The Overwatch beta is over, and all that’s left is the long wait. Blizzard are going to fill the gap with as many announcements, comics and animated shorts as they can to keep the game fresh in our minds, starting today. A few hours ago, community manager Stephanie “Lylirra” Johnson posted on the official forums a statement about hacking, cheating and the measures Blizzard are taking to identify and punish both. In it she confirmed that there was already active cheating in the beta, that those found were permanently banned and that a new option will be added in-game to report players for suspicious behaviour. In lighter news, a new comic, focusing on Symmetra, was also released.
The best Overwatch characters should only be used for good.
The post begins by saying that Blizzard are “unlikely to publicly acknowledge when accounts are closed as a result of cheating or using unauthorized programs” but that they are constantly monitoring for players getting, ahem, outside assistance. Lylirra then goes on to point out the [email protected] e-mail address is where all reports and evidence should be sent to and say that “thanks to reports submitted during the beta, we’ve already made improvements to the game as well as removed players who were found to be cheating.” The punishment for anyone found doing so was and is an immediate, permanent ban.
There’s no details beyond that, though it’s likely the post was made in response to community concerns in recent days about apparent cheating during beta tournaments. This thread on NeoGAF has a series of gifs and videos, sourced from Reddit, accusing various ‘pro’ players. In fact, later in her post, Lylirra specifically says that video evidence is useful, but will never be used as sole evidence for a ban and should not be posted publically in hopes of avoiding witch-hunts. Part of this is because the various video playback tools available within game - the Play of the Game video, the killcam and even the spectator client - are not perfectly reproducing what happened, and can have unexpected bugs that make innocent players look like cheaters.
That said, they are making it easier to report players by adding a cheating option to the right-click report menu that already exists in-game. Currently this can only be used to identify players that are being particularly offensive - it was a little odd that the one or two suspicious folks I came across didn’t have an applicable category. That will be in on launch. Presumably, there is also some form of active anti-cheat software running that hackers must at least bypass to get online in the first place, but obviously Blizzard won’t want to detail it.
The full post is worth a read for more info on Blizzard’s policies, as well as why not everyone who looks like a hacker is immediately banned - including a rather amusing paragraph on some people just being real, real good at FPS games. I hear that. While we’re here, Blizzard also released the latest comic, about Symmetra infiltrating a rival development company. Have a read on the official site.