The first-ever Xbox transparency report reveals a surge in bot bans

Most of Microsoft's enforcement now centers around fake accounts.

Aaron Souppouris/Engadget

If you've had to deal with a rash of fake Xbox Live accounts in recent times, you're far from alone. Microsoft has published its first-ever Xbox transparency report, and it's now clear the company is banning or otherwise cracking down on bots. The company says it issued over 4.33 million "proactive enforcements" (that is, taking action without user reports) against fake and compromised accounts in the first half of 2022. That represented 57 percent of the enforcement actions over the six-month span, and a ninefold surge in the amount of proactive efforts versus the same period a year ago.

Microsoft was previously pouring most of its energy into "reactive" enforcement (responses to gamer reports), and taking fewer actions as a whole. The company issued 2.24 million reactive enforcements in the second half of 2021, and just 461,000 proactive measures. Other violations were relatively few and far between. "Adult" content led to just 199,000 proactive enforcements, while fraud, harassment and other abuses each had fewer than 100,000 actions.

It won't surprise you to hear that most of Microsoft's 33.08 million user-prompted crackdowns focused on toxic players. Enforcement was equally dominated by reports of cheating and other poor conduct (43 percent) and abusive communication (46 percent). Just 11 percent of enforcements were tied to user-made content like offensive nicknames and screenshots. Thankfully, there appear to be fewer overall incidents — Microsoft received 59.65 million reports in the last half of 2020.

Don't count on winning an appeal if you think Microsoft made a mistake. Out of more than 151,000 case appeals during the period, just six percent (about 9,250) led to reinstatements.

You can expect a new Xbox transparency report every six months from now onward. There doesn't appear to be equivalent reports for the equivalent Nintendo and Sony online services. Still, this may be good news if you've wondered about Xbox Live's problem areas, and whether or not Microsoft is taking bots seriously.