Blizzard is apparently making progress in its battle against toxicity in Overwatch, with the developer crediting the addition of two social features for the significant turnaround in the playing environment of the hero-based shooter.
The issue of Overwatch toxicity has been a thorn in Blizzard’s side almost since the multiplayer shooter was launched. Blizzard research developer Natasha Miller, however, shared some good news at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on the company’s progress in solving the problem.
Miller said that taking a look at the number of reports per match, there has been a 40 percent decline in matches where players experienced disruptive behavior since the introduction of the endorsement system and the Looking for Group feature.
The Overwatch endorsement system, which Blizzard introduced to the game last year, allows players to endorse their teammates or opponents for sportsmanship, as a good teammate, or as a shot-caller. The endorsement rating of each player is public, so teammates will know what to expect from each other before matches start.
Miller said that players mostly perceived the endorsement system as the reason for the decrease in negative behavior in the game. The system gave the community its own reward system, so that there are consequences for bad behavior and rewards for good behavior.
The Looking for Group feature, meanwhile, allows players to look for specific teammates under different parameters, including endorsement ranks, hero roles, and communication styles. By grouping players with similar goals, teams function more harmoniously, decreasing the chance of clashing styles that often resulted in toxicity.
Unfortunately, while there is a 40 percent decline in matches with toxicity, that still leaves a significant percentage of matches with bad behavior. It is also unclear if the lower percentage may be just players believing that nothing can be done even if they report toxic players.
Toxicity in Overwatch has spawned problems such as harassment against healers and the Ellie controversy in Overwatch Contenders early this year. The issue is not yet completely resolved, and there is a chance that it will never go away, but it at least looks like Blizzard is staying true to its word that it is taking the fight against toxicity seriously.