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Overwatch’s Avoid Player option was making the game worse, not better

by Eric Frederiksen | June 22, 2016June 22, 2016 7:30 am PDT

Some things just don’t work out how you plan them. Like Overwatch‘s “Avoid Player” system, something the game is losing in its latest patch.

Usually, you’d click Avoid Player because someone was abusive, but it turns out players were using it to avoid players who were just better than them, and it was starting to cause issues. Director Jeff Kaplan explained by example what was going on in a forum post.

“We recently realized that ‘Avoid this player’ was wreaking havoc on matchmaking. One of the best Widowmaker players in the world complained to us about long queue times. We looked into it and found that hundreds of other players had avoided him.”

The player, Kaplan said, is a nice guy. The avoidance wasn’t a result of bad behavior.

This caused the player to have to wait a long time to get into a match at which point he would get matched, because of the long wait, with lower-skill players. This, I’m guessing, only compounded the issue.

In short, a system designed to help players avoid abuse was, instead, being used to help them avoid challenge, and that was making the play experience worse all around. The system, Kaplan said, has been disabled, and the user interface for it will disappear in an upcoming patch.

Removing it isn’t going to completely get rid of abuse like this. Some players are just poor losers and will report a good pounding in a multiplayer match as abuse. But this should make it a bit easier to manage.

Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...