Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan isn’t angry, he’s just disappointed. Kaplan just released a long statement about people farming custom games for xp while AFK in Overwatch, and it’s so cutting that even I - a man who plays Overwatch once a month - felt guilty.
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People have basically been abusing custom games to set up the parameters in a way that makes it easy to farm xp with no effort. Kaplan says the team knew this was a possibility, but they hoped people would behave. Since people are not behaving, sanctions and bans are coming.
“I’ve seen some discussion in the community and in the press on this topic and sometimes it gets talked about as if it is a grey area,” says Kaplan. “Is this wrong or is this ok? Well, let me take a grey area and make it starkly black and white for you. Abusing and exploiting custom game or any other game mode to earn experience in Overwatch while inactive is NOT ok.
“The reason I want to be absolutely clear about this is because we are going to start to take disciplinary action against people who partake in these activities. If you create a custom game that in any way encourages players to gain experience while inactive, you risk having your account banned. If you join any game mode - including custom games - with the intent of gaining experience while being inactive, you risk having your account banned. Also, do not name your custom game that in anyway even implies that gaining experience while inactive is OK - please do not even do this as a joke - because you are putting yourself at risk of having your account banned.”
Already changes have been made to the game to combat these cheaters, with Skirmish in custom games no longer rewarding experience. Also, the AFK timer is now in place in Skirmish mode in custom games. Blizzard say they had an escalation plan in place for if this behaviour starts, and these are the first steps.
“Obviously, I know what our plan is and how we will ramp things up to combat this behaviour here on the Overwatch team,” Kaplan continues. “But at this point, I am making a plea to you - the Overwatch community at large: please decide what you want to happen here and be a part of the solution. If you enjoy custom games awarding experience then please help us combat the behaviour we’re seeing now. Do not create custom games with the intent of gaining experience while inactive. Don’t join those games. Don’t jokingly put those names in your own custom games. And report players who are abusing the system.
“We, as much as the vast majority of you who are enjoying the feature as designed, do not want to see experience gain go away. Please help us out here.”