Blizzard announced in a February 1 update blog that it’s taking a new, more aggressive approach to Overwatch 2 cheating. The developer will no longer ban just cheaters themselves—though it boasts already wiping out “over 50,000 accounts that we found to be cheating since the launch of Overwatch 2”—but also anyone that plays with a cheater.
“We want to discourage any incentive to take advantage of cheating, including grouping up with anyone who uses cheats and hacks,” Blizzard said. “Starting in Season 3, we’ll be identifying players who willingly group up regularly with those flagged for cheating, and they will also face account action, even if they are not using cheats themselves.”
Blizzard did explain how it would identify accounts “who knowingly group up with cheaters,” but it did list out potential punishment. Typically, Blizzard says, Overwatch 2 cheaters are instantly, permanently banned, no questions asked, and no time to plead for forgiveness. But since the accounts Blizzard is now targeting aren’t perpetrators themselves, but accomplices, they will receive more leeway.
“We will be issuing severe suspensions for extended amounts of time, and in extreme cases, outright bans, to those grouping up with known cheaters,” Blizzard said. OK, so not a lot of leeway. Kotaku reached out for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.
In addition to these more exacting cheating regulations, Blizzard also writes that it will continue to crack down on in-game harassment over voice and text chat with the help of voice-to-text transcription and “AI learning algorithms.”
“We’ve begun to roll out this new technology starting in Season 2 for select regions and it’s proven to be exceptionally accurate and effective in identifying abusive chat and language,” Blizzard said. “We’ve already begun working to stop disruptive players with applicable chat silencing and account suspensions as needed.”
It also plans on removing “inappropriate” custom games, like the grotesque “sexual harassment simulator” that got taken down in January, and putting up a barrier to stream sniping (when someone watches your game stream to get insider info on how to beat you) by giving the option to hide BattleTags.
“This will prevent those who may be watching that player’s live stream from identifying if they’re in the same lobby,” Blizzard says. Players are now also able to hide or delay current queue times, and hide Replay Codes. It’s all in the name of being honest.