‘Overwatch’ toxicity got ‘incredible decrease,’ Blizzard says


Blizzard shared some insights today regarding the overall toxicity in Overwatch. So far, they claim it had an “incredible decrease,” thanks to machine learning.

In a fireside chat today, Blizzard President J. Allen Brack noted that their new machine learning system is paying dividends.

He claims it has created an “incredible decrease” in abusive language and toxic chatter in Overwatch.

Machine learning system helped decrease abusive language

April last year, Blizzard publicized their new anti-abuse system designed to combat toxicity in their games.

The system uses machine learning, which accounts for the behavior of the entire player base. It cracks down on toxic chatter within the community.

In today’s discussion, Brack was happy to report positive results from the system. While it was a complicated process, it was enough to calm down a restless community.

“Part of having a good game experience is finding ways to ensure that all are welcome within the worlds, no matter their background or identity,” Brack said. “Something we’ve spoken about publicly a little bit in the past is our machine learning system that helps us verify player reports around offensive behavior and offensive language.”

“This system has been in place in Overwatch and in Heroes of the Storm. It allows us to issue appropriate penalties quicker, and we’ve seen an incredible decrease not only in toxic text chat, but an overall decrease in re-offense rates.

“A few months ago, we expanded this system into World of Warcraft’s public channels, and we’ve already seen a decrease in the time disruptive players stick around by half, and we’re continuing to improve the speed and the accuracy of this system.”

Toxicity commonplace in online games

Toxicity in online multiplayer games is a common problem. Many games like Team Fortress 2, Overwatch, League of Legends, and CS: GO have griefers in public. These trolls tend to lean towards abusive language when things don’t go their way.

Blizzard’s system tries to dole out strong punishments, especially for repeat offenders. Bad behavior within their games receives quick hits, especially with their profanity filters.

So far, the system uses a three-tier language system. Every profanity will come in within three layers of language, one less acceptable than the other.

Once the system generally filters vile chatter, it can send a warning or a ban as soon as possible.

“These are small steps, but they can add up to lasting change,” Brack said. “Combating offensive behavior and encouraging inclusivity in all of our games and our workplaces will always be an ongoing effort for us.”

Blizzard is looking to implement the system beyond Overwatch. They already added it to World of Warcraft and expected to use it in other titles too.

Featured image courtesy of PlayOverwatch/Youtube Screenshot

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