Battling Overwatch toxicity is slowing the game’s development down

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If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my many, many years on the internet, it’s that people are dicks. Yes, yes, of course, I don’t mean all people – but the relative anonymity afforded by being behind a screen has bred a culture where people feel they have the right to say and do whatever they like online.

It’s something that happens especially within various gaming communities, where toxic behaviour is often the norm. Dota has an especially bad rap for fostering toxic behaviour, something more recently seen in Overwatch. It’s not something that Blizzard is keen on, so they’ve been working hard to keep that sort of thing to a minimum.

Unfortunately, all the work they’re doing in maintaining civility is slowing down progress on the game itself. So says Overwatch Overlord Jeff Kaplan. In a new video, he explained how they’re spending so much time staving off toxicity that it’s affected the development of the game.

“We want to make new maps, we want to make new heroes, we want to make animated shorts,” Kaplan said. “But we’ve been put in this weird position where we’re spending a tremendous amount of time and resources punishing people and trying to make people behave better.”

Many don’t believe that the reporting tools actually help, but Kaplan says otherwise. Most of their action in this regard is a direct result of reporting. Unfortunately, implementing all of the reporting tools and dealing with them is slowing development.

“I wish we could take the time we put into having reporting on console and have put that toward a match history system or a replay system instead,” he said. “It was the exact same people that had to work on both, who got re-routed to work on the other. The bad behavior is not just ruining the experience for one another, but the bad behavior’s also making the game progress—in terms of development—at a much slower rate.”

The video is weird and perhaps a bit preachy – but definitely worth a watch. In short, it’s all about one of Blizzard’s main tenets: Play Nice, Play Fair.

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Last Updated: September 14, 2017

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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