Overwatch 2 finally, finally, it will arrive next week. Ahead of the big move to a free-to-play model and all the complications that can bring, Blizzard has laid out some of the measures it uses to keep the game fair and safe and to minimize “disruptive behavior and gameplay.”
He calls this strategy, spearheaded by cross-functional teams from across Blizzard, the Defense Matrix (you know, like D.Va’s almighty cone of protection). The goals, as stated by the company in a blog post, are as follows:
- Define, develop and nurture programs that ensure a positive experience for all players.
- Ensure competitive integrity at every level of play by quickly identifying and eliminating cheaters and disruptive players.
- Create a safer community in and out of game by taking a strong stance against disruptive gaming and empowering players who are both positive and constructive to be leading voices in the community.
That’s all very well and good, and it’s hard to argue with any of it. However, the devil is in the details, and there are some that are bound to outrage some players.
“Overwatch 2” phone number request.
First, everyone Overwatch 2 In order to play the game under a measure called SMS Protect, a player will need to have a mobile phone number linked to their Battle.net account. This was already understood based on the fine print Overwatch 2 Watchpoint Pack.
You will not be able to use the same phone number on multiple accounts, and you may not use the same phone number to set up multiple accounts. Additionally, some kinds of phone numbers won’t work, such as prepaid or burner phone numbers and VOIP numbers (so probably don’t rely on Skype or Google Voice). Players coming from the original Overwatch a phone number will also need to be attached.
Note that you will be able to connect one account from each platform (PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch) to the same Battle.net account, so one phone number will work for all platforms. I’ll have more details on what this means for people with multiple accounts on the same platform soon, but the obvious goal is to crack down on smurfs and alternate accounts.
The idea seems to be that each player gets one account. On the other hand, considering the hoops players will have to jump through to set up a second account Overwatch 2, they will have to be more careful when playing by the rules to avoid getting their account suspended or banned.
Voice chat review
Plus some details on how Blizzard plans to keep things safe for players in the game. In the weeks following the game’s launch, the company will introduce audio transcripts to help review in-game messages. This builds on machine learning measures that have been used to detect and remove “disruptive behaviour, cheating and intrusive text chat”.
“Audio transcriptions allow us to collect a temporary recording of a flagged player’s voice chat and automatically transcribe it through text-to-speech programs,” Blizzard’s blog post reads. “The text file is then analyzed for disruptive behavior by our chat screening tools. Once the audio is transcribed to text, it is quickly deleted, as the sole purpose of the file is to identify potentially disruptive behavior. The text file is then deleted no later than 30 days after the audio is transcribed. ”
This approach still relies on players reporting toxic, abusive and disruptive behavior manually, as Blizzard has long-term non-stored data from voice chats.
This is similar to the type of voice chat monitoring that Riot is implementing Appreciation. With the abuse that permeates voice chat in many games (including incompetent, racist, and sexist garbage), it’s important to be able to root out bad actors and suspend or ban them.
In a similar vein, the general chat feature that players have been able to access while out of matches is being removed. “We found this to be an area where there was frequent disruptive behavior,” Blizzard said. “General chat does not serve a productive purpose and could be removed without compromising the core mechanics of the game.” Group, team and match chat options will still be available in games.
I sometimes asked other players in general chat how they were doing, but I never used it much. I heard it was also a vector of offensive language, so I’m totally fine with it going away.
The blog post also highlights the new ping system as a useful way to communicate with teammates without having to use voice communication (although it can also improve voice chat).
I’m a big fan of the ping system. I play sometimes Overwatch 2 when my partner is sleeping and I don’t want to bother her by chattering into the microphone. To be honest, I often feel self-conscious using voice communication anyway. Most importantly, the ping system seems to be a big improvement in availability.
In the meantime, there have been significant changes in endorsements. Instead of three support categories, there is only one. And you can only support your teammates. “This change will make it easier for positive players to reach and maintain a high level of support,” Blizzard said. People who have a high level of support will gain some experience to help them progress through the Battle Pass.
Finally, the blog post is about the changes to the screen that will appear before competitive matches. The border of the portrait disappears completely Overwatch 2 and the competitive pre-match screen will also not include player skill levels (although you should be able to see them from others’ profiles if they are set to public).
“We found this to be a pain point for Competitive, as some players made judgments about their teammates before the match started, which immediately caused either explicit or implicit bias,” Blizzard said. “We want this change to help players work together by removing this potential bias.” This means you’ll be able to display custom business cards and titles alongside your player icon and username.
The blog post also goes into what things will be like for new users (besides having to wade through the free Battle Pass to unlock Kiriko if they don’t want to pay). I’ll get into that in some detail in some other posts, including details on how to get access to all the heroes from the original Overwatch and how competitive modes can come into play.
Elsewhere, Blizzard will expand its anti-cheat systems when Overwatch 2 starts He assembled a team of people from across the company to develop Defense Matrix systems, including engineers, designers, manufacturers, researchers, data scientists and security analysts. Developers also work with external partners and security companies from their side who create technologies against tampering, fraud and reverse engineering. Additionally, they work with other game developers in the industry to minimize disruptive behavior and promote positivity in the game Overwatch 2 and other Blizzard titles.
There’s a lot to take in here. If something is not clear to you, don’t worry ask me on twitter and I will help as best I can. In addition, I spoke with Overwatch 2 developers about these changes, so I’ll have more details soon.