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Blizzard Cracks Down On Overwatch Players Who Farm XP

Illustration for article titled Blizzard Cracks Down On iOverwatch /iPlayers Who Farm XP

Jeff Kaplan sees you, Overwatch XP farmers. He sees you, and he’s pissed. Well, maybe not pissed, but unusually angry by “glittering ray of sunlight transformed into an eternally patient man” standards.

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Recently, some players have taken to creating XP farming servers in Overwatch’s new custom game browser. Basically, you join one, pick a hero, and do nothing. Eventually, the match ends, and you get free XP. You can repeat this process infinitely while, say, browsing Facebook or playing a different game or practicing your daring escape plan for when you get arrested on charges of Game Crimes.

Or at least, you could. Now I really wouldn’t recommend it. Starting today, Blizzard is taking action, and they’re not messing around. Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan explained in a forum post:

“I’ve seen some discussion in the community and in the press on this topic and sometimes it gets talked about as if it is a grey area,” he said. “Is this wrong or is this ok? Well, let me take a grey area and make it starkly black and white for you. Abusing and exploiting Custom Game or any other game mode to earn experience in Overwatch while inactive is NOT ok.”

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“The reason I want to be absolutely clear about this is because we are going to start to take disciplinary action against people who partake in these activities,” he added. “If you create a Custom Game that in any way encourages players to gain experience while inactive, you risk having your account banned. If you join any game mode–including Custom Games–with the intent of gaining experience while being inactive, you risk having your account banned. Also, do not name your Custom Game that in anyway even implies that gaining experience while inactive is OK–please do not even do this as a joke–because you are putting yourself at risk of having your account banned.”

And that’s just step one. Kaplan revealed that Blizzard figured something like this might happen, and they created an “internal escalation plan” for dealing with it. First, they’re issuing bans. They’ve also enabled an AFK timer in custom games’ skirmish mode so that players get booted if they spend too much time inactive. If, however, those measures prove inadequate, Kaplan and co will remove XP gain from custom games entirely. “To fast forward a bit, the end of the escalation plan will result in experience gain being turned off in Custom Game,” he said. “I really don’t want to see us getting to that point.”

So yeah, don’t farm XP in Overwatch! You’ll get banned and ruin custom games for everyone else. You’ll also disappoint Jeff Kaplan, you monster.

“The feature is so much cooler and better for everyone if we do not have to put draconic restrictions on it,” he said. “At this point, I am making a plea to you–the Overwatch Community at large: please decide what you want to happen here and be a part of the solution. If you enjoy Custom Games awarding experience then please help us combat the behavior we’re seeing now. Do not create Custom Games with the intent of gaining experience while inactive. Don’t join those games. Don’t jokingly put those names in your own Custom Games. And report players who are abusing the system.”

Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.

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DISCUSSION

AldoraGreel

I am 100% on the opposite end of this spectrum. Who cares if someone farms for XP in a game where it means next to nothing?

All it does is allow players to get loot boxes without buying them. Let’s be clear in that that’s the only thing Blizzard doesn’t like here. It should have no effect on anything like standings or what have you, as the match making and ranked play isn’t impacted (plus they use MMR, not account rank, anyway). This is literally just Blizzard not liking that some people aren’t buying loot boxes. Loot boxes that only give out cosmetics and have no impact on anything whatsoever.

Pro tip: a player lazy enough to do this was never going to spend money on loot boxes, anyway. Might as well ban anyone who doesn’t buy loot boxes while we’re at it. Hell, ban people who stopped playing the game. Bet Blizzard doesn’t like that, either.

I do not agree with them on this whatsoever.