The start of the Role Queue era in Overwatch has been met with positivity from the game’s community, but with its introduction has come a wave of cheaters and boosters that threaten to ruin the experience for other players.
Thankfully, Blizzard is working hard to stamp out cheating from the Overwatch competitive scene, and South Korea’s own legal standards effectively force Blizzard’s hand when it comes to dealer with cheaters.
Leading in to the end of season 17 and shortly before the start of the Role Queue beta — which is now live ahead of season 18 — Blizzard banned more than 1600 accounts in South Korea, naming and shaming the full list on their official Overwatch forums.
Given the nature of professional and competitive gaming in the country — and the fact South Korea acts as such an important part of the Overwatch competitive scene — it’s unsurprising that Blizzard has gone to great lengths to ban so many accounts.
Further, South Korea has even criminalised the act of cheating and boosting in competitive multiplayer games, given how engrained the scene is in the country’s culture, and how much money is involved. Get caught, and you could find yourself slapped with a heavy fine, or perhaps even end up in jail.
An Overwatch insider by the name of Naeri on Twitter revealed that Blizzard had banned a staggering 1,618 accounts, specifically for sharing, during Season 17.
Essentially, account sharing constitutes boosting, as it means multiple players have different skill sets are accessing and using the account. Every tagged account that was banned was then listed on the Korean Overwatch forum.
This isn’t the only mass-banning we’ve seen: Blizzard banned a staggering 22,000+ accounts in South Korea back in January 2018 for a similar indiscretion.
Earlier this year, Blizzard revealed plans to introduce anti-cheating measures to the game. Speaking in a developer update, Overwatch game director, Jeff Kaplan, detailed how the Blizzard team has implemented an “improved detection for cheating” in Overwatch, and that it was currently being put through its paces on the PC PTR.
“We will automatically shut down a match where we detect cheating is happening and we will make sure nobody on either side of the match is penalized for that match being shut down,” Kaplan said.
It’s an interesting and certainly most-necessary approach to cheaters, with the community growing increasingly frustrated at the (seemingly) lack of consequence for players cheating in competitive matches.
Most cheaters take advantage of tools such as Aimbots to nail headshots from pretty much any location and under any scenario, making it increasingly difficult for other players to be effective during a match.
The anti-cheat measure has been used and tested on the PTR recently, and the Overwatchcommunity has been shared images and thoughts as to how the system work.
As you can see in the above image, a pop-up appears telling players in the match that cheating was detected, that the cheater has been banned, and that the ban has effectively ended in a draw with no win or loss marked against your record.
“We think this is the next evolution of cheat detection in the game,” Kaplan said.
Currently, the only way a player can counter perceived cheaters in a match is by reporting them using the in-game “report” system. On console this is rather difficult, as the time taken to actually type out and detail why you’re making the report, makes it difficult for there to be any real hope for consequence or investigation.
Kaplan detailed that the update will be available “in the coming weeks”, although it’s difficult to tell if he meant that for the PTR, or for the live servers. Given these developer updates are likely recorded days or potentially even weeks before they’re released, and given the anti-cheat measures are already on the PTR, we can assume that’s what he was talking about.