Jeff Kaplan: ''It often feels like there is no winning'' against toxic Overwatch users

Game director says forums don't feel like a safe environment for his team

Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan has spoken out about the intimidation faced by members of his team from the game's often toxic community.

In a post on the game's forums, Kaplan detailed how "downright scary" it can be for members of the Overwatch development team to take more public facing roles and engage with the community.

Kaplan was responding to a thread started by user Vánagandr about the lack of updates from Blizzard and suggestions that the Overwatch team is short staffed, or simply too small to meet demands of the game. Other users on the forums accused the developers of being lazy or too focused on esports. There were also a number of complaints about the length of time it takes for the team to fix bugs or re-balance heroes.

In an impassioned defence of his team, Kaplan said it "often feels like there is no winning" and laid out how intimidating he and his colleagues find it when taking to the forums in order to address players' concerns.

"Overall, the community is awesome to us. But there are some pretty mean people out there," said Kaplan. "All of our developers are free to post on these forums. Very few of us actually do because it's extremely intimidating and/or time consuming."

He later added: "Because we are open with you and do not hide behind an anonymous handle (like all of you have the luxury of doing), we often times get personally attacked and threatened."

Kaplan also told of how he and his colleagues can't post on the forums without their bosses literally receiving emails calling for their dismissal.

"It's not exactly what I would call a safe environment for creative people to openly express their thoughts and feelings," he said.

Kaplan's comments come after he announced last month that Blizzard was tackling the "rising tide of toxicity and bad behaviour" by taking action against 480,000 Overwatch accounts.

The move to clean-up the Overwatch community came at a cost though. Kaplan said that team devotes "a tremendous amount of time and resources to punishing people," and it slowed progress of the game.

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Latest comments (2)

It's honestly rather depressing to see even big studios struggle with the question of how to deal with player toxicity and how to protect their employees while keeping lines of communication open. It's not a problem unique to games by any means, but it's a damn shame when creatives are discouraged from connecting with the people who enjoy our work because of the attitudes of a loudly toxic few.
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James Batchelor UK Editor, GamesIndustry.biz4 years ago
Indeed, and it feels like it's leading to a massive step backwards for the games industry where companies are less transparent/communicative. The rise of social media led to this potentially wonderful age where players had a direct connection to their favourite creators, could forge relationships with them, and offer feedback that informs and improves game quality going forwards. And I'm sure that's the majority of what developers receive, but if that minority becomes to difficult to bear, the majority (and the industry) is going to miss out when those channels close.
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