Addressing Overwatch player toxicity is one of Blizzard’s ‘highest priorities’

Two of the leading Overwatch developers have said that addressing the game’s issue with toxic behaviour remains a key priority.

Principal designer Scott Mercer told PC Gamer that the Overwatch team is working on "a multitude of initiatives internally", stressing that player reports are taken very seriously.

"It’s super important for people to realize that accurate reports are super meaningful," he said. "If you do see someone being aggressive, being harassing, whether it’s language or their actions, completely throwing games, any kind of toxic behavior, reporting does work. It’s the best thing we can do to make the Overwatch community a better place to play.

"I think something that’s important to understand is that this is an issue that’s not just an Overwatch issue. It’s something that across Blizzard, we’ve become very, very mindful of. On Overwatch we have a lot of the same issues as Heroes of the Storm does. We both have these player vs. player team games. People acting aggressive, harassing others, unfortunately that happens on all of our games.

"It’s definitely not the kind of thing where there’s one silver bullet that will magically address all the toxicity issues. It’s something that’s going to take time.”

Overwatch boss Jeff Kaplan has previously said that dealing with the toxicity problem has actually slowed the game’s development. Speaking to VentureBeat he has now said that this plea actually went some way to altering behaviour.

“A lot of people were just annoyed with me in that developer update, and then there were some people who said, ‘Yeah, I was annoyed with Jeff, but then I actually — I know I’m a toxic player. I went and tried to be nice to people and here was my experience,’” he claimed.

“Internally, we’re doing other stuff. We don’t usually talk about a lot of this stuff or go into detail, but we’ve been ramping up the penalties. We’ve been really trying to weed out the bad behaviour as much as possible from the game.

“We’re also doing a lot more things in terms of manual searches, just manually kind of trolling through the database and finding outliers. Well, this person didn’t quite trip the automatic sensors that we have in place, but this person is clearly exercising bad behaviour. Let’s make sure they get a penalty, and it’s a stiff one, to dissuade them.”

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