Xbox has announced a new enforcement strike system for punishing unacceptable conduct from players, and it’s... not simple.
In the system — which, according to Dave McCarthy, corporate vice president for Xbox player services, is “similar to demerit strikes used in driver’s license systems in many countries” — players will receive strikes that vary in number according to the severity of their offence. In the examples given by Xbox, profanity would get one strike, bullying or harassment two strikes, and hate speech three strikes.
Strikes received will trigger suspensions from Xbox’s online services — multiplayer, messaging, parties and party chat, and so on. These, too, will scale, up to the maximum of eight strikes. If a player receives two strikes, they’ll be suspended for a day; four strikes will lead to a seven-day suspension; eight will see them suspended for a whole year. Strikes stay on players’ records for six months.
While suspended, players can continue to use their Xbox consoles and services to play single-player titles, although McCarthy notes that in the case of very serious violations, including illegal activity, Xbox retains the right to implement a total ban — including access to purchased games.
The system seems quite complex, and doesn’t appear very severe; it would take a pretty determined and persistent offender to rack up enough strikes within six months to earn a one-year suspension. But Xbox says it has two aims: firstly, to make it clearer to affected players how the enforcements work, and how to get their accounts back into good standing; and secondly, to educate players well enough about the consequences of their actions that they learn better behavior and don’t become repeat offenders in the first place.
“This system gives players a better understanding of enforcement severity and the cumulative effect of multiple enforcements,” McCarthy said, meaning no player facing a long suspension should be able to say they didn’t see it coming. “Enforcement transparency is about giving players clarity into how their behavior impacts their experience.” A key part of this transparency is a new enforcement history tracker that gives players a breakdown of the current standing of their account and how they got there.
“In 2022, fewer than 1% of all players received a temporary suspension, and only 1/3 of those received a second,” McCarthy said. “Our data shows us that players typically stop inappropriate behavior after one enforcement, quickly learning what is and is not acceptable based on the Xbox Community Standards and how to better engage on our platform.”
Will players get there quicker thanks to this new system? That may depend on how good they are at math, but here’s hoping.