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The team over at Activision Blizzard has posted its latest Developer Update for Overwatch, tackling several community topics. According to director Jeff Kaplan, the team is now actively seeking to make the game less toxic through additional measures.
Posted on the PlayOverwatch YouTube page, this latest Developer Update clocks in at more than a dozen minutes and covers quite a few topics. Given recent concerns brought to center stage courtesy of the Overwatch League, it sounds like making the community less of a cesspool will be a big focus.
We now proactively seek out social media sites like YouTube, for example, and look for incidents of very toxic behavior and track down the accounts that are participating in those and action them, often times before anybody's even reported them or they've shown up in any other place. That's just one example of us being proactive that I think is going to make a big difference over time.
Jeff Kaplan seems to be choosing his words carefully here. For instance, he says "incidents of very toxic behavior," rather than just straight-up "toxic behavior." Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but that makes me believe the team isn't going to be worrying itself about policing every little comment made. If someone goes overboard, it sounds like they're ready to respond accordingly.
In recent days, a player for one of those teams was suspended for using homophobic language during a post-match livestream. The conversation then turned to the fact that the guy has behaved similarly in the past, which led to an outcry about the fact that quite a large number of players are paddling that same toxic boat.
Obviously, that's bad business for Activision Blizzard and the Overwatch community. Some might argue that these measures are long overdue, but we suppose late is better than never. The only way to make the community understand this kind of behavior won't be tolerated is to plainly state it, such as with the new Developer Update, and then actually enforce it, which Jeff Kaplan says is now occurring.
What's great about these new measures is that they don't require anyone to actually report a toxic player. Some folks have just gotten used to hitting mute or finding another teammate to play with. Nobody wants to be a snitch, in other words. Based on Kaplan's comments, that might not be as big an issue moving forward.
So those of you who stream Overwatch or post videos and also happen to be horrible human beings, now might be a good time to delete some old postings and clean up your act. We've got our fingers crossed the developers are following through on this one.