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Blizzard introduces “Avoid as Teammate” option in Overwatch

Written by Andres Chavez

The internet’s favorite hero shooter is helping players avoid potentially toxic teammates.

Since Blizzard announced their efforts to fight toxicity within the Overwatch community at the start of 2018, the game has seen improvements to its in-game reporting tools, stronger suspensions for offending players, and even the launch of a console-side reporting system. Soon, Overwatch players will be able to temporarily avoid pairing with up to two players at a time.

Under this revamped system, players can avoid two other players for reasons that aren’t necessarily reportable. “Perhaps somebody on the team is completely disagreeing with the heroes you’re picking, and the person is not harassing you [or] saying anything overly negative, but you just don’t want to be grouped with them again,” said Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan in a developer update. “That’s a great example of a chance to use ‘Avoid as Teammate’”.

The shooter launched two years ago with a similar feature – an “avoid this player” button meant to single out toxic players – but the Overwatch team noticed its potential abuse within a month.

“We realized that ‘avoid this player’ was wreaking havoc on matchmaking,” wrote Kaplan in June 2016. “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…
because they did not want to play against him, not because of misbehavior.”

To avoid potential abuse, Overwatch will limit users to avoiding two players at a time, and Overwatch’s matchmaking will only avoid them for a week. Furthermore, the feature doesn’t promise that you won’t see avoided players on the enemy team.

The development team plans to monitor the system and could open up more avoidance slots if they feel they can.