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Microsoft takes a stand against "offensive language" on Xbox Services

Amended Services Agreement will use suspensions and bans to fight toxic behaviour

Microsoft is cracking down on the use of "offensive language" and the sharing of "inappropriate content or material" among users of its Xbox services.

As spotted by Tom's Hardware, an update to the Microsoft Services Agreement will take effect on May 1 this year, and one key area of change relates to user behaviour on Xbox Services. In its summary of the key changes, Microsoft stated:

"In the Code of Conduct section, we've clarified that use of offensive language and fraudulent activity is prohibited. We've also clarified that violation of the Code of Conduct through Xbox Services may result in suspensions or bans from participation in Xbox Services, including forfeiture of content licenses, Xbox Gold Membership time, and Microsoft account balances associated with the account."

Exactly what constitutes "offensive language" isn't entirely clear. The Microsoft Services Code of Conduct also advises, "Don't publicly display or use the Services to share any inappropriate content or other material (involving, for example, nudity, bestiality, pornography, offensive language, graphic violence or criminal activity)."

In his keynote address at the DICE Summit this year, Xbox boss Phil Spencer addressed the issue of toxic behaviour on Xbox Live and Microsoft's commitment to stamping it out.

"99 per cent of the time my job is great - until it isn't, and that's usually when I hear about an experience on our platform that's just disturbing," he said, referring to players who elect to hide their race or gender to avoid verbal abuse and unfair treatment in-game.

"This is a failure. The sad truth is that the people who are harassed online today start to avoid gaming, and then they start warning others to avoid gaming... Honestly, toxic behaviour doesn't just hurt the individual; it hurts the entire industry."

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Matthew Handrahan avatar

Matthew Handrahan

Editor-in-Chief

Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.