UPDATE 17th August 2017: Following the publication of this article and a request for comment by Eurogamer, Blizzard responded with the statement below:
"We remain committed to bringing a reporting system to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. As console players ourselves, we know it's been frustrating to not have this functionality on your platform.
"We are actively working on the feature and have many elements of undergoing internal testing. Our goal is to implement similar reporting options as are currently available on PC, along with any improvements made to PC between now and when it's available."
ORIGINAL STORY 16th August 2017: It's no secret the gaming community is rife with trolls. In most games, on most platforms, someone somewhere wants to ruin the game for everyone else. Blizzard's Overwatch is no exception.
Since its launch in May last year, Overwatch has suffered from those who wish to exploit the game. Whether it's because of smurfs, experience farming, abusive language or match throwing, Overwatch can be a frustrating game to play. Lucky there's the handy 'report' button, right? Well, no, not for console players there isn't.
From the get-go, PC users have been able to report other Overwatch players who breached Blizzard's Code of Conduct. Issues mentioned in the Code of Conduct include players using "language that could be offensive or vulgar to others", and partaking in "behaviour that intentionally detracts from others' enjoyment (such as griefing, throwing, feeding, etc.)". These rules apply to all platforms but the problem is, while PC users can simply right-click a player to report them, console users have no such option.
Before the game's launch last year, Blizzard hammered home its "play nice; play fair" rule and encouraged players to report cheaters but again, console users do not have this option unless they go online and fill out a hacker report form.
"If a player is found to be cheating-or using hacks, bots, or third-party software that provides any sort of unfair advantage, that player will be permanently banned from the game. Full stop," Blizzard's community manager Lylirra wrote on Battle.net. "Not only does cheating undermine the spirit of fair play that all of our products are based on, but it works to diminish the fun and enjoyment of others. While we are unlikely to publicly acknowledge when accounts are closed as a result of cheating or using unauthorised programs, we have and will continue to monitor Overwatch for exploitative behaviour, as well as take action as needed to preserve the integrity of game."
Previously, Overwatch on console had an "Avoid Player" button, however it was removed due to players avoiding those who were good at the game. Now the opposite "Prefer Player" button is being used by trolls to keep annoying certain players.
Recently, Overwatch has cracked down again on players who cheat and troll. Automated penalty systems are now in place for competitive leavers, but some players have worked out they can just keep leaving and joining in an attempt to throw a match, without receiving a penalty. Couple this with the mountain of trolling videos online and you can see there is a real issue.
(You can see an example of the classic Mei troll, from YouTuber franc7s, in the video below.)
As an Overwatch fan - and a console scrub - this issue has been at the forefront of many games I've played. Just last week I rage quit the game after having a couple of particularly frustrating days.
I wanted to enjoy some of the new competitive Lúcioball, as part of the Summer Games, but it was ruined by players standing in the corner doing nothing or scoring own goals in an attempt to annoy everyone else. When I played competitive, I had at least one player quit out of half the placement matches I played when the match wasn't going their way. When people weren't quitting they were refusing to leave the spawning area, in an attempt to farm experience, or trying to throw the game altogether. When none of this was happening, I had kids screaming in my ears because, of course, it's the summer holidays and I play console. And I could do nothing.
For my other half, a PC gamer, the solution to issues like these is simple: report the player (except the screaming kids). For myself, the solution is a bit more difficult. There are four options:
- Mute the player to stop hearing their spew of rubbish (best for kids).
- Block the player through PlayStation or Xbox (doesn't necessarily mean you won't be paired with them again).
- Report an Xbox player using their gamertag via the console dashboard (you can't do this on PS4).
- Ignore them.
It's certainly not ideal - and I'm not the only one who is becoming agitated.
One of many examples is that of redditor destinypainter, who found themselves plagued by a player who ranked up to Diamond in order to throw games for higher ranked players, all while playing automated messages inspired by the movie series Saw.
There are heaps of complaints, on a lot of different sites dating back to the game's launch, pleading with Blizzard to implement a report button for console users. Finally it seemed Lord Kaplan heard our prayer.
In January, Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan announced the team behind Overwatch was working on a report button for console.
"This feature is coming to both PS4 and Xbox," wrote Kaplan on Battle.net. "I don't have an exact ETA because there are many moving parts to make this happen. My hope is that everything locks into place before summer... or sooner. But we're at the mercy of things beyond our control on this one and we've been working super hard to make it happen."
It's seven months later and there's still no sign of a report button. In July, Kaplan updated players on why there had been such a delay, revealing the system of a report button is "extremely challenging from a technical standpoint because it goes beyond a simple change to the Overwatch game client". This is potentially due to the console reports having to filter through Sony and Microsoft before they reach Blizzard themselves, unlike with PC where the server connects straight to Blizzard.
The latest update we had was from Blizzard community manager Lylirra, who last month stated "internal testing is currently taking place" - but there is still no timeframe. (Eurogamer has contacted Blizzard for comment.)
The sooner the report button arrives on console the better. As an Overwatch console player, I'm finding the worst part of the community is affecting my enjoyment of the game.