Blizzard has outlined its "disruptive behavior" management system
Defense Matrix will ensure the shooter sequel offers up a high-integrity and positive experience.
Blizzard has announced their new 'Defense Matrix' initiative to manage disruptive players upon the release of Overwatch 2 (OW2).
Releasing on October 4th, the game will be free to play from launch, which could lead to a surge in disruptive behaviour, so Blizzard are addressing these concerns from the start. Blizzard said: "Overwatch 2 gives us the chance to continue to level-up and iterate on our systems to combat disruptive behavior and cheating in ways that a simple update wouldn't allow."
The first major change is 'SMS Protect', whereby all players on all platforms - even prior physical copy owners - will require a phone number to be attached to their Battle.net account in order to launch OW2. Blizzard calls the move "an industry-proven solution in combating both cheating and disruptive behaviour". Only one Battle.net account can be made or registered to a number at any given time, and pre-paid and VOIP numbers will not be accepted.
Blizzard are also addressing in-game toxicity through a series of system design changes. The most significant is the implementation of text-to-speech programmes alongside their existing machine learning technology. When a player is reported, audio logs from the game will be processed into a text document, which will be automatically reviewed for disruptive behaviour. Blizzard said: "Your reports matter—player reporting is one of the most effective methods for identifying and actioning disruptive behavior as quickly as possible." A ping system will also be implemented, and general chat is being removed from the game entirely.
Blizzard's approach to the first time user experience (FTUE) is being entirely restructured. With the exception of previous players and Watchpoint Pack owners, players will begin with limited access to the various game modes, features, and heroes of OW2. The first phase of this FTUE will unlock all game modes and in-game chat, whilst the second - estimated to take around 100 matches - will unlock all of the original Overwatch heroes.
Most of the game mode and communication restrictions will be lifted for new players learning the game in a group though, as Blizzard believes that "the game should be played and enjoyed alongside friends." In order to access competitive matchmaking, players must rack up 50 wins in quick play matches. This comes alongside the removal of in-game levels, and increased customisation options in order to reduce pre-match bias towards less-experienced teammates from OW veterans.
Blizzard said: "Disruptive players are unable to immediately affect the larger community, with things like voice chat and match chat unlocking later in FTUE. Brand-new accounts made by cheaters or disruptive players will all have to play through this experience, giving us the chance to identify suspicious accounts before they enter other game modes."
These measures should provide OW2 with a steady base to navigate the future of the franchise. "As the game grows, so will our efforts maintain the long-term health of Overwatch," said Blizzard. "We'll constantly be working to improve and grow our Defense Matrix to ensure that Overwatch 2 is a fun, fair, and safe game for everyone."