Jeff Kaplan Talks About Toxicity in Overwatch in Developer Update

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 09:41 | By: Anson Chan

It isn't often that a game developer directly addresses a problem within a gaming community, but Jeff Kaplan, the Vice President of Blizzard and Overwatch's Game Director, did just that in a Developer Update titled Play Nice, Play Fair. In the seven-minute long video, Mr. Kaplan made a plea of sorts to Overwatch's player base to try and curtail the rising problem of toxicity in gaming, as it is apparently having quite an effect on the game's development. "We want to make new maps, we want to make new Heroes, we want to make new animated shorts, that's where our passion is," Kaplan said, "but we've been put into this weird position where we're spending a tremendous amount of time and resources punishing people and trying to make people behave better."

To clarify though, Mr. Kaplan isn't pointing fingers at any specific individual or the Overwatch community as a whole, as he acknowledges that sometimes, tempers rise and people end up saying some mean things. However, Kaplan stresses that he wants Overwatch to be a fun experience for everybody and that it is up to both the player base and developers alike to help spread positivity in the game and to safeguard Overwatch's inclusive nature. "As much work as we are doing at Blizzard and on the Overwatch team to improve the situation, the community needs to take a deep look inward at each of us and consider...[we're] all here to have fun as well."


Fortunately, the situation isn't as completely hopeless as it may seem. Console versions of Overwatch recently received a reporting feature to supplement each console's native reporting features, and over 480,000 accounts (which makes up roughly 1% of Overwatch's 30 million person player base) have received disciplinary action to date. In addition, Mr. Kaplan promises that Blizzard will continually update Overwatch to combat toxicity, alluding to future plans that involve both overt changes like an increased number of emails and or notifications to people who report bad behavior to confirm that disciplinary action has been taken so that people know that their reports are not being ignored, to some more behind-the-scenes improvements like tweaks to the severity of punishments. "Our highest level philosophy is if you are a bad person who is doing bad things in Overwatch, we don't want you in Overwatch."


Mr. Kaplan emphasized that at the end of the day, the Overwatch player base is more than capable of combating toxicity. Of the 480,000 aforementioned cases where an account has received disciplinary action for bad behavior, over 340,000 of these cases were as a direct result of player reporting. "I hope that all of us, as the player community, decide that we're going to do our parts to really make a difference as well," Kaplan concluded, "Remember to pat your teammates on the back, and if you have that negative comment, maybe just hold it back, and remember that we're all here to have fun."

It is assumed that Mr. Kaplan will not be looking at the YouTube comments on the Developer Update to avoid losing all faith in humanity.

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Staff Writer

Hi everybody! I've been playing all kinds of games for decades now, from FPSes to city builders to the occasional platformer, and if nothing else, it's taught me that games are the ultimate form of art.