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Zarhym explains Blizzard's player monitoring systems


Senior Community Rep Zarhym has taken to the forums to wax lyrical about the ways Blizzard monitors player behavior in WoW. He's responding specifically to player concerns about the reporting system, and how it doesn't allow a specific option to report griefers who do things like start an encounter in the Raid Finder and then leave. The OP asserts that this indicates that Blizzard just doesn't care about this sort of behavior.

Zarhym steps in to clarify that, firstly, Blizzard definitely cares about that sort of action. They care so much, in fact, that since Wrath of the Lich King, when the Dungeon Finder first appeared, Blizzard has had, and augmented, a system to monitor exactly that sort of behavior. Of course, as with any system designed to automatically punish players, which could potentially be gamed, they can't go into great detail about the workings of the system itself. But what it essentially does is monitor vote-kicks initiated, vote-kicks received, early departures and the like, and penalizes the player with more onerous deserter debuffs and such. Hit the break for Zarhym's post in full.


So I was in a LFR (yeah shoot me please) waiting for a tank on Dark Animus. A dps gets all upset because the queue is taking awhile and decides to shoot the 1 hp boss starter, leave group and make everyone wipe.

Naturally since I am stupid and naive I think Blizz would want to know something about that to stop that person from doing it again since it's one person basically being a jerk to 24 of their paying customers. You'd think they'd want to know so they could do something easy to stop that person from doing it again or at least make them think twice about it. All they'd have to do is stop that person from doing LFR for a month for example and word would quickly get around.

But lo and behold, there is no way to report a person for that anymore. It's not one of the choices for writing a ticket. The only way to report a person is by right-clicking their name, but he left the group so there is no way to right click his name. PLUS, if you could right click his name there is nothing for reporting something like this anyway. Even though this behaviour is kind of common (now I know why it's common).

Isn't this griefing? Isn't this part of the EULA? The only assumption I can make is Blizz is ok with this, they've certainly guaranteed no one will suffer for it.

So go at it jerks, you've found your game.

The reality is that it's exceedingly difficult -- and not very sustainable -- to try and micro-manage player behavior to the level you want, Allnepthys. Our Customer Support reps do not exist to police morals or, as you suggest, deny people access to content for long periods of time because they can be mean and cause others inconvenience.

Is what that player did cool? Absolutely not. It's a crappy thing to do to a group and it's happened to me.

So what we've done is developed a hidden system that tracks player behavior in matchmade groups on a number of different levels. We don't go into a lot of details about the system for a few reasons: A) we've been constantly evolving how intelligent the system is, B) the system is dynamic so that it can apply penalties based on varying factors -- it's analyzing trends as they change over time and accounting for them in some fashion -- and C) we don't want players to know exactly how the system starts penalizing people for less-than-average behavior and then try to game it.

Suffice it to say, the things you do in a matchmade group matter. If you're above the average in kicking players out of groups, being kicked from groups, or ducking out early (as described in the OP), deserter debuffs, kicking thresholds, and the like become increasingly less forgiving.

As for handing out suspensions or blocking people from matchmaking content for any lengths of time, that's a very different discussion. But the policies and procedures we have in place are considered with extreme care. We want to create the best and most fair environment possible in World of Warcraft, so friends and strangers alike can have a good time. And, as mentioned above, we try to put checks and balances into our game systems to ensure bad behavior isn't rewarded, and becomes very inconvenient for the instigator.

This is a social game and millions of people are playing. It just isn't feasible to expect us to have the personnel to judge every instance of player disruption and dole out whatever punishment the reporting player feels is warranted.

Note: Nowhere in my post did I say being a jerk is okay! I'm not sure how you were misled into believing that's Blizzard's stance based on the situation you laid out, Allnepthys.

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