The internet is a bad place full of bad people, which apparently was news to Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan, who recently blamed a toxic gaming community for slowing down development on the first-person hero shooter. Speaking to Kotaku at BlizzCon 2017, Kaplan stated that building a better community and purging the bad apples was as much a priority as creating new characters like Moira.
“We’re not sitting here with our heads in the sand,” Kaplan said in response to criticisms that features such as a reporting system on consoles took far too long to implement. “You have concerns, and your concerns are now one of our top priorities. If that means the thing we’re gonna focus on as much as Moira and [new map] Blizzard World is toxicity, then we’re gonna do it.”
And Blizzard appears to be dead serious about the fight against toxicity, with Kaplan talking about how a “strike team” consisting of “game designers, support staff, analytics people, and a special group called ‘Risk’ that fights cheating and hacking” was formed for that very purpose. With the concern of griefers and online trolls learning too much, Kaplan did not go into much detail on what exactly this “strike team” does.
But Kaplan did give a few small examples of the lengths to which Blizzard is going—for instance, moderation is focusing less on silencing players or temporary suspensions, and moving more towards stricter and permanent suspensions from the game. The developer is also testing a notification system that will email players whenever they are reported by another player—think of it as a warning or a speeding ticket from a police officer. The strike team is also utilizing machine learning as a tool, using it to gauge which words and phrases in Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm chat are associated with such asshole-ness and douchebaggery.
For some Overwatch players, these measures are too little, too late. Kaplan somewhat disagrees, committing to this fight against bad behavior in their game. “There’s a lot of passion on the team to tackle that right now,” he claims.
Check out our rundown of all of the big news from BlizzCon 2017 right here.