Blizzard has announced that it’s testing a new chat moderation system that it hopes will “improve the viewer experience for the Overwatch Path to Pro ecosystem.” This new system requires anyone tuning in to watch the Overwatch Contenders matches on the official Twitch channel to first link their Battle.net account with their Twitch account.
The trial period is set to start today, December 28, and will run across the duration of the Overwatch Contenders 2018 Season 3 quarter-finals, so up to January 12, 2019. It applies to all regions. “The Path to Pro team then will evaluate the program’s overall effect on creating a more positive viewing experience,” Blizzard writes.
Exactly what forcing viewers to link their Battle.net and Twitch accounts will do to improve the viewing experience isn’t clear as of yet. But as Dot Esports notes it does ensure that viewers of Overwatch Contenders will not be anonymous. This potentially means that Blizzard has a way of punishing toxic viewers through their Battle.net accounts – whether that means account bans or anything else is speculation at this point. Though it should be noted that this is how Blizzard has punished toxic Overwatch players in the past.
Blizzard has been trying to improve the viewing experience of its esports events for a while now. Back in 2016, the company declared that it would start investigating ways to reduce the amount of abuse viewers hurl at each other during broadcasts after a bout of targeted racial harassment during DreamHack that year.
It wasn’t until February 2018, however, that Twitch itself introduced new anti-harassment rules on its platform, making it easier for companies like Blizzard that are actively trying to battle harassment.