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.
Blizzard Entertainment has announced the creation of Overwatch League. It is a professional sports league for Blizzard’s popular Overwatch game. The inaugural season will begin in 2017.
Overwatch League is a world-class sports ecosystem for professional Overwatch competition. Combining Blizzard’s esports pedigree with the best practices of major professional sports, the Overwatch League will focus on long-term stability for teams as well as opportunities for players to establish the types of professional careers associated with traditional sports.
At the start of the 2017 season, Blizzard will host a combine, where eligible players who have previously distinguished themselves in competition will be invited to try out for teams. Players at the combine will be evaluated across a range of tests, giving teams the opportunity to sign those who best round out their rosters. Anyone picked up by a team during the signing period will be guaranteed a contract that includes a baseline minimum salary and benefits package.
Blizzard Entertainment is in the process of rolling out a high bandwidth server option to Overwatch. It was something that was part of the Overwatch beta. At the time, Blizzard said that they would investigate adding the high bandwidth option to other game modes if it performed well and players responded positively to it.
Keep in mind that this is being rolled out and may take a few weeks for it to appear on all regions. Right now, they are rolling out the high bandwidth option globally to PC. (Overwatch is not compatible with Mac). Blizzard is exploring how they can bring the high bandwidth option to console.
In the official post about this upcoming change, Community Manager Lylirra explains more about what the high bandwidth option means.
So what does that mean? In Overwatch, our high bandwidth option adjusts the game’s client update rate (the frequency at which your client gets updates from the game server) from 21 updates per second to 63 updates per second. This reduces the amount of time between when you complete an action and when your client hears back about the result, which in turn will help make the game feel more responsive.
In addition, Blizzard is adding in “tech that will automatically and adaptively scale down your update rate if we find your connection can’t keep up.” They are looking to add an option that will allow players to self-limit their update rate in a future patch. The reason for that is because Blizzard recognizes that “not all internet connections are equal”.
Yesterday, Blizzard Entertainment enacted a second ban wave of players who were cheating in Overwatch. Many banned players complained online and some of their comments suggested they were seeking some kind of revenge on Blizzard. Not long after that, Blizzard experienced a DDoS attack. This doesn’t prove that the situations are connected – but it certainly looks suspicious.
In May, a warning was posted on the Overwatch Forums that stated: “If a player is found to be cheating – or using hacks, bots, or third-party software that provides any sort of unfair advantage – that player will be permanently banned from the game. Full stop.” In June, Blizzard banned players who were cheating in Overwatch. One would think this should have been enough of a clue that Blizzard is serious about banning cheaters.
Despite a very obvious example of what would happen to cheaters, some players decided to cheat in Overwatch anyway. This caused Blizzard to enact a second banwave. Kotaku reported:
This time around, Blizzard sniffed out players who use “triggerbots”, which shoot for players when their crosshairs appear over a target, and “aimbots,” which aid in accuracy.
A Reddit user compiled a series of screenshots of complaining comments that were posted by people who were cheating and got banned. Many of the comments are overly dramatic, and some are NSFW.
Included in the Kotaku article are a few comments that imply that some banned players want to take revenge upon Blizzard via a DDoS attack. There’s no way to know whether those comments came from people who actually know how to do that, but it definitely looks suspicious.
Yesterday and today, @BlizzardCS (the verified Twitter account for Blizzard Entertainment North America Customer Support) posted a series of tweets stating that they were experiencing a DDoS attack. It affected players ability to log in to all of Blizzard’s games and also impacted their websites.
Shortly before I posted this blog, @BlizzardCS tweeted:
The DDoS attacks from earlier have ended and players can now log into BattleNet. We are investigating reports of World Server Down in WoW.
Blizzard wasn’t kidding when it said it would ban players who cheat from being able to play Overwatch. The game launched on May 24, 2016. Already, there is indication that the bans have begun.
PC Gamer appears to be the first to report about the bans. They mention that one player got banned, bought the game again, and found that doing so was not a way to get around the ban. He still couldn’t play Overwatch.
