Blizzard wants to clean up Overwatch esports chats. The game studio will be testing a chat moderation system for its Overwatch Contenders feeder league. The moderation system will require users to link their chat in the Twitch channel to their Battle.net accounts. Blizzard announced this decision on the Overwatch Contenders website.
Users play Blizzard’s games through a Battle.net account. It is unclear how linking one’s Twitch account to their Battle.net account will clean up esports chats, but we can assume that inappropriate comments may affect users’ Battle.net account ranking.
The experiment started on December 28th with the Season 3 quarterfinals. It will continue until the round ends on January 12th, 2019, after which the Contenders team will assess whether or not asking people to link their accounts was successful in making the chats more civil.
Eliminating anonymous or semi-anonymous chats should save the moderators time and help Overwatch become a more professional and competitive game that attracts a larger audience. It may even take Overwatch esports into the mainstream.
Overwatch cleaning up its act will help increase the game’s appeal. It means a much wider audience will be able to stream the games, thanks to a more family-friendly chat environment. The game will also be able to attract more advertisers.
Blizzard already banned the ‘Pepe’ emote during the Overwatch League’s debut at the start of this year. The studio took this measure because the emote was linked to racism and, specifically, white supremacism.
Blizzard also faced a lot of controversy over the discipline of professional Overwatch players, including a scandal where a played called DreamKazper preyed on a 14-year-old girl and an incident in which Canadian Overwatch player and Twitch streamer XQC was dropped from the League due to his over-the-top antics and controversial statements.
More recently, Joon-Yeong “Profit” Park, a DPS player on London Spitfire, flashed his middle finger directly to the camera in front of the crowd. Profit claimed he was playfully teasing his teammates and coaches watching him on camera, and there was no ill-intent behind his actions.
Profit later issued a statement apologizing for his mistake. Despite his apology, the player was fined $1000 by the League. To avoid such controversies in the second season of Overwatch League, Blizzard will also be monitoring players’ behavior using a “discipline tracker.”
Blizzard announced that the tracker will list all violations committed by Overwatch League players as well as the punishments received by the players. According to the tracker, seven players have already been penalized for violating the League’s code of conduct.
This is surprising since the games haven’t even started yet – it is currently the off-season, and the matches won’t start until February 14th, 2019. But the Overwatch League appears to be ready to monitor players’ overall conduct and discipline history throughout the year.
Blizzard took this measure because the League is expanding. It will be adding new teams to the roster, and new teams mean new players. In order to keep a close eye on them, and to prevent history repeating itself, Blizzard is now taking the extreme measure of monitoring its players.