As the old saying goes: give an inch and they’ll take a mile, and now Blizzard is learning first hand how unbridled freedom isn’t always the best route for its games.
Overwatch players are taking advantage of the new Custom Game Browser, using it to remain inactive for long periods of time to farm XP.
Game director, Jeff Kaplan, isn’t impressed, and he’s pleaded with the Overwatch community not to force Blizzard to impose restrictions on the mode.
“We knew that there was the potential for this system to be exploited but we wanted to give everyone the benefit of the doubt before becoming overly restrictive with the system,” Kaplan said. “It’s very disappointing to us that players abused the system to gain experience while inactive. As some of you have noticed, Skirmish in Custom Game no longer rewards experience. Also, the AFK timer is now in place in Skirmish mode (in Custom Game only). This change is rolling out over a 24 hour period and should be live in all regions by the end of today.”
If players don’t stop attempting to exploit the system, Kaplan explains, Blizzard will be forced to remove gains from Custom Games all together.
“We are not naïve to player behavior and motivation,” he said.
Interestingly, Kaplan explained that Blizzard had an “internal escalation plan” for something like this, and that its recent efforts to curb XP farming were the “first steps on that path”.
“And in a lot of ways it really makes me sad,” he said. “The feature is so much cooler and better for everyone if we do not have to put draconic restrictions on it.”
While the first step was to turn off XP game in skirmish, Kaplan says that the “end” of the escalation plan was to remove experience gain from Custom Games all together. “I really don’t want to see us getting to that point”.
Kaplan invited the “vast majority” that are playing within the rules to report players that are creating Custom Games with the intention of remaining inactive to gain XP.
“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.”
So there you have it. Don’t take dru…I mean, don’t farm XP while inactive in Custom Games.
Seriously, though: don’t ruin it for the rest of us.