Blizzard Entertainment released an extensive set of new custom game tools for Overwatch last week and it didn’t take long for players to start exploiting that new feature. Shortly after Overwatch’s Game Browser went live, players started using custom game rules to quickly (or idly) earn experience and thus earn more of the game’s precious lootboxes.
Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan sounds none too pleased that players are taking advantage of the system, based on a very disappointed-sounding post on the Battle.net forums.
“When we introduced the Game Browser and new Custom Game features we were excited to allow players to earn experience playing the game in unique and different ways,” Kaplan wrote. “We also knew that there was the potential for this system to be exploited but we wanted to give everyone the benefit of the doubt before becoming overly restrictive with the system. It’s very disappointing to us that players abused the system to gain experience while inactive.”
Blizzard is putting measures in place to curb experience farming. The developer has implemented the AFK timer and removed experience gains in Skirmish mode in custom games. And not only is Blizzard going to take disciplinary action against players who do abuse the system — that means a possible ban — but Jeff Kaplan is going to be personally disappointed in anyone who does.
“I’ve seen some discussion in the community and in the press on this topic and sometimes it gets talked about as if it is a grey area. Is this wrong or is this ok?” Kaplan said. “Well, let me take a grey area and make it starkly black and white for you. Abusing and exploiting Custom Game or any other game mode to earn experience in Overwatch while inactive is NOT ok. The reason I want to be absolutely clear about this is because we are going to start to take disciplinary action against people who partake in these activities. If you create a Custom Game that in any way encourages players to gain experience while inactive, you risk having your account banned. If you join any game mode – including Custom Games – with the intent of gaining experience while being inactive, you risk having your account banned. Also, do not name your Custom Game that in anyway even implies that gaining experience while inactive is OK – please do not even do this as a joke – because you are putting yourself at risk of having your account banned.
“We are not naïve to player behavior and motivation. When we put this feature live, we had an internal escalation plan for how to combat this behavior. Today marks the first steps on that path. And in a lot of ways it really makes me sad. The feature is so much cooler and better for everyone if we do not have to put draconic restrictions on it. To fast forward a bit, the end of the escalation plan will result in experience gain being turned off in Custom Game. I really don’t want to see us getting to that point.”
Kaplan wraps up his letter to the Overwatch community by asking players both to treat the request to stop XP farming seriously and to report players who do using in-game tools.