players because, of course, the tool was exploited. Folks didn’t like playing against players who could beat them, so good players started getting reported for abuse and suddenly they couldn’t find games.

There are some potential pitfalls, as Jeff Kaplan relates in this video. Note the stuff about warnings and punishments for those that choose to be crappy to their fellow Overwatchmen.

Kaplan explains it all:

The complete test realm patch notes are available now. The relevant notes are included here:


General

–Players can choose to “Avoid as Teammate” with a dropdown menu in the Career Profile

Developer Comments: The addition of the “Avoid as Teammate” option gives players the ability to craft their online gameplay experience. Up to two players can be selected with this feature. If you use the “Avoid as Teammate” option on a player, the matchmaker will no longer place you on a team with the avoided player for one week. To learn more about this feature, click here.

Report Menu

–The “Poor Teamwork” dropdown menu option has been removed
–The “Griefing” dropdown menu option has been renamed “Gameplay Sabotage”

Developer Comments: Due to player confusion about the most appropriate category to report players for poor or toxic gameplay, we are removing the Poor Teamwork option from the reporting system. Players should instead use the Gameplay Sabotage option when players actively harass or disrupt their own team with game mechanics or their actions. Players should not be reported simply for performing poorly, since everyone occasionally has a bad game.

Do you think that these implementation can help turn things around for Overwatch’s online community? Or are you excited to have a chance to keep unhelpful teammates away?

24 Comments

  1. SaintAn says:

    Nice, a new system to be abused just like the currently broken report system that is used to harass and ban players when they haven’t broken any rules. They say they’ll punish the abusers of the system, but they already don’t punish the abusers of the report system, so that’s just empty threats.

    And it really isn’t new since we had something like this avoid system at launch and they took it out because it was *gasp* abused.

    This is what happens when you try to control every aspect of a game, restricting players from having fun instead of opening the game up to the players to let them have the freedom to create content, choose what game types they want to play (I want old CTF), and let them run servers, like all the stuff TF2 allows.

    • Marrow says:

      Yep I pretty much quit overwatch (was competitive/high diamond) once I realised Blizzard was upholding reports against players for one-tricking etc.

      I know it’s a fine line, but really I think mods should stick to banning for hate speech/racism etc, stuff that can be proven subjectively through chat logs. As soon as you admit that there is a ‘correct’ way to play, and not following the meta becomes bannable (regardless of how well you do), you’re interfering far too much with the game itself.

      • Someoldguy says:

        This just seems pathetically weak. If you’re not reporting the player and you just don’t want to team with them, then it should be possible to list a great many players for all time. Then it’s down to you to relax your restrictions if you find you are having to wait appreciably longer for games. The Overwatch playerbase shouldn’t be so small that it’s an issue.

        • Excors says:

          The playerbase as a whole is large; but if the matchmaker is trying to find a match for a GM player at 4am on the Australia servers on Xbox, it’s far more restricted and will struggle to create a fair match.

          It doesn’t just affect your own queue time – if there are e.g. exactly 12 viable players in the queue, but you have Avoided 6 of those players, it won’t be able to create a match, so all 12 players will have to wait. Then some of them will get fed up with the 30-minute wait and will quit and play Fortnite instead, and now there are even fewer people in the queue and they will have to wait even longer.

          If you Avoided someone because they were harassing you, maybe that’s fair enough – better to be stuck in the queue than to play a terrible match. But if you are just e.g. prejudiced against snipers and Avoid them all (even the ones who are perfectly decent for their rank), you’re making everyone’s queue times worse for no real benefit. The 2-Avoid limit tries to avoid the latter situation.

          (This only affects the tiny proportion of people who play at the very edges of the popular rank/time/location/platform ranges – but if those people have a bad experience and stop playing, people who were previously fine are now on the edge, until gradually the entire playerbase is eroded away. So it’s important that the system is designed to work for them too, not just for the average player. Plus it affects a lot of pros and streamers at extremely high ranks.)

          • April March says:

            That’s an incredibly specific scenario. If a single aditional player was queuing at the same time (or if that player had avoided one less person) the match would start without a hitch.

      • Excors says:

        Blizzard has said explicitly that one-tricking is not, by itself, a bannable offence. But if your one-tricking is upsetting 5 players in every match you play, that continual causing of upset is a bannable offence.

        If you one-trick Mercy or D.Va or Soldier 76, you’ll probably be fine – they are reasonably viable in every team composition on every map. Some players might report you for not picking precisely the hero they want you to, but that’s rare enough that you won’t get automatically banned. But if you one-trick Symmetra, who is viable in like 20% of situations and terrible the rest of the time, then you’ll upset your team at least 80% of the time and will get reported a lot and might get banned.

        That seems reasonable to me – it’s somewhat subjective and depends on not-always-reasonable community norms, but if you’re annoying almost everyone you play with then maybe it really is best if you change your behaviour, regardless of whether you think you’re doing anything wrong.

        • mitrovarr says:

          In truth I think that a lot of the people who stubbornly one-trick heroes that everyone hates to see on their team are doing it because it’s an explicitly allowed means of trolling their teammates. That’s why there are so many no-exceptions one-tricks for those heroes and comparatively less for most others, with the possible exception of Mercy (who has a very different playstyle).

          For that reason I’m not super sympathetic to players who insist on playing that way. Also, honestly, you should care about doing things that make your team miserable even if it’s allowed.

  2. Seafoam says:

    I welcome the system, but I’d definetly need more than 2 slots.
    I think the system could have been fine even if it was just the old system, but only for teammates. Since it can hardly punish skill because everyone wants the good player on their team.

  3. Seafoam says:

    I welcome the system, but I’d prefer more than 2 slots or more than just 1 week.

    I think the system could have been fine even if it was just the old system, but only for teammates. Since it can hardly punish skill because everyone wants the good player on their team.
    Or maybe the good old low priority quecue, hmmm? Might be good incentive for players who’re alright deep down to get act together, while total bastards can play amongst their kind.

  4. LuNatic says:

    Can I have a blanket filter to not be teamed up with any sniper mains?

    • Beefenstein says:

      QP is a mode where people go to practice losing.

      Competitive is a mode where people go to practice tilting others.

      I quit OW for a year as I was a tank/support main and, man, it’s rough when you’re trying to play with high ‘team empathy’ but no-one gives a shit. You will still get flamed. Solution? I’ve come back, there’s more supports to play as so there’s more variation, I’ve turned off voice chat and when people are crappy I turn off text chat too.

      I will go into comp at some point and do the same if people are negative. And, yes, if I feel like it I will go into comp to play scrub McCree. There are no limits, no rules, and in the end winning is not the only useful outcome.

      • Meatpopsicle says:

        I stopped for a similar reason, the players are so toxic, especially in competitive. Having players who’ve played ten times the amount of hours you have consistently abuse you because you ‘suck’ is ridiculous. It’s like if you’re so good at the game why are you still getting matched in games with someone who plays on a casual basis?

        I rejoined to check out Brigette and Moira, so far quick play has been relatively tame.. The occasional asshole spamming ‘gg ez’ but they’re easier to ignore.

        I just don’t get why people feel they need to be arseholes. If you couldn’t say it to my face don’t say it online.

      • gnalvl says:

        So much of Overwatch’s toxicity is due to the contradiction of being a team cohesion-driven shooter where the matchmaker punishes you for teaming up with friends and instead encourages solo-queing. It blows my mind that more people don’t recognize this as a gigantic glaring flaw with the game.

        I mean sure, on paper the note makes sense that randoms should be protected from more-coordinated teams. But then you realize:

        a) If the matchmaking is working properly then people who stack often will rise through the ranks faster than people who mainly solo que. Then randoms won’t wind up fighting stacks often, because their rank won’t be high enough.

        b) Since the game is based around teamwork, people who are playing as intended (practicing as a team) should get priority over solo que-ers.

        If solo que-ers simply got mercilessly steamrolled by stacks under the matchmaker, toxicity would take a nose-dive. After all, if you have to be in a party to stand the best chance of winning, then you’ll want to ingratiate yourself with the people you encounter so as to continue to be invited to groups.

        Not only would this make the game play closer to the way it was intended (in a 6-stack with people you’ve practiced coordinating with) but essentially the community would be able to police themselves. Right now if you don’t want to suffer toxic tandoms on your team, you really have no recourse because 6-stacking isn’t viable under the current matchmaker. Expedite 6-stacking, and toxic players will soon find themselves losing because they have no friends.

  5. BlakeMan says:

    That’ll show’em, when I passive aggressively avoid them for a full week. Those toxic neerdowells will think twice about their behavior when they are not randomly matched with Blakeman for 7 whole days. They’ll be thinking, “where’s that blakeman fellow who I like yelling racist slurs at, oh how I pine to tell him of my recent escapades with his mother.” But I will be nowhere to be found for DAYs! I am truly drunk with power!

    • April March says:

      If your line of thought when someone is bad to you is “I wish I could punish them!” them I’d say you’re part of the problem.

  6. Alokozay says:

    Easily abused systems and a laughable list of “offences” that could result in a ban. The sooner this hugbox game dies, the better.

  7. tatties says:

    Hmm, is this just aimed at competitive?
    I would rather have an option to disable text chat permanently so I don’t have to see people complaining about my own personal crafted Overwatch experience.

    • Meatpopsicle says:

      Problem is it’s still a team game, I think some of players started off nice but became so triggered by poor team cohesion they turned into the people they hated.

    • Herring says:

      I don’t know if you’re serious, but you can remove access to text chat and/or voice in the Blizzard parental controls section. There shouldn’t be a problem in “parental controlling” yourself :)

      It is BattleNet-wide, though it’s pretty easy to toggle on and off.

      • Person of Interest says:

        Thanks for the tip. Starting this year I toggle chat off in-game for competitive (and of course voice chat is off), but it tends to reappear at the end of the match when people are the most likely to gripe. Parental controls sound like a more reliable solution.

        In case you think I’m a bad teammate for wanting to disable all communication: I’m low platinum rank, and no one in my games has ever changed the outcome of a match with voice or text chat, other than by tilting their own teammates.

  8. HiroTheProtagonist says:

    Is the OW community so small that you routinely play with the same people all the time? I’ve been playing R6S a lot lately, and I don’t think I’ve ever played with the same team twice, and that’s without bothering to report players doing trolling/TKs/spouting racist epithets. I’d imagine OW has even more players, so why does it need another system in place to ensure that somehow, you don’t get paired up with 1-2 other people in an ocean of hundreds of thousands (especially after all previous attempts resulted in ban abuse)?

    • mitrovarr says:

      Matchmaking can pair you up with the same people fairly often. Sure, there might be tons of players, but if you and some guy are nearly the same SR and playing at the same time, you stand a pretty good chance of playing with them repeatedly, until your SRs diverge.

      What is very common is getting the same griefer/thrower several times in a row because you started with the same SR, have been losing the same amount every thrown match, and have been entering/leaving matches at the same time. Many players have a rule about never entering another match right after encountering a thrower.

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