Overwatch Competitive Play Is A Toxic Nightmare Right Now

This frustrated article is about the Overwatch competitive play being a toxic nightmare right now. Fix it.

By Daavpuke, Posted 01 Jul 2016

Never underestimate how much a great idea can result in a terrible execution, once people are added in. That’s all it needs to get ruined. After Rocket League crapped the bed in Season 3 ranked play, the arrival of competitive mode in Overwatch sounded like a wonderful, timely alternative. Additionally, it may even wind down some of the clownery that goes in the shooter’s normal mode, where everyone just picks whatever. When there are points on the line, things should get serious again. Well, that’s half right. Things do get seriously toxic.

Your standard match in Overwatch competitive play.

Right now, every match has the worst of the Overwatch player base trying to ruin the game for each other. If it’s not on one side, it’s the other. Every, single, game. It’s ruining the game; a pure nightmare. Every reason is good enough for getting stuck in twenty or so minutes of abuse. Those who don’t play the one hero some random dude wants, someone who isn’t at the exact spot that player thinks is best or even just picking Symmetra, because, well, it’s Symmetra; those are all reasons to get hurled insults for the rest of all the rounds. That’s part of the problem: There’s no escape. Developer Blizzard is stern on leaving games, so it’s not possible to simply turn away for the next fifteen minutes. Quitting comes with a huge experience penalty and even a possible ban.

Overwatch,toxic,competitive play

Another problem is that Blizzard is way behind on reigning in toxic behavior and even somewhat allowing it to exist. That one strict punishment isn’t enough for players not to play the odds. Previously, the developer already removed their “avoid this player” option, to much chagrin of the community. The rationale for that is that 1% of the best possible players weren’t finding a lot of matches. Unfortunately, that logic means that 99% of users are left wanting. To counter that method, Blizzard only has one response: Block players. Every time there’s a problem, the same standard reply comes back. Block and report toxic users. And it’s not working, because the next game will just have more people throwing restraint out the window. Additionally, players will just report others over everything. Remember, picking Symmetra is a reason, so anything is a reason. It’s hardly a foolproof method.

At this rate, every game has at least one toxic person spouting hate, but it’s usually more. There are a lot of people in Overwatch, but that pool isn’t endless, certainly not at the magnitude of blocks right now. Once someone is blocked, they shouldn’t appear in the team list again. And since matchmaking requires players of similar skill, it also affects the balance of the game. Rank differences are starting to widen, which amplifies frustrations. It’s a circular problem.

Overwatch,toxic,competitive play

While Blizzard is trying to already tweak competitive play in Overwatch, the company also needs to step in to keep its worst users from ruining the game for everyone else. How the developer chooses to address toxicity in the game is how its community will see the game. League of Legends developer Riot Games does a ton of lip service to prevent terrible user behavior, going as far as applying that standard to its own staff. If Blizzard doesn’t perform similar actions, it risks losing its credibility as a competitive game or, even worse, the longevity of a community that doesn’t want to return to a harmful place. That would probably hurt the loot box sales. And if it’s not a good idea to do, simply for it being the right move, at least it’s the sheer bottom line can make it a persuasive argument to step in. Game director, Jeff Kaplan, has been coming out with videos left and right to discuss a number of things; fighting toxic behavior should be one of the next clips.

Overwatch,toxic,competitive play

Toxicity in games is never going to be solved, because there are people involved and people are the worst. How a company reacts to issues, however, can be a monumental difference, even if it’s just a dumb publicity stunt. As long as there’s a feigned interest in keeping abusive players in check. League of Legends isn’t exactly known as a safe haven either, but at least Riot sounds like they’re trying. That’s all you need to do, Blizzard. Pretend to care. Do it now, however, before it’s too late and people move on.


comments powered by Disqus

Related Blog


General Information



Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Blizzard Entertainment
Developer(s): Blizzard Entertainment
Genres: First Person Shooter
Themes: MOBA
Release Date: 2016-05-24

View All

Popular Articles