Overwatch's Jeff Kaplan Addresses Toxic Gamer Behavior In Latest Dev Update

Jeff Kaplan

Blizzard seems to have struck gold with Overwatch, which attracted 10 million gamers within a month of launching. It has only grown since then, and unfortunately there are always going to be jerks in big crowds who try to ruin the fun for everyone else. Overwatch has a problem with toxic players, one that Blizzard has been trying crack down on. In case anyone though Blizzard would slow down its effort to thwart bad behavior in Overwatch, game director Jeff Kaplan explained in YouTube video what efforts are being done.

"So as you guys know we recently added the reporting feature, which existed before on PC only. It's now finally on console as well," Kaplan begins. "And we know this reporting feature is not perfect—it doesn't instantly end up in the action you want to have taken, but there are a lot of improvements coming in this regard."

One of them improvements coming to Overwatch players is that Blizzard will share more feedback with players when their reports result in an action. This is something Blizzard has been experimenting with, and to date has sent out more than 20,000 emails to players after taking action disciplinary based on a report they submitted. He also said this is more of a pilot program than anything else, and that Blizzard hopes to increase the frequency of those emails sometime down the road.

Kaplan also set the record straight about the report feature working. He is aware that some players suggest not even bothering to file a report because nothing will come of it, but Kaplan says "nothing could be further from the truth."

"To date in Overwatch we have taken disciplinary action against over 480,000 accounts," Kaplan said. "And 340,000 of those were a direct result of players using the reporting system."

In other words, most of the actions that Blizzard takes are because of user reports. As to what else Blizzard is doing, Kaplan was pretty vague. He mentioned constantly tuning and adjusting its punishment threshold and gravity, but did not go into specifics. He also spent a considerable part of the video reiterating what Overwatch players already know, which is they just want to play the game and have fun without a few jerks ruining the experience.

Kaplan also placed some blame on the anonymity of online gaming, another thing Internet users already know. Blizzard does not have any plans to remove anonymity, so in an odd twist, Kaplan call for the online community to own up to its obligation and accountability when it comes to good behavior. The problem there is Kaplan is preaching to the choir—good behaving players are not the problem, it is the toxic ones who are going to disregard such pleas that are the problem.