Are studios starting to wake up and take action against particularly odious instances of gaming toxicity in their products? Blizzard, at least, is working to police its precious Overwatch League, which certainly does not need more controversy or bad publicity in its first season.
The studio levied a three-game suspension, a $2,000 fine, and revoked the streaming privileges of Philadelphia Fusion’s Josh “Eqo” Corona after Corona made a racist face on one of his streams. Blizzard is reported to have tight control over the League’s players with its code of conduct, in which it wrote that no player or team could bring the League or studio into “disrepute” with their actions. (This is not the first fine the League has issued.)
Speaking of disrepute, the League’s Boston Uprising went ahead and suspended Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez due to allegations that he, an adult, was pursuing a sexual relationship with a minor.
Ubisoft is sick of toxicity in its games, and to combat it, it’s whipping out the banhammer as a “first step” in getting the playerbase under control.
“Starting next week, we will be implementing an improvement on the system we have been using to ban players that use racial and homophobic slurs, or hate speech, in game,” the company told Rainbow Six Siege players on Reddit over the weekend. “The bans for this will fall within the following durations, depending on severity” – that’s everything from two days to a permanent ban. “Any language or content deemed illegal, dangerous, threatening, abusive, obscene, vulgar, defamatory, hateful, racist, sexist, ethically offensive or constituting harassment is forbidden.”
Moreover, toxicity-related bans will be broadcast via global message for all to see.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from War of Rights, Blade and Soul, Lineage 2 Revolution, Darwin Project, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Closers, Elder Scrolls Online, Bless, Soulworker Online, Skyforge, The Black Death, Saga of Lucimia, Dungeon Fighter Online, Mu Origin, Prosperous Universe, Legends of Aria, Battlerite, and Aura Kingdom Mobile, all waiting for you after the break!
Superheroes and streaming make for interesting bedfellows, but for fans who are used to watching a ton of Overwatch on Twitch, it’s perhaps not that surprising. The two entities are teaming up for a series of promotions designed to push viewership of the fledgling Overwatch League.
Viewers can actually earn special Overwatch character skins and Twitch emotes by cheering on their favorite teams and showering them with Twitch Bits. Players can also link their Blizzard accounts to Twitch and earn one league token per live match finish.
“And some lucky viewers will get 100 tokens for every final map they watch per match — enough to get your favorite Overwatch League team skin in the game,” Twitch said.
And “coming soon” will be a purchasable VIP ticket to the Overwatch League. This will give access to behind-the-scenes info, more in-game items, and other unnamed perks.
If you didn’t get in on the ground floor of the Overwatch League with a professional team of your own, just know that it’s going to cost you greatly to join up in the future.
This is because the popularity and success of the e-sports league is driving up the price of a team buy-in. Initially, the cost was $20 million for each of the 12 teams, but this looks to be on the rise for future franchise owners.
ESPN is estimating that, depending how the first season of OWL pans out, the second season could wield a buy-in price of $35M to $60M. “In the past three months, though, the Overwatch League has exceeded its revenue expectations, and several league sources said that the league is at almost four times its original projection. The league got a reported $90 million, two-year Twitch deal, and its two-year deals with HP Omen and Intel are worth $17 million and $10 million, respectively,” the news agency reported.
Back in 2013, when Linda “Brasse” Carlson still fronted SOE’s community branch, she made headlines for making SOE’s anti-toxicity policies very clear. “If we know who you are and you’re abusing somebody on Twitter, we will ban your game account and we will not accept you as a customer ever again,” she told trolls. “It’s not always possible to identify people [in that way], but we take that seriously.” At the time, MMORPG players were divided on whether that was an overall plus for online game communities or a creepy invasion of privacy.
But it’s 2018 now. Times and sentiments have changed, and Blizzard is trying a similar approach now in Overwatch, where toxicity has taken root and blossomed in spite of Blizzard’s apparent efforts to prune it.
In Overwatch’s latest developer update, Jeff Kaplan says fighting toxicity is still a “major initiative” for the studio and that recent additions – like console reporting and suspension warnings – have cut chat toxicity by 17%. Another effective tactic? They’re watching toxic players on social media, particularly in video.
No matter what you’re seeing up on the screen in this inaugural season of the Overwatch League, chances are really good that the people controlling (and almost all of the casters, it seems) are guys. This is because the League’s teams are completely male, a situation that none of them can really seem to address when asked point-blank about it.
Case in point: Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon is widely seen as one of the best players in the competitive scene… and she has yet to be signed on to any of the competing teams, as Kotaku points out in its long piece this week (though apparently Geguri herself believes it’s not sexism keeping her off teams – thanks Loopy). You probably remember her from back in 2016 when gamers and pro players were harassing her and claiming she wasn’t real/was a cheater until she shut them down with a video of herself kicking ass.
