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OverwatchMar 26, 2018 9:00 am CT

New Avoid as Teammate feature hits Overwatch PTR for testing

Blizzard is introducing a new feature, Avoid as Teammate, as a way to help players shape their teams in Overwatch. In a new Developer Update video, Game Director Jeff Kaplan explains how it all works. The feature was implemented to help deal with players whom you may want to avoid for reasons other than the usual options you’d normally report someone for. Of course, the option can also be used to deal with a problematic player that’s also been reported. If you choose that option, however, you should make sure you’re reporting that player as well.

Using the Avoid as Teammate feature will essentially do exactly what it says. The game will avoid grouping you with that person for seven days. Note that the game will avoid putting them on your team — you might still see them in the opposing team’s lineup. After seven days, they’ll drop off your list. You can re-add them if you like, but fair warning — you only have two slots to work with. In other words, you can only Avoid two players at a time in any given week. You can manually add and remove those players as you see fit, but you’re only allowed two at a time.

Why only two slots? Well…that’s a little tricky. At the moment, the feature is being tested — and as Kaplan explains, using the feature may, in some circumstances, lengthen your queue time. It’s unlikely, but it could potentially happen, particularly at higher skill tiers. Blizzard is actively monitoring the situation, however, and exploring the possibility of opening up more slots to players in the future.

But really, their reasoning makes perfect sense. The more people you avoid, the smaller the pool of players the game can logically group you with. If that pool gets too small, you’ll run into exceptionally long queue times — and waiting around for the perfect group isn’t exactly fun. Of course, making your own group to queue with will avoid that scenario.

Kaplan also goes on to address the other side of that issue. Sure, you can only avoid two people at a time. But there’s no limit to the number of people that could be avoiding you. What happens in that circumstance?

In that case, you could also be looking at long queue times. However, the game lets you know by giving you a warning when you when you log in. It isn’t that the game can’t find you a match to play, Kaplan points out — it’s that the game is having a difficult time finding you a team to play with. If you create your own group to queue with, the issue should be resolved. But hey — if there are a lot of people avoiding you as a teammate, you might want to think about why it’s happening.

The Avoid as Teammate feature is currently available for testing on the Overwatch PTR.

Additional updates

In addition to the Developer Update video, Overwatch Developer Scott Mercer hopped on the forums to address some other changes coming to the Player Report tool. Blizzard has seen an increase in the use of the feature, which is great. But the clarity of those reports could stand some improvement, so there are some category changes on the way.

Originally Posted by Scott Mercer (Official Post)

With the release of Patch 1.22, I wanted to talk about the new and updated tools that can help players create a better and more positive gameplay experience. Before diving into those details, I first need to thank everyone who has been helping us identify toxic behavior. We have seen a steady increase in usage of the Player Report tool, and these additional reports allow us to identify and action toxic players more quickly and at a higher accuracy. Players have also been reaching out via social media with reports and videos of blatant toxicity, and we have investigated each of them and taken appropriate action. The best way for everyone to continue helping us combat toxicity is simple: just use the Player Report tool whenever you encounter bad behavior and give an accurate and detailed report.

To help with the accuracy and clarity of reports, we are making a couple changes to the player report categories you can choose. The first change is renaming the “Griefing” category to “Gameplay Sabotage”. Griefing is a very broad term used in many different ways amongst the community. The intent of the category is to be used when a player disrupts the game or harasses other players through the use of normal gameplay mechanics. A clear example of this is Symmetra teleporter exits being placed at the side of cliffs so teammates immediately drop to their death. Another example is players intentionally allowing themselves to be eliminated by the enemy team. This is often referred by the community as “feeding” or “inting”.

It is NOT gameplay sabotage if a player simply makes a mistake or has a poor match. Everyone does that from time to time, even the very best professionals in the world. Players can also have a rough match without a lot of mistakes, simply because the other team is making better plays and performing well. For a player to be reported for Gameplay Sabotage, they must intentionally be trying to disrupt and harass their teammates or actively trying to lose. Note that playing a non-meta Hero does not mean someone is taking part in Gameplay Sabotage. Players who are trying hard to help their team to win should not be reported, regardless of the hero they choose.

The other change we’re making to the player reporting categories is removing the “Poor Teamwork” category. Many players were using this category in a very similar fashion to the “Griefing” category, because both categories could be interpreted very broadly to include diverse types of bad behavior. This made it more difficult for us to action players appropriately.

The addition of the “Avoid as Teammate” option also gives players another way to improve their gameplay experience online. If you use the “Avoid as Teammate” option on a player, that action is will be effective in the next match. The matchmaker will no longer place you on a team with the avoided player for one week. Sometimes you don’t want to play with someone as a teammate because you disagree with their playstyle or hero choice. Sometimes your personalities or communication style simply clash. These can happen without either party being toxic.

The use of Avoid as Teammates does NOT take the place of reporting someone for things like Abusive Chat, Inactivity, or Gameplay Sabotage. If you ever encounter a player being toxic, please take the time to report them for that behavior. It truly helps us make playing Overwatch a more positive experience.

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