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Overwatch Community 40 Percent Less Toxic, Says Blizzard

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The gaming community of the massively popular Overwatch has been plagued by many toxic players since its successful launch in 2016.

Being a team-based multiplayer first-person shooter, the Overwatch community has seen online matches that turn fast into an abusive shouting match between frustrated players, or worse, the hateful ones. Although this is not unique for a competitive game, it seems Blizzard Entertainment has not turned a blind eye to this issue.

The game developer has looked for effective ways to solve one of the most common problems that bug competitive games for some time now. Good thing, it fared quite well in its war against toxic players thanks to the endorsement system, Kotaku points out.

Overwatch Community 40 Percent Less Toxic

During a talk at Game Developers Conference 2019, Blizzard research developer Natasha Miller and other members of the Overwatch team revealed some good news. There is a significant drop in toxicity after the addition of a couple of new social features last year.

Miller said the number of matches with negative behavior is down by 40 percent since Blizzard Entertainment implemented an endorsement system, the "looking for group" feature and penalties for quitting matches early on. This feature encourages players to play as a team and stay through the matches the entire time, too.

Endorsement system also allows gamers to find teammates that match their gameplay styles and skills. Players also get incentives from reporting disruptive behavior and rewards for positive behavior such as shot calling and teamwork.

Players' Disruptive Behavior

Oftentimes, players manifest this kind of "disruptive behavior" as they interact with other players with different goals from theirs. For example, two players who aim to go pro get a match with a casual player with a similar ranking. Thus, they feel frustrated over the lack of teamwork or communication.

"Disruptive behavior is any negative behavior that disrupts the core intention of the game," Miller said about the problem. "It's things like intentionally losing a game, typing or saying horrible things in chat or on mic, or being away from the keyboard during a game."

According to Miller, the toxic behavior of players happens because of the lack of societal consequences.

"If you're constantly tardy and you only do the bare minimum at work you're not going to get promoted. You have to watch someone else who does the work get the raise," she said.

Overwatch is not yet completely free of disruptive behavior but a 40 percent drop is still an achievement. Critics say that other game developers can take a page out of Blizzard's book and promote a more inclusive environment, not by banning players but by promoting appropriate behavior during matches.

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