When asked about why she (and other women) hasn’t been snapped up, in spite of her participation in other leagues, several teams hemmed and hawed over the fact. It would be funny to read all of these responses if it wasn’t so disheartening. Our favorite? Having to fuss with co-ed player housing.
Mercy just can’t catch a break.
The Overwatch healer is due for another round of brutal nerfs, the latest in a long, long line of downward adjustments to the character by Blizzard. This time, her resurrect has been changed from an instant cast and no longer gives a bonus charge, in addition to a nerf to the speed boost from her Guardian Angel ability.
Blizzard explained this latest Mercy nerf, saying, “Mercy’s recent Resurrect changes have helped in allowing enemies to have more counter play in dealing with her, but she was able to use Resurrect through Valkyrie enough to largely mitigate the impact of the previous changes. Additionally, we’re toning back the amount of mobility Valkyrie provides through Guardian Angel and reducing its duration to overall reduce the power of this ability.”
Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan barely has recovered from his marathon chair-sitting session over the holidays, but the scruffy-looking nerfherder is back in front of the camera to talk about what’s coming to the team shooter in 2018.
In addition to the start of the Overwatch League and the introduction of league skins to the game, Kaplan confirmed the release of the Blizzard World map “very soon” with tons of Easter eggs for players to find. He also teased new heroes, with the next one being “very needed” and in internal testing.
Additional maps are in the works, he said, and the team will be focused on improving competitive play over the course of the year. Story buffs will be pleased to hear that Blizzard is hoping to further the lore of the game through animated comics and shorts. Finally, the “Year of the Dog” event, the anniversary, and the return of Uprising are on their way.
It’s a less-than-ideal way for Blizzard’s long-awaited esports league to begin.
The Overwatch League preseason began this week, although not with all of the expected players. Philadelphia Fusion had to withdraw from the league at the last minute due to “logistics issues,” leaving Blizzard scrambling to rearrange the schedule around this hole. Blizzard Watch theorizes that it Philadelphia’s problems may be related to visa issues or a player suspension. In any case, the studio said that it expects the team will be back to compete in the regular season.
To draw in the larger Overwatch community into the excitement, Blizzard teased the addition of league uniforms next year as in-game skins. The studio also hired painters to create large murals for the game in cities lately, which you can see below.
Blizzard continues raking in the big bucks for its grand vision of Overwatch League, adding three new teams to its roster this week: one from Philly and two from Texas. They’ll bring the final total to 12, where it will stay for its “inaugural season.” The new teams are:
Comcast Spectacor (Philadelphia), leader in sports and entertainment and owner of the Philadelphia Flyers
Team Envy (Dallas), veteran esports organization with experience across multiple genres
OpTic Gaming (Houston), established esports organization known for its passionate global fan base
They’ll join venture capitalists from all over the world, including reps and owners of Cloud9, the LA Rams, New England Patriots, New York Mets, Immortals, Misfits Gaming, NRG Esports, Netease, and Kabam, which superficially secures the League’s future on three continents.
Blizzard has further announced that the season is “just a few short months away” — in fact, preseason play will begin on December 6th, with the season beginning January 10th and concluding with playoffs in July of 2018. This year, at least, all pre- and regular-season games will be held at Blizzard’s shiny new e-sports arena in LA.
Everybody knows that if you are truly serious about being a legitimate force in the e-sports industry, you have to own your own arena. It’s just common sense. And soon enough you can marvel at Blizzard’s games in the studio’s own venue in Los Angeles.
On October 7th, the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles will open as “a cutting-edge live-event destination” for e-sports players and fans. The arena is situated in Burbank Studios and features several sound stages, practice areas, and control rooms. Its first showing will be the Overwatch Contenders Season One playoffs from the 7th through the 8th. The arena is also expected to be the center staging ground for Blizzard’s anticipated Overwatch League later this year.
CEO Mike Morhaime explained the decision to open up an e-sports venue: “We’re at a tipping point for e-sports and we look forward to helping usher in a new era of competition-based entertainment. As we open the doors of Blizzard Arena Los Angeles and welcome fans from around the world, we’re honored to bring the best in Blizzard e-sports to the same stage that some of the biggest names in entertainment have called home.”
He may not be old enough to vote, but 17-year-old Jay Won is already making more money than you. Probably.
Won, an Overwatch player who goes by the handle “sinatraa,” just landed an $150,000-per-year contract with NRG Esports. He will be playing for the e-sports firm on its Overwatch League team, enjoying revenue-sharing options and team bonuses above and beyond his annual salary. Which, again, is $150,000.
Apparently Won is such a good player and in such great demand that there was a bidding war between teams to grab him. He’s also part of the North American Overwatch World Cup team, which will be competing in early November at BlizzCon.
This is merely the latest drop of wild news to fall into the bucket of Overwatch League craziness. The fledgling league is expanding aggressively as it seeks to establish itself and the game as a legitimate e-sports outlet. Last month, the OWL expanded to include teams from London and L.A.
. Thanks Sally!