Blizzard Korea servers punish 18,188 players for toxicity in Overwatch

On the second day of the new year, Blizzard Korea made an unprecedented move by doling out punishment to upwards of 18,000 players on the same day. The charges range on a number of issues surrounding player toxicity as players of all skill brackets and various offenses were given suspensions, punishments, or straight out bans for their infractions over the past year. In the Korean Blizzard forums, many fans of the game have been outraged and have questioned their bans as some have felt they have been punished undeservedly so.

On a monumental day in game moderation history, have Blizzard gone a step too far in trying to establish dominance in their game? And how likely will this kind of behavior repeat itself in other regions?

Big Brother is watching

Fans of Overwatch have often complained about the seemingly ‘broken’ reporting system that feels like it never actually goes through and punishes players that grief your games. Often times, the feedback for your reports is nonexistent. After a while it’s better to just be the bigger person and mute any unfun players in your lobby, but players can inflict harm with more than just their keyboard in the world of ranked play.


© Blizzard Entertainment

In order to combat these negative behaviors, Blizzard Korea put a serious clamp down on some of their worst offenders. In the process of dressing down players and issuing punishments for offenses, it seems like they might have extended their scope a bit too large for their player bases sake. Many players in Korea have often complained about the incessant reporting that takes place for even minor curse words amongst the community.

Due to this cultural norm that is often punished and seen as disrespect in Korea, many players woke up on the morning of January 2 and found themselves silenced for a certain amount of games because of their accumulated infractions. While it is awesome of Blizzard Korea to respond to their player base and actually come through with bans for toxic players, the paint brush may have been too big this time around, and more than a few casual players have suffered in the process.

More to come?

While most players that reside in toxic waters of North America and Europe would welcome mass bans like this in their regions, the immediate gratification you seek in those moves from Blizzard aren’t all that it’s cracked up to be. In a perfect world, it would be ideal for every player to be evaluated on a case by case basis that would determine them eligible, or ineligible, for certain queues in Overwatch.


© Blizzard Entertainment

In reality, no team of individuals could be big enough to deliberate on each and every person for their in-game behavior. Only the top tier talent is monitored that frequently by Blizzard personnel, and even they don’t catch everything that goes on during streams and typical solo queue games. Inversely, simply adding more communication bans to players that intentionally die and grief games for their team isn’t the solution for that specific player either.

For Blizzard to really improve their punishment and accurately assess their player base for the health of ranked queues, the criteria for punishing players must change. For one, the system of reporting a player to Blizzard needs to be much more varied with several infractions set up that can accurately describe the transgression that occurs.


© Blizzard Entertainment

Some instances of griefing from teammates has little to do with what is typed in chat or what is said on the microphone. If a player isn’t necessarily toxic, but their deliberately bad play is putting your team at a loss simply due to one players mistakes, moderators of Blizzard should be able to go in and check the replay from that specific game and confirm a ban or not from their findings.

If players become too trigger happy with the report function, they too can be checked and punished for their infractions however Blizzard sees fit. All in all, it’s always difficult to be the judge, jury and executioner for your own game’s ecosystem. Deciding which behaviors are legit, and which behaviors should be eradicated is a tall task that takes a certain amount of responsibility to uphold. In the future, hopefully Blizzard take more care in applying their control on ranked player bases for other regions.