The release Overwatch 2 is just a week away, but before we return to the world created by Blizzard, let's take a look at the next system coming to the game. We're talking about recording the speech of each player, which can help catch toxic behavior. The question is: isn't it the system itself that is toxic in this case?
War on bad words
Information about the new system can be found on Blizzard's website. The mechanism will be introduced shortly after the game's release, and will record the conversations of all players and convert them to text form.. Once toxic behavior is reported by another user, the recorded conversation - the subject of the case - will be analyzed in depth.
"This system relies on players reporting disruptive behavior as soon as they encounter it in game because we do not store voice chat data long term. This means you should report disruptive behavior as it’s occurring in-game to give us the best chance at detecting, catching, and preventing disruptive players. Your reports matter—player reporting is one of the most effective methods for identifying and actioning disruptive behavior as quickly as possible," reads Blizzard's official website.
Blizzard stresses that voice chat recordings will be deleted soon after their transcript is created, and the latter will be stored on servers for up to 30 days after recording.
Mandatory SMS verification
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the controversy. With the release of Overwatch 2 the company will also implement an "SMS Protect" system to help verify ownership of each user's Battle.net account. Players will thus be forced to link their phone number into their Battle.net account in order to play Overwatch 2 on PC and consoles. We will only use one phone number once - it will not be possible to assign it to multiple accounts. We also won't use prepaid or VOIP (internet telephony) phones.
Another step toward dystopia?
The giant's intention is to make it harder for banned players to get back into the game, and to prevent account hacking. However, the prospect of ubiquitous machines listening to and reviewing voice chat may raise privacy concerns. This is not the first such case in the gaming industry - a similar "voice rating" system has been tested since July 2022 in Valorant. Also in the first Overwatch Blizzard tried many techniques to combat bad player behavior. These include automatically stopping matches when a cheat is detected..
Overwatch 2 will be released on October 4 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X and Nintendo Switch. The title will be a F2P FPS. You can find a summary of the most important information in the recent summary on our website.