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Bungie wants to stop AFK players from ruining Strikes or Crucible matches in Destiny. Today they announced that they're taking steps to punish these offenders.
"Sitting idle in Strikes and PvP has been on our radar for a while now, but it’s become clear that a small number of the worst idlers are responsible for damaging the experiences of thousands of other players," Bungie's John Hopson said in the Weekly Update. "One player not contributing in an activity might seem like a small thing, but it can make a Weekly Heroic Strike unbeatable or make a Crucible match unwinnable. Those little bits of damage to the experiences other players adds up over time."
Starting this week, a "small number" of offenders have been restricted from matchmaking. This matchmaking ban is temporary and only applies to the activity where they were repeatedly AFK. If these offenders clean up their act, the restriction will be lifted. If they don't, they'll face stronger measures including permanent restriction from matchmaking.
Hopson stressed that these measures were only enacted against players with a clear pattern of misbehavior, so don't panic "just because you had to put down the controller in a Strike last week when the pizza guy showed up just as your fireteam reached Valus Ta'aurc." You need to be a chronic AFKer to attract Bungie's notice.
He added that player reports are essential for cleaning up the game's community.
"Please be sure to use the reporting system to let us know how your teammates are affecting your Destiny experience, both positively and negatively. We will never act on player reports alone, but we use those reports to find areas and individuals where our automated detection systems aren’t working correctly. They are an invaluable part of how we tune the live experience of our game."
Destiny's endgame is all about earning better gear so you can tackle higher-level content, be more powerful in Crucible matches and simply look cooler. The long hours involved in gearing up and the randomness of loot rewards at the end of activities were bound to result in AFK players. People want to be able to make progress on their long-term goals even when they're busy doing something else, like eating dinner or finishing homework.
This isn't unique to Destiny; players go AFK in Heroes of the Storm or use bots in Hearthstone for the same reason: to get in-game rewards from zero effort. It's on the developer to make sure these exploits aren't worth it, either by reducing the rewards or upping the punishments.
The player community in Destiny has found a range of ways to get easy rewards in the past. They've knocked raid bosses off ledges, killed infinitely spawning thralls and spent hours camped in front of loot caves. As Hopson said, if you want to see any exploits stopped, the best thing to do is let Bungie know about them.