Blizzard unveils the Defense Matrix as a way to fight toxicity in Overwatch 2

The system will monitor player activity to prevent toxic behavior and cheating.

There are big changes coming to Overwatch 2. One of the biggest changes is that the game is moving to a free-to-play model to attract more players.

The Defense Matrix is a new suite of tools to promote positive behavior in OW2.

In competitive games, especially in free-to-play games, the challenge is always how to keep players from griefing or excessive use of foul language. Some incentivize good behavior by giving in-game rewards. But, with the expected influx of new players for Overwatch 2, Blizzard will be introducing a new tool to help them disincentivize disruptive behavior and gameplay.

According to Blizzard, the Defense Matrix is an "infrastructure of systems designed to help protect the integrity of gameplay and promote positive behavior in Overwatch 2."

The three main components of the Defense Matrix are the SMS Protect, Audio Transcripts, and First Time User Experience. These three systems along with other tools will help Blizzard combat toxicity within the community.

The Defense Matrix is the name of DV.a’s special ability where she can absorb and nullify incoming attacks. Similarly, the tool will try to stem negative behavior in OW2.

SMS Protect

Having players register a valid phone number makes cheating harder.

Beginning at the launch of Overwatch 2 on October 4, players will be required to register a valid phone number with their Blizzard account. Multiple accounts cannot register the same number.

In an interview, OW2 lead designer Bill Warnecke mentions that "SMS protect focuses a bit on the bad actors and the players who are willing to use cheats and potentially are willing to cycle through many, many accounts." The main idea behind SMS Protect is to make it harder for players to cheat by taking away the ability to create multiple accounts.

In Overwatch 1, the consequence when a player is caught cheating would be having his/her account banned. Since Overwatch 2 is free-to-play, Blizzard looked for a way to prevent players from creating multiple accounts to circumvent bans and other forms of punishment.

By having just one account, Blizzard assumes that players will try their best not to be flagged for unruly behavior or receive bans. Dota 2 implemented a similar requirement for players to register a valid phone number to prevent Smurfing or having multiple accounts to avoid bans and play with low-ranked players.

Audio Transcription & FTUE

Blizzard will have a system that transcribes the voice chat of reported players.

Blizzard will also implement a system that records and transcribes player voice chat audio.

According to the developer, "audio transcriptions allow us to collect a temporary voice chat recording of a reported player and automatically transcribe it through text to speech programs."

Players are encouraged to report disruptive behavior to the devs as soon as they encounter it in the game.

Along with audio transcriptions, Blizzard will remove the general (global) chat feature. The general chat feature is where frequent disruptive behavior occurs and it “doesn’t serve a productive purpose” according to the game developer.

Overwatch 2 will also be introducing a First Time User Experience (FTUE) for players with new accounts. The FTUE aims to introduce players to the different game modes in OW2 and also gradually unlock heroes over the course of 100 matches. The restrictions do not apply when a new player plays with a group.

The FTUE will also serve as a barrier for previously banned players who are creating new accounts to continue playing Overwatch 2. For more information on the Defense Matrix, you can check out the full blog here.

It looks like OW2 is all systems go for its release on October 4, 2022.

Darryl Lara

Darryl has been gaming since the early 90s, loves to read books and watch TV. He spends his free time outside of gaming and books by riding his motorcycle and taking photographs. You can find Darryl on Instagram. Check him out on Steam and Xbox too.
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