Blizzard is spending extra time trying to repair the Overwatch neighborhood than enhancing the sport.
It’s no secret Overwatch has a troll drawback. Whether it’s one thing small like inserting Symmetra’s teleporter on the sting of a cliff, or an even bigger concern, corresponding to racial and homophobic slurs, there’s at all times somebody who desires to damage a very good recreation by being a little bit of a knob.
This isn’t a difficulty unique to Overwatch. Most video games have a minority group of gamers who want to exploit it by practices corresponding to smurfing, expertise farming, abusive language or match throwing. As a participant, it’s extraordinarily irritating.
But maybe extra irritating is watching Overwatch grind to a halt while Blizzard attempts to deal with these players. You see, toxicity within the recreation isn’t just ruining particular person matches, it’s ruining the complete recreation expertise. While some builders concede defeat with regards to trolls locally, doing the naked minimal to deal with them and directing power into content material, Jeff Kaplan and Co are on a valiant quest to close all of them down – however it’s not going notably nicely.
Back in September, Kaplan addressed the difficulty of neighborhood toxicity head-on, in a growth replace referred to as “Play Nice, Play Fair”. In the video, Kaplan admitted tackling unhealthy behaviour in Overwatch is slowing down the sport’s growth and referred to as upon gamers to be nicer to 1 one other so the staff may concentrate on new content material.
“I wish we could take the time we put into putting reporting on console and have put them towards a match history system or a replay system instead,” stated an exacerbated Kaplan. “It was the exact same people who had to work on both who got re-routed to work on the other.”
While Kaplan’s pleas could have resonated with some gamers, unsurprisingly the bulk didn’t hearken to his heartfelt call-to-arms. Bad in-game behaviour stays a significant concern, because it does in lots of video games. The distinction between Overwatch and different video games is that the Overwatch staff is hell-bent on bettering its neighborhood even when it prices growth time, banning over 500,000 Overwatch accounts because the recreation’s launch, introducing console report buttons, in addition to implementing harder measures for misbehaving gamers. Yet trolls stay and the complete neighborhood suffers because of this.
The slowed-down growth, because of the staff specializing in battling toxicity, is painfully apparent. Overwatch has grown stale. New recreation modes, sufficiently thrilling vacation occasions and new cosmetics have turn out to be few and much between. There’s solely so many instances you possibly can escort a payload or seize a degree earlier than you start to develop uninterested in the monotony and repetitiveness. Luckily heroes and maps continue to be fairly frequent, although the novelty of those new additions wears off shortly.
If competitors is your draw to Overwatch, reasonably than content material, yow will discover your self struggling towards a tide of gamers whose sole function is to damage your rank. Again, this isn’t simply an Overwatch drawback however, if Blizzard claims to be shutting down so many trolls, why are they nonetheless so commonplace and why have we been dropping out on content material to concentrate on a system that clearly doesn’t work it doesn’t matter what Blizzard does? It looks as if a dropping battle.
It’s out of sheer loyalty, and a stable friendship group, that I proceed to play Overwatch. I do know Kaplan and his staff try so I’m making an attempt too. But I consistently ask myself: would I reasonably have a very good neighborhood and fewer content material or extra content material and an terrible neighborhood? Is a ‘good’ neighborhood even doable in trendy aggressive video games or is Blizzard losing its time making an attempt to attain the not possible?
At this level, I need to admit, I’m an Overwatch console scrub. From associates who play on PC, I’ve been assured it’s a a lot more healthy platform however on the few events I’ve performed with keyboard and mouse I used to be so unhealthy that different gamers reported me for being a troll and cursed me out. At least they have been speaking and making an attempt to oust the unhealthy man. The good thing about Overwatch on PC is the power to speak by way of textual content, a function console doesn’t have, so if somebody is being a troll others can band collectively to work out a method to beat it. After all, Overwatch is a staff recreation and one defective cog may take down the entire machine.
Trolling appears to be an even bigger concern on console, whether or not purposeful or not. Console has at all times been a wierd mish-mash of informal and invested gamers, the 2 butting heads with regards to aggressive video games corresponding to Overwatch. It’s laborious to let nine-year-old Suzie know in a pleasant method that if she picks Hanzo yet one more time, once we want a healer, I’ll throw her into the solar. I see her as displaying unhealthy in-game behaviour however the reality is that by being passive-aggressive, or getting clearly indignant, I’m presenting the identical behaviour Kaplan informed gamers to keep away from. I’m straying into being poisonous and hindering as an alternative of serving to younger Suzie. I’m slowing down progress.
On console, voice chat – the one type of communication aside from passive-aggressive voice traces – is a wasteland aside from the occasional screaming baby. Like myself, many are afraid to wander into voice chat as a result of it’s famend for being a cesspool, the armpit of Overwatch on console. The result’s console gamers being unable, or unwilling, to speak with staff mates and due to this fact not really working as a staff with a method. Instead it’s a free-for-all shitfest the place everybody silently seethes at Mei’s placing up ice partitions in entrance of the bottom.
The drawback with that is that usually console gamers don’t really really feel like a part of a neighborhood – out of sight (or listening to on this case), out of thoughts. It is everybody for themselves, a tactic which isn’t notably helpful in a team-based recreation.
I’m keen to attend for a brand new hero, map, pores and skin or mode if it means reigniting the Overwatch console neighborhood, however it appears as if nothing is altering. I nonetheless can’t end a aggressive match with a full staff, gamers nonetheless expertise farm and there’s extra smurfs than in a mushroom-housed village. It appears Kaplan and the staff are preventing a dropping battle and gamers are the collateral harm.
I’m excited to see what 2018 holds for Overwatch. We have already seen the upcoming map, Blizzard World, new default skins and Kaplan has promised a “tonne of new content”. “Not only are there some really awesome items coming for upcoming events, early next year we’ll be adding *a lot* of new items to the base loot box,” stated Kaplan on the official Overwatch forums.
Hopefully this implies Blizzard has lastly realized the coveted secret to balancing new content material and a very good neighborhood, or possibly the staff has simply given up banging their heads on a brick wall that received’t ever crumble and is pouring its focus into revitalising the sport.