Overwatch now mutes Xbox One players with bad reputation
Further efforts to stem toxicity after revelation that abusive players hold back development
A new patch has been released for Overwatch that continues Blizzard's attempts to curb bad behaviour within the multiplayer game.
While consumers will be focused on the new Junkertown map that comes with it, perhaps the most interesting addition is the decision to mute certain Xbox One players - specifically those who have been singled out by the platform's reputation system.
Under this system, any players who receive a significant number of reports - whether for abusive language, cheating, purposefully killing team mates and so on - will be labelled "Needs Work", prompting a warning message to the user from Microsoft.
Accruing more reports for bad conduct eventually labels the user "Avoid Me", which limits them to interacting with a pool of fellow "Avoid Me" players on certain games. While Overwatch allows "Avoid Me" players to remain in the same matchmaking pool as the rest of the community, as of now they will no longer be able to use in-game voice chat.
The change emerged from patch notes posted to the Overwatch forums by community manager Josh Engen, and follows the revelation last week that over 480,000 players have received disciplinary action since the game launched.
The toxicity in the game's community has reached such a level that efforts on these disciplinary actions is actually holding back Overwatch's ongoing development, according to director Jeff Kaplan.
Oddly the patch notes, which also cover PS4 and PC, does not specify whether this muting of abusive players on the other platforms. It could be that Blizzard has noticed particularly bad behaviour from Xbox One users, or that tying in with Microsoft's reputation system made this easier to implement. Equally, this could be a testing bed before Blizzard introduces something similar on PlayStation and PC.