Blizzard has enacted the first of a series of measures designed to dissuade Overwatch players from gaining experience (EXP) while they are away from their computer’s keyboard (AFK). This problem is happening in Custom Games, and Blizzard has enacted the first of their escalation plan in order to dissuade players from doing that. If the behavior continues, more of the escalation plan will be put into place.
Game Director Jeff Kaplan explained things in a Forum Post in the Overwatch Forums on Battle.net. He makes it clear that the purpose of introducing the Game Browser and Custom Game features was to enable players to experience Overwatch in unique and different ways. They were aware the features could be exploited, and created an internal escalation plan – just in case players abused the features. From the Forum post:
…It’s very disappointing to us that players abused the system to gain experience while inactive. As some of you have noticed, Skirmish in Custom Game no longer rewards experience. Also, the AFK timer is now in place in Skirmish mode (in Custom Game only). This change is rolling out over a 24 hour period and should be live in all regions by the end of today.
Jeff Kaplan also took the time to make it abundantly clear that there is no moral ambiguity about gaining EXP while AFK in a Custom Game.
I’ve seen some discussion in the community and in the press on this topic and sometimes it gets talked about as if this is a grey area. Is this wrong or is this ok? Well, let me take a grey area and make it starkly black and white for you. Abusing and exploiting Custom Game or any other game mode to earn experience in Overwatch while inactive is NOT ok. The reason I want to be absolutely clear about this is in part because we are going to start to take disciplinary action against people who partake in these activities.
He goes on to clarify behaviors that will get your account banned:
- If you create a Custom game that in any way encourages players to gain experience while inactive, you risk having your account banned.
- If you join any game mode – including Custom Games – with the intent of gaining experience while being inactive, you risk having your account banned.
- Do not name your Custom Game that in any way even implies that gaining experience while inactive is OK – not even as a joke – because doing so puts you at risk of having your account banned.
If this behavior doesn’t stop, more of the internal escalation plan will be enacted – until it reaches the final part that involves turning off the ability to gain experience in a Custom game. Players who don’t want to see the Custom Game feature limited further are asked to help Blizzard by reporting players who get into a game, and then go AFK, for the purpose of gaining EXP.