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Overwatch 2 voice chat may be recorded — here’s what Blizzard’s doing with it

Defense Matrix will transcribe ‘temporary’ voice chats of reported players

Sombra opens her holographic viewing panel in Overwatch 2 Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Mike Mahardy leads game criticism and curation at Polygon as senior editor, reviews. He has been covering entertainment professionally for more than 10 years.

Overwatch 2 will collect temporary voice chats of reported players in an effort to cut down on disruptive behavior once Blizzard’s free-to-play shooter launches on Oct. 4.

As detailed in a recent Blizzard blog post, the system will use a speech-to-text tool to transcribe a voice recording, and will delete the clip once the transcription is complete. Blizzard’s “chat review tools” will then examine the transcript to deem whether a reported players has engaged in disruptive behavior. The text file will itself be erased no later than 30 days after the transcription takes place.

“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,” Blizzard said. “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.”

This practice is part of what Blizzard calls Defense Matrix (a reference to D.Va’s shield ability). It’s a collection of systems and teams meant to combat cheating and promote positive behavior in Overwatch 2. In the blog post, Blizzard cited Overwatch going free-to-play — and the larger player pool that may result from that — as the reason for developing an expanded set of tools to monitor player behavior.

Despite the propulsive energy of Overwatch 2 in the review phase, the lead-up to the shooter’s early access launch hasn’t been without its share of complexities. We’ve explained how the game’s free and premium battle passes will work, and outlined the ways in which Blizzard is overhauling its competitive mode. Lastly, we have a helpful tip for players that want access to all of Overwatch 2’s heroes at its Oct. 4 launch on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.