The temporary voice conversations of reported players will be gathered in Overwatch 2 after its October 4 release in an effort to reduce disruptive behavior in Blizzard’s free-to-play shooter.
According to a recent article on the Blizzard website, after a voice recording has been transcribed using a speech-to-text tool, the tape will be automatically deleted. The transcript will then be reviewed by Blizzard’s “chat review tools” to determine whether or not the player in question has participated in disruptive behavior. After 30 days, the text file will be deleted as well.
Because “we do not preserve voice chat data long term,” Blizzard explains, “this system relies on players reporting disruptive behavior as soon as they encounter it in-game.” To help us detect, catch, and deter disruptive players, please report their actions as they occur in-game. Player reports are taken seriously, as they are one of the most efficient ways to spot and address problematic behavior in a timely manner.
Blizzard refers to this method, which involves using D.Va’s shield, as Defense Matrix. It’s a network of anti-cheat tools and support staff for Overwatch 2 players. Blizzard explained in a blog post that the increased player population that may emerge from making Overwatch free-to-play prompted the creation of a more robust suite of technologies to track player actions.
The shooter’s early access debut hasn’t been without its share of complications, despite Overwatch 2’s kinetic energy in the review phase. Both the free and paid battle passes have been detailed, as well as the changes that Blizzard is making to the competitive mode. Finally, we have a useful piece of advice for those who wish to unlock all of Overwatch 2’s heroes on launch day, October 4 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Overwatch 2 records voice communication; why?
Blizzard Entertainment, the game’s creator, wrote a lengthy blog post outlining its new anti-toxicity and anti-cheat tactics before the release of Overwatch 2. The program, dubbed Defense Matrix, seeks to reduce the number of hostile gamers that Overwatch 2 users encounter. Many of its systems, such as the reporting structure and the Endorsements initiative, are expansions of those found in the original game.
Fans have been divided about Defense Matrix’s practices, especially those who learned about the company through clickbait headlines and incomplete facts shared on social media. Audio recording and transcription technology developed by Blizzard makes use of machine learning to aid in the banning of disruptive gamers. There’s been a lot of muddled thinking regarding the recordings on the internet, so we’re delving into their nature and function to clear things up.
Find out more about how Blizzard records voice conversation in Overwatch 2 below.
Blizzard reveals how Overwatch 2’s Defense Matrix will collect audio transcriptions of in-game dialogue in tandem with reports soon after the game’s release in a blog post. When a player reports another for disruptive or abusive voice chat in-game, they will also submit a brief clip of the reported player’s in-game team voice chat to Blizzard for review. After being received, it is converted into text mechanically, which helps to eliminate human prejudice. The original audio file is removed after the text transcription is complete.
Machine learning algorithms examine the transcript to determine if any disruptive or offensive language was used. Previous applications of these techniques have included the detection of abusive in-game text chat and other problematic player conduct. They decide if the player in question warrants a warning, a strike, or a suspension based on the information provided in the report. A decision and the accompanying text file are kept for no more than a month before being discarded.
Principal designer Scott Mercer and lead software engineer Bill Warnecke revealed this during a press Q&A with Blizzard. They said that the process is fully automated except for when a human needs to step in since the machine can’t make a judgment on its own. Also, they mentioned that the algorithm is context-aware, so it can tell the difference between a player using an obscenity in a celebratory setting and a disparaging context, such as when directed at a teammate. In order to prevent any unjustified reporting or banning, the program searches for the latter.
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This audio transcription does not include groups, as both Mercer and Warnecke have mentioned. When chatting with pals in-game, you may be candid without worrying about being recorded. Using an external chatting service like Discord means that Blizzard cannot listen in on your conversations. As the two devs emphasized, player reports are still a vital resource for taking disciplinary action like strikes and bans.
For what reason is Blizzard taking these steps?
To put it simply, Blizzard is employing tools like brief audio recordings and other reporting mechanisms to guarantee that the Overwatch 2 community is a safe and welcoming place for all players. Neither an algorithm nor a terrible person with a mustache in Blizzard’s security department is monitoring your private conversations with other players in order to find reasons to strike or ban them. The development team is currently focused on making sure everyone has a positive and secure experience, but it remains to be seen how the system evolves and whether it makes a difference in the number of bans (and false bans) issued.
Blizzard is significantly raising the stakes for potential cheaters and disruptors with the introduction of the SMS Protect requirement. Since each phone number can only ever be linked to one account, it will be far more difficult for those who use foul language in voice chat and are banned to regain access to their account. Neither can a player simply hop in their car and head to the nearest prepaid phone vendor to rejoin the fray. (If you don’t believe this, you’ve clearly never heard of players who erased their data and purchased several copies of a $60 game in order to circumvent bans.)
Especially in light of recent claims leveled against Activision Blizzard, it’s natural to wonder what happens to your recorded conversations and other personal information when you play their games. However, it appears that the technology is currently being used exclusively for positive community purposes. If you have questions or reservations about the usage of audio recordings, you should first go to Blizzard’s Terms of Service.
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