Disgruntled and frustrated players passing threatening messages to a developer is not uncommon. The act is tasteless, and extremely saddening for a game like Overwatch that has an entire development team dedicating every single day of the year for upcoming improvements and features.
Posting on the official forums, game director Jeff Kaplan reminded everyone that the team-based vibrant shooter is a major part of Blizzard. Work does not stop because “it’s five o’clock on a Friday evening” or “it’s our kid’s birthday.” Every staff member on the team loves the game and is always willing to invest additional hours if that means quicker results.
There are just over a hundred developers working on Overwatch. It is neither a small team and nor an “overtly large” team. However, it is incorrect for players to continuously criticize the studio for bad and slow management.
“We view ourselves as artists and craftspeople and we like to avoid that feeling of being ‘cogs in a large machine,'” Kaplan explained. “We like the fact that we own Overwatch together as a unified team with a shared, collective vision. There is not one person—or select people—who dictates what we do. We’re not peons of some visionary—just implementing his or her vision—and we’re certainly not beholden to any corporate ‘overlords’ telling us what we can or cannot do.”
It is because of this love for the game that Blizzard has created open communication channels with the community. The development team is always listening to feedback, be it positive or negative. While most of the community is great, there are some bad eggs as well.
“We often get personally attacked or threatened,” Kaplan revealed. “Most great developers I know just love being head’s down making or playing games. The ‘public speaking/posting’ part of the job is downright scary and intimidating. It often feels like there is no winning.”
Blizzard recently introduced severe punishments to curb the toxicity levels of the game. Anyone earning three or more seasonal bans while playing ranked games will be permanently banned from ever stepping foot inside Competitive Play again.
More than 480,000 accounts have been punished in various forms since the game was launched last year, more than 340,000 of which were a direct result of the in-game report button.