Playing Our Part: A Welcoming Game Community
Activision Blizzard has zero tolerance for hate or discrimination in our online communities — investments in features and initiatives to ensure a fun and safe environment
Our mission is to bring people epic joy and connection, and we’re proud that we’re serving more players than ever before and plan to keep growing our community. At the same time, bad actors and abusive behaviors across all online platforms are multiplying, and most of us who spend time in the digital space these days get the sense — or have seen for themselves — that hate, harassment, and extremism are on the rise.
We want to do our part to change that for the better. Inclusivity and safety are top priorities both in our workplace and throughout our player communities. A better, healthier, and more positive online experience matters, and it matters to the people who enjoy our games, and it aligns with our core values as a company.
In no uncertain terms, disruptive behavior online is an unacceptable problem that transcends any single industry. No person should be meant to feel unwelcome, unsafe, or targeted when they’re online – especially because of who they are, what they believe, or their background.
Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a new survey focused on harassment, hate, and exposure to extremist ideologies across the online game industry. Though the report covers the whole sector, rather than any single company, we have since been engaged with ADL’s team to discuss their findings, have an open dialogue, and share what we’ve been doing to foster a safe online community. We know this is going to be an ongoing effort and welcome collaboration with the ADL.
We also reached out because we believe our industry can benefit by engaging with experts who, like us, are working hard to build a healthier and safer online community for all.
At Activision Blizzard, we will continue to invest in healthy online communities — for our employees, for the people who play our games, and to ultimately set a better standard for the entire digital ecosystem. That’s why we have taken several proactive and essential steps to adopt technologies, apply best practices, and deploy cutting-edge tools and resources to create a better gameplay environment.
Here some examples of what we’re doing:
Activision unveiled a franchise-wide Code of Conduct for Call of Duty, focused on three core pillars: treat everyone with respect, compete with integrity, and stay vigilant. This new policy aligned with an increase in reporting and enforcement to protect a fair, fun, and safe gameplay experience for millions around the world. Players are required to acknowledge the Call of Duty Code of Conduct in order to play multiplayer modes. Blizzard’s in-game Code of Conduct has policies across communication, naming, cheating and behavior.
Following the Call of Duty Code of Conduct launch, Activision provided a progress update about our 24/7 sustained effort to combat disruptive users. As of that update, 500,000 users were banned for their conduct, and in August 2022 alone there was a greater than 55% reduction in the number of offensive username and clan tag reports compared to the previous year.
And recently, we shared more details about our improved in-game reporting system, introduced by Activision alongside Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, which provides players with more ways to report offensive behavior and new features for our moderation teams to combat disruption.
After implementing a machine learning system to help verify player reports, Blizzard has seen a drastic decrease in disruptive chat and repeat offenses in several of our game channels. The system has allowed us to issue penalties more quickly and has led to disruptive players leaving the channels more quickly. Alongside this technology, we utilize dedicated communication channels and staff to facilitate player reporting.
Blizzard utilizes a warning system in both World of Warcraft and Overwatch, which promotes behavioral improvements among players who start to exhibit disruptive behaviors. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and Warzone 2.0 also features a similar warning system and amplifies its Code of Conduct.
In World of Warcraft, players need to agree to an in-game social contract. Blizzard has also improved the reporting system in the game to expand the kinds of behaviors players can report.
Overwatch 2 has implemented and evolved a variety of features to protect gameplay and foster a positive community through its Defense Matrix initiative, including:
Blizzard created a system that encourages players to “endorse” their teammates. Players are given experience points for receiving endorsements, and the more endorsements a player receives, the better the in-game rewards they may access. Blizzard also created the Leaver Penalty system, which penalizes players who frequently leave a game while in progress—a behavior that puts every remaining teammate at a disadvantage and makes the game less enjoyable for all.
We also implemented a more refined chat filtering system. The system gives players more control over the types of words they see. Rather than a simple On/Off profanity filter, the system allows players to differentiate between three levels of chat preferences: Friendly (most restrictive), Mature and Unfiltered. It also allows players to customize the levels for the four different types of chats in the game. For example, a player can set direct messages to Friendly and team chat to Mature. Blizzard’s system gives players the ability to provide feedback on the new features.
We’ve also begun reviewing voice chat of reported players by introducing audio transcriptions. Audio transcriptions allow us to collect a temporary voice chat recording of a reported player and automatically transcribe it through speech to text programs. The text file is then analyzed for disruptive behavior by our chat review tools. Once the audio recording has been transcribed to text, it’s quickly deleted as the file’s sole purpose is to identify potentially disruptive behavior.
We share ideas, resources and best practices with the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) to be an industry-wide resource on ensuring safety and inclusion for players. Blizzard also exchanges industry best practices through our work with the Fair Play Alliance, where we have an Executive Steering Committee seat.
While this is only a snapshot of what we’re doing, we collected these updates to make sure our entire community knows where we stand — and is equally aware of the significant progress we’ve made to reduce negative experiences in today’s online world.
In the end, we at Activision Blizzard see ourselves as stewards of our online community.
Yes, we might be a really big community — with hundreds of millions of members — but those of us who create games do so because we share a fundamental aspiration: to have fun, explore creative and immersive worlds safely and without fear, and make friends along the way.
Going forward, we will continue to update you on the steps we’ve already taken (and what’s underway) to create safe game infrastructure, provide transparency, enforce safety and enforcement policies, and continue implementing robust tools and resources for players to have positive gameplay experiences.
🪖 Call of Duty: Report on combating disruptive users — over 500,000 users banned
🐲 World of Warcraft: Improved in-game reporting system coupled with machine learning allows players to take action to combat social contract violations
🛡️ Overwatch: The Defense Matrix initiative deployed features to protect players and foster a positive online community