Sep 14th 2017

Overwatch's toxic community as seen by its developers

Blizzard's game director for Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan, recently released a developer update addressing the toxic community in Overwatch. He wanted to reassure players that they are working to improve the community, and that they don't want to make a place for toxic players within Overwatch. However, he also explained that the more toxic players they have to punish, the more it slows down development.

He started off in broad strokes talking about the reporting feature. Kaplan wanted to reassure players that they really do look at reports. In fact, Blizzard has taken action against over 480,000 Overwatch accounts so far, with 340,000 coming from players using the reporting system. He also added that they don't want bad people who are doing bad things in Overwatch segregated into a separate area for similar players, like some other games do. They don't want players like that in Overwatch at all, and would rather ban them outright.

He highlighted the communities role in lifting up the positive side of things rather than focusing and highlighting the worst aspects of the community. He said everyone is here to have fun, and to imagine every time someone said something negative, and imagine if someone said something positive instead. He added that they could implement systems to encourage that, but unless the community takes the next step and tries for that, it'll never work. 

Not only that, but Kaplan explained that the Overwatch team got into development, because they love making animated shorts, new maps, new heroes, and just new content for players. However, they've found that the toxic players have not only hurt the community, but the people who would have worked on new things had to be moved to work on punishing people instead. So, development has been slowed down because of bad players. 

This was definitely a much different developer update than what we usually get from the Overwatch team. Although with how things have been progressing, maybe it was a necessary one. After all, many players feel like reporting doesn't do anything, when in fact it's the main way Blizzard finds toxic players. It's also working like a sludge leaking into their development machine to slow it down while they work to try and take it out of the community. What are your thoughts? Should the developers be spending all this time working on making the community better, or is it something better left to the community itself? Maybe you think there's a completely different answer. Whatever your thoughts, be sure to let me know on Twitter at @spencerhavens.