If you thought Blizzard was already being Orwellian by banning players from Overwatch for off-site behavior, you’re likely not going to develop very fond feelings for the company now that their new moderation program is being put to the test as part of the Overwatch e-sports initiative.
Blizzard rolled out the news over on the Overwatch Contenders’ site, where they announced that if you wish to participate in the chat for Overwatch, you will need to link your Battle.net account to Twitch…
“We’re always testing out new ways to improve the viewer experience for the Overwatch Path to Pro ecosystem. As part of this, Contenders is trialing a new chat moderation program that requires users who wish to participate in Twitch chat to link their Blizzard Battle.net and Twitch accounts.
“The program will be trialed during 2018 Season 3 quarterfinals matches across all regions, from Dec. 28, 2018, through Jan. 12, 2019. The Path to Pro team then will evaluate the program’s overall effect on creating a more positive viewing experience.”
The first thing most people wondered is if this would be Blizzard’s way of banning people from Overwatch for things they say in Twitch chat, which would be an extreme overreach from Blizzard to literally police what people say and how they behave outside of the game itself. Then again, Twitch also bans people for what they say off-site as well, so both companies would basically be looking for reasons to ban you from their services based on how you behave when you’re not using their services.
According to DOT Esports, they continue to push the narrative that all forms of Twitch chat need overt forums of moderation and censorship to keep people from chatting openly and honestly. Even though Overwatch e-sports viewership has mostly tanked since its debut, DOT Esports believes that Blizzard needs to keep stepping up its efforts to moderate all forms of expression when players and gamers are viewing and participating in the livestream chats, writing…
“[…] while it’s true that Overwatch Contenders viewership is low, one of the big problems with toxicity on Twitch is that people are anonymous, which has been linked to bad behavior. People aren’t afraid of consequences of their behavior if no one knows who they are. Linking a Blizzard Battle.net account to Twitch does a bit to reduce that anonymity and encourage viewers to behave in chat, in theory. There are ways to get around it, of course, but that requires creating another account. (Blizzard Battle.net accounts are free, but the individual games cost money. Game purchases aren’t required to link accounts.)”
This kind of encouragement to link Battle.net accounts with Twitch accounts also saw community manager and former employee of Twitch and Nintendo, Jared Rea, championing the idea of using this new account linking procedure to completely ban players from accessing their Blizzard games from the Battle.net account for “toxic” behavior.
The tweet above garnered a lot of negative sentiments from actual gamers, despite being cheered on by the anti-gaming Social Justice Warrior crowd. Rea eventually deleted the tweet as people began to put two-and-two together and figured that this likely would be utilized by SJWs to completely ban players from their accounts because they said mean things about someone in a Twitch chat room.
Even still, we’ve already seen Blizzard banning and fining people for a number of silly reasons, especially when it comes to Overwatch. Banning players from games because they used language that SJWs deem “offensive” in a Twitch chat room would pretty much guarantee a mass exodus of players from either watching Blizzard games via Twitch or playing Blizzard games altogether.
(Main image courtesy of Darkhunter91)
(Thanks for the news tip Wreckless Gamer)