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Overwatch director says toxicity not solved, but improving

Abusive chat is down 17% and player reports are up 20% as Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan says "we're restoring faith in the system"

Blizzard says it's gaining ground in the fight against toxic behavior in Overwatch. In a developer update posted to YouTube yesterday, game director Jeff Kaplan touted some recent changes that have helped improve the state of the game.

Three significant changes Blizzard has implemented lately include adding the ability for console players to report people, issuing warnings to players on the cusp of being silenced or banned, and adding in-game messages to let people know when their own reports of other players' bad behavior were acted upon. Kaplan said that incidents of abusive chat in the game are down 17%, while player reporting of bad behavior is up 20%.

"We're restoring faith in the system," Kaplan said. "It's starting to work much better. It's actually having a big impact on the community. We know those numbers are not as great as they could be. The problem is not solved. Things aren't perfect, but it's getting a lot better. And a lot of the initiatives that we're doing here at Blizzard are starting to make a difference."

For example, one thing Blizzard recently started doing is proactively monitoring sites like YouTube for clips of toxic Overwatch behavior. When they find them, they track down the players involved and take action against them. Kaplan said there are other strategies being used to combat bad behavior as well, but the company doesn't like to publicize them for fear bad actors would change tactics.

Toxicity in Overwatch may be coming under closer scrutiny these days with the Overwatch League, Blizzard's ambitious esports endeavor which launched earlier this month and suspended a player for homophobic remarks in its second week of action.

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