Overwatch’s endorsement system has reportedly reduced disruptive behavior by 40 percent.
The endorsement social feature simply rewards good behavior, allowing players to recognize teammates for good sportsmanship, supportive teamwork, and communication. The level system not only rewards players with loot boxes, but ensures that other players can see one’s score as well.
At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Blizzard research developer Natasha Miller said that Overwatch’s in-game positive reinforcement encourages consistent and positive play. She explained that it’s been Blizzard’s mission to highlight good teammates.
“If you’re not consistently getting endorsements, if you slip up, you’re not going to get endorsements and your level is going to slip,” Miller explained.
The endorsement level system offers a “path of redemption” for players.
Loot boxes are another incentive. This was an addition that Blizzard was hesitant to implement at first, and loot boxes are rewarded under a less predictable schedule. Additionally, players who slip up during any “randomized checks” won’t receive these awards, Miller said..
Continuing the theme of positive reinforcement, Blizzard started sending “thank you” messages to players who sent in-game reports that resulted in penalties. On the other hand, warning messages were sent out to players who received multiple verified penalties.
“We wanted to give them a chance to change their behavior after we penalized them,” Miller said.
Blizzard spoke to having done plentiful research in the form of focus groups and surveys to try to figure out how to prevent bad behaviors, rather than just waiting to punish those behaviors after the offenses have already taken place and other players have been affected. What Miller found was that many online communities don’t have effective consequences and lack general society’s standard expectations for good behavior.
“The system makes people nicer,” Miller said.