Overwatch’s endorsement system has created a far less toxic online community

Blizzard’s endorsement system in Overwatch is apparently doing a solid job of cutting down on toxic behavior within the popular hero shooter, with a recent GDC presentation touting a drop of 40 percent across matches.

In the world of gaming, there’s usually only one route taken to addressing negative behavior: The ban hammer. If players get too many reports, they get restrictions put on their accounts or have their account put on probation or permanently axed. While there’s definitely still a reporting system within Overwatch, Blizzard last year introduced a system called “endorsements,” meant to reward players for good behavior.

During last week’s GDC talk (via PC Gamer) Blizzard announced that endorsements have resulted in nearly half as much toxic behavior during matches. Furthermore, following a survey to judge the success of the system, players agreed that the new endorsements system was largely to blame for less name-calling, trolling, unsportsmanlike conduct and the like.

So it looks like offering in-game rewards for good behavior is an even more successful way to get players to chill the hell out than punishment; or at least that’s the case in Overwatch.

For those unfamiliar with the system, endorsements allow players to give kudos to other players for good behavior. If you help your team work well together, are an effective communicator and present a respectful attitude, other players might tag you for your good behavior. Earning those endorsements lets you rank up through five levels. Having a higher level means you’ll more commonly get matched with similar positive players and, during certain events, everyone earns free loot boxes based on their endorsement levels. The goal is to keep playing well with others and keep earning endorsements to keep your level nice and high.

Given the success of Blizzard’s endorsement system over the past year and following the presentation of those results, it’ll be interesting to see if more online games adopt a similar system.

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Ryan has been playing games for a lifetime and enjoys writing about them. Polar bears are left-handed. Need to get in contact? Feel free to e-mail Ryan.

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