To me, this is a sign that Blizzard’s ban on cheaters who play Overwatch is being done differently than how they have banned cheating players from some of their other games. It has been said (on forums I will not link to because they discuss things that are definitely against Blizzard’s terms of service) that cheaters who got banned from Diablo III were able to play the game again if they purchased a new copy.
Blizzard posted a list of 1,572 players who are in China, who have cheated, and who got banned from Overwatch as a result. (Some of the battletag names on that list are in English, and several are NSFW). So far, I haven’t seen a similar “name and shame” list of banned Overwatch players in other regions, but China is not the only region in which cheating players have been banned.
Blizzard was absolutely serious when they stated, on May 13, 2016, that they would ban players who cheat in Overwatch. Their original post warned: “If a player is found to be cheating -or using hacks, bots, or third-party software that provides any sort of unfair advantage – that player will be permanently banned from the game. Full stop.” I’d like to see Blizzard do that same ban on the players who cheat in their other games, too.
There is at least one Overwatch player who is very happy about the bans on players who were cheating. This player is thankful that Blizzard is keeping a zero-tolerance policy on cheating in Overwatch. He also feels that the way the bans were implemented could discourage other players from cheating.
Overwatch is already an incredibly popular game, despite the fact that it hasn’t even been released yet. The open beta has ended, and there are many players who are anxiously awaiting their opportunity to play Overwatch (after the game is released). Hopefully, they will be smart enough to play the game without cheating, because Blizzard will be banning cheaters in Overwatch.
The open beta for Overwatch recently ended. A total of 9.7 million players participated. The game can be played on XBox One, PS4, or PC. (Overwatch cannot be played on a Mac – which is disappointing, but not unusual when you consider how many video games aren’t Mac compatible). Overwatch will be released on May 24, 2016, and is available for pre-purchase now.
The world needed heroes, and an incredible 9.7 MILLION of you answered the call. Here’s to our next adventure! pic.twitter.com/YIusT0rCUa
In an official post on the Overwatch website, Community Manager Lylirra (Stephanie Johnson) made it clear that Blizzard will not tolerate cheating in Overwatch.
We’ve always taken cheating in Blizzard games very seriously, and that stance is no different for Overwatch. “Play nice; play fair” is one of our core values as a company, and its something we’ve taken to heart not only when designing the game, but also as we’ve developed our plans to support it and our players after launch.
What does this mean for Overwatch? If a player is found to be cheating – or using hacks, bots, or third-party software that provides any sort of unfair advantage – that player will be permanently banned from the game. Full stop.
The same post gives honest players some ways to report cheaters. Overwatch will have an option “to report players for potential cheating” directly through the game client. In addition, players who believe that another player is cheating, or who have “information pertaining to the use of hacks, bots, or unauthorized third-party software in Overwatch” can contact email@example.com and make a report.
Overwatch is the newest video game created by Blizzard Entertainment. The game has not yet been released, but the beta launches today, October 27, 2015. It will launch in both the Americas and Europe gameplay regions at the same time.
Overwatch is a highly anticipated team-based shooter game. Those of you who attended Blizzcon 2014 had the opportunity to play it at the conference. There has been a lot of hype about the game, and many of the people I follow on social media are excited about it.
The first phase of the beta that is being launched today is a Closed Beta. It is invite-only. The number of players invited into this beta test will be extremely limited.
The goal for the Closed Beta is “100% gameplay feedback”. Blizzard wants players to discuss and dissect every hero, map, ability, and other aspects of the game.
From time to time, Blizzard will open up the beta test for Beta Test Weekends. The main goal of the Beta Test Weekends will be a stress test. They will “open up the floodgates and call on an army to overwhelm” their hardware. These stress tests will be hardware and tech-focused, and will include a restricted number of heroes, maps, and gameplay modes. Feedback, of course, will be welcome.
Want to get into the beta? Be aware that the Overwatch beta will be Windows-only. If you are like me, and use a Mac, you are out of luck. You also have to have the Battle.Net desktop app installed on your computer. Make sure to log into your Battle.net account and opt-in to the Overwatch beta.
The Overwatch beta will include something new – Battle.Net Voice Chat. The goal seems to be to enable players who got into the beta to test out the Voice Chat. If it works out well, perhaps players will use it instead of Mumble or TeamSpeak while they play Blizzard’s games.