Absolutely nothing. That is what Microsoft accomplished with the reputation system since the Xbox One released in November 2013. All players score is currently “Good Player” and not a single infraction has been logged in the five months since launch. This will, supposedly, change as Microsoft begins sending notices and prescribes “punishments” for players who fall into the “Avoid Me” category. Will any of this deter bad behavior?
“It won’t penalize you for bad reports over a few weeks of play.”
A few weeks is a significant amount of time. Does this mean that a player can be a menace to society for a couple weeks, good for a week and back to bad habits and they won’t have their rating negatively impacted? Players interact with approximately five others per match and conduct multiple matches throughout a single night of online play. This provides hundreds of people for a bad gamer to impact through a few weeks. Online gaming is definitely a “one bad apple ruins the whole match” experience and these inconsiderate Johnny Appleseeds have the ability to ruin entire fields of encounters.
If people behaved and spoke to each other in the same manner inconsiderate players do through Xbox One, they could be sued for slander or thrown in jail for assault. Freedom of speech doesn’t imbue people with the right to intentionally threaten, insult or degrade another person. In society, if you cross the line once it is possible to have serious ramifications and punishments placed on you immediately. For the reputation system to be successful, Microsoft must be willing to do the same.
“The more hours you play fairly online…the better your reputation.”
It takes hours to create a good reputation but weeks to have a bad? This mentality allows players who are destructive online to continue a cycle of negative habits. Climbing out of an “Avoid Me” score needs to take time, longer than it took to earn a bad reputation, for there to be any true impact. Players need to feel the burden of their actions if they are going to be rehabilitated. Microsoft also needs to be transparent with how players earn reputation for it to be effective. If a player can earn “Good Player” standing quickly, then maybe players who are truly polite and respectful will only want to play with gamers who earned a maxed out green bar.
“Penalties…reduced matchmaking pairings and may be unable to use certain privileges”
The ‘punishments’ are weak and have no commitment to them. If Microsoft truly intends to treat the reputation system as something that matters, it needs harsher penalties. “Reduced pairings” doesn’t mean anything to me without context. I believe that “Good Players” should be paired exclusively with “Good Players” and “Avoid Me” with their own kind. If someone who is in “Avoid Me ” searches for a match and only “Good Players” are on the server…then there is no one for them to play with. I understand that people pay for Xbox One and feel they have a right to behave how they want, but if you are a loud obnoxious jerk on an airplane, they kick you out.
Microsoft is rolling out the reputation system to make people feel better about the state of interactions on Xbox One. Also, note that the messaging constantly says Xbox One only. None of these enhancements to the community will impact the 80 million Xbox 360 users. This system will probably accomplish very little, and even when people are marked “Avoid Me” they will be allowed to continue playing. In order to be successful Microsoft must have the guts to stand by their convictions:
- Ban players who misbehave. Start with small times such as 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour and progress to a lifetime ban.
- Pair like players together. The matchmaking algorithms should put gamers who have a 100% satisfaction with others who meet the same criteria and work down till the worst of the worst are together.
- Transparency. The current release doesn’t say what the results are for one infraction, how many hours are required to improve rating, if people can set matchmaking to auto-avoid negative players or how this will experience gameplay.
If the reputation system still manages to improve the perception of Xbox Live, even if it doesn’t do anything, expect to see a similar program on PSN in the coming months. Until then, try to be good for goodness sake.
Level Up, Friends!
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!