Battlenet’s slow retirement, Overwatch toxicity, and Blizzard’s legal history with ‘modding’

    
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Last night’s update saw the end of the Battle.net branding on the Blizzard launcher. You probably shed your tears back in September, when the company first announced it was retiring the Battle.net name and replacing it with terms like Blizzard Streaming and Blizzard Voice. Now the platform for World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and the rest just says… Blizzard.

Speaking of Overwatch: Kotaku has a look at the shooter’s new system for dealing with toxicity, currently getting a workout on the PTR. The current version has far more specific options for reporting other players, which may or may not lead to better reports and less abuse — but Blizzard is making an effort.

And finally, Polygon has broken down Blizzard’s history with modding and reverse engineering lawsuits, presumably for younger gamers or folks who aren’t aware of World of Warcraft’s diverse modding offerings. Anyone who’s ever wondered why Blizzard cracks down on Bossland, who’s wondered why the DMCA is so powerful, or who’s curious about the legal precedent of the old-school bnetd case should take a look before armchair lawyering down in the comments.

And now, here’s a memed-up Overwatch parody video to end your Friday on laugh. I’m sorry and you’re welcome.

 

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Godnaz
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Godnaz

Question to you all.

At what point should anonymity not be a thing for the Internet anymore?

What people say ingame/online. How they decide to play/disrupt gameplay or even consumer protection/online theft.

What solution would be more effective? Use social security or identity to login like Asia does?

How do you think toxicity, bad behavior and illegal activity be handled?

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Life's Jester

If you or one of your family/friends has ever been the victim of a internet stalker, the answer is easy. There should be anonymity, it may be the only thing protecting someone from having a uninvited guest show up at you door.

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Esoteric Coyote

As soon as all violent crime and theft is abolished. Else, I’d rather not have Internet creepers knowing my real name.

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kidwithknife

I’m not really convinced that anonymity is that much of a deterrent to toxic behavior. Facebook and Twitter make pretty powerful examples to the contrary.

Brendan Drain
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Brendan Drain

Anonymity isn’t going away even if you wanted it to because the internet is global and fake accounts are simple to make. While an online stalker can probably use your username to find your real life name and details right now, nobody would willingly opt to eliminate their anonymity and just hand them that information.

If you really wanted to limit a player’s ability to abuse their anonymity to abuse people, the best way would be for the devs to create an opt-in premium service. You’d have to register your phone number or ID or credit card (that only the game studio would have access to) and would only be able to play with other premium players, and antisocial behaviour would remove you from the premium service. I’m honestly not sure if even that would make a difference, but I’d like to see that tested.

In general, the best solution to toxicity in online games has always been to punish the offenders using an escalating scale of punishments culminating in a full game ban. That doesn’t stop the player from signing up another account in the case of a free game, but for a paid game like Overwatch it at least attaches a financial cost to repeatedly breaking the rules. Of course, this ceases to be a deterrent if reports of harassment are routinely ignored (as in Overwatch) or the game is so cheap that harassers or cheaters can replace their accounts easily (as in CS:GO). As long as the player has some kind of investment in the game, threatening to remove it will carry weight.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

I’d ask you the same question, but remove the qualifiers.

At what point should anonymity not be a thing? At what point should we limit what people say, or how they can to behave, even when some commit acts of fraud or theft?

I certainly wouldn’t want to live under the Chinese Communist system, and I have no utopian idealism that solves all of our problems with cheaters.

In fact, there are more than a few cases where ‘cheating’ leads to progress, so things aren’t so black and white that you can start censoring or banning things by some list.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

When the preponderance of people using the Internet decide that common decency is required in exchanges, that’s what we’ll have.

The problem is that no society governs the internet and society is what determines the norms of behavior for people. These same individuals who act like brigands in their games, probably IRL are polite to their parents, remember birthdays and give the old lady their seat on public trans. Because that’s what their society expects of them. They may not like it and it may not be their “true” selves, but they do it because not to brings great societal shaming.

Games that successfully create a society among their players will always have better communities than games that do not. I compare WoW’s world chat with LOTRO’s world chat. WoW is renowned for its toxic community; whereas LOTRO is famous for its welcoming, friendly, helpful community. This is not an accident. The players in WoW decided they wanted a brutal form of interplay that mirrored the world they gamed in. LOTRO, which does not have factions, on the other hand brings everyone together against an evil that will destroy everyone. Banding together against the common evil is at the heart of the LOTRO society. Whereas competition and destruction of the other guy is the heart of the WoW society. And they act accordingly.

Any outside pressures will have only a moderating effect. Only when a game’s players see greater value in kindness and good manners will toxicity, bad behavior and the rest become fringe behavior.

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Stropp

As others have said, when stalking, domestic violence, identity theft, burglary, and other crimes that depend on knowing who and where a person is at any one time no longer occur.

But also, what about bad governments? There are plenty of governments in the world today that would punish their citizens for having reasonable views and sharing them online.

Do you trust your government to be completely above board with all your data and personal information?

And if you do, why?