Blizzard says Overwatch and World of Warcraft toxicity has dropped thanks to machine learning

Echo poses heroically in this Overwatch screenshot.
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard's giving fans an update on its year so far, and one of the company's proudest achievements is using new tech to cut down on in-game toxicity.

Blizzard president J. Allen Brack delivered a "fireside chat" to stand in for Blizzcon, which normally happens around this time of year but was postponed and moved online due to the pandemic. He brought up the company's work on a new machine learning system that helps Blizzard more quickly verify player reports about offensive behavior and language. The system has been in place in Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm for a while.

"It allows us to issue appropriate penalties quicker, and we've seen an incredible decrease not only in toxic text chat, but an overall decrease in reoffense rates," Brack said. "A few months ago we expanded this system into World of Warcraft's public channels, and we've already seen a decrease in the time disruptive players stick around by half, and we're continuing to improve the speed and the accuracy of this system."

Blizzard also added more options for profanity filtering to Overwatch, with options to customize them on a per-channel basis. Ideal for keeping the general and team chat chaos locked down but cutting loose a bit more with your party.

"These are small steps, but they can add up to lasting change," Brack added. "Combatting offensive behavior, and encouraging inclusivity in all of our games and our workplaces will always be an ongoing effort for us. Games have been a home to many of us for many years, and they, as well as the communities surrounding them, are worth protecting."

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Connor Sheridan

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.