Overwatch’s Jeff Kaplan on how needing to babysit toxic turds slows down game dev for everyone
“I’m Jeff from the Overwatch team,” the outrageously famous Blizzard game director Jeff Kaplan says in this week’s Overwatch developer video. I get a kick out of it when he does that. In fact, he’s back again to talk about “the rising tide of toxicity” in the game. Because it’s a day that ends in Y, and that’s what Blizzard does on days that ends in Y: talk about toxicity.
Kaplan says the PC reporting feature is now on console, in spite of its imperfections, but he says more is coming, including a pilot program for providing feedback on resolved reports that actually result in disciplinary action. He promises your reports actually matter: Almost half a million accounts have been disciplined, a third of a million “a direct result of players’ using the reporting system.”
Behind the scenes, he says, Blizzard is working on what it does to miscreants based on different types of behavior. The philosophy, he says, is that toxic players – whom he suggests are propelled by their anonymity – simply aren’t welcome. Indeed, he says that Blizzard can do only so much: “The community needs to take a deep look inward at each of us and really consider” how to “spread positivity” and “own up” to the players’ own responsibility. Otherwise, Blizzard is spending tremendous piles of resources chasing after and punishing toxic players instead of developing the game, literally slowly down content.
“There’s not going to be a moment when we have a magic patch in Overwatch that makes bad behavior go away, but it is a continual process that we are very dedicated to fixing and improving,” he says. “The Overwatch team accepts the responsibility that we have that we can do far better and add a lot more great systems to the game to improve everybody’s behavior and everybody’s overall positive experience, and I hope that all of us as the player community decide that we’re doing to do our parts to really make a difference as well.”
More on toxicity in the MMO community and especially Blizzard’s progress in combating it: