As Overwatch’s place in the competitive scene grows, so too does its share of players abusing and manipulating their way to the top. Whether it’s gaming MMR or boosting Skill Rating, some players would rather cheat their way to more CP than earn it through legitimate competition. Blizzard has been responsive in addressing these problems by increasing penalties, adding better tools for reporting offenders, and developing strategies that prevent the abuse from happening altogether. Players have welcomed the changes, and Blizzard has welcomed suggestions to refine their approach. Unfortunately, the community’s reaction hasn’t been quite as unanimous with regards to Blizzard’s stance on leavers.
In a post on the official forum, Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan made some players salty when he shared his feelings on the problem:
"Our philosophy has been that we would rather not have leavers playing the game at all (especially in Competitive Play). We keep increasing the penalty for leaving and will continue to do so."
Some have pushed back, suggesting it’s unfair to punish players for something that could be outside their control. Well, guess what? They’re wrong.
The leaver problem in Overwatch is an interesting one, because unlike boosting or throwing, leaving isn’t necessarily malicious or intentional. Sure, some players are rage quitting or trolling and deserve to be punished, but when players are disconnected through no fault of their own, it can seem unfair to lump that person in with the rest. However, this ignores the bigger problem of dropping out of the game – how it screws over everybody else.
"When someone leaves, Overwatch is less fun to play for everyone." -- Scott Mercer, Principal Designer
See, you don’t have to be participating in bad behavior to be a bad teammate. Whether you leave intentionally or not, it still affects your team and the match as a whole in the same way. Overwatch is a team game first and foremost, and being an unreliable player in a team game is just as damaging as an abuser or manipulator. Those penalties leveled against leavers aren’t just to punish the player – it’s to insulate other players from them.
In another thread, Kaplan discussed this issue with PSN player World_War_Kush, upset over being temporarily banned for chronic disconnection:
We're really sorry you had a bad experience due to a disconnect … Unfortunately, we're in a really tricky spot with Competitive Play in regards to players leaving matches … There is no reliable way that we can discern if you disconnected because of a connection issue, or you forced a disconnect. Because of that, we need to treat anyone who leaves a match in the same way.
No need to apologize, Jeff.
While Kaplan argues that they have to treat all disconnects the same because they can’t discern between an intentional or unintentional one, the truth is really that it doesn’t matter. The outcome is the same, and the damage is done. When a player drops out of a match, their entire team suffers. Punishing players who are responsible for that – for any reason – is better for everybody else.
The pushback against these policies underscores a big problem not just in Competitive Overwatch, but team gaming as a whole: selfish teammates. It takes a particularly narcissistic player to assume that they deserve to play competitively on a team, even if their connection is unstable and could cost a victory – not to mention SR – of five other players. The type of player that puts their own desires ahead of the needs of their team don’t deserve to be playing a team game in the first place, and Blizzard doesn’t owe it to them to screw everybody else over in the process.
I think Wraith-12206 said it best:
"If your internet isn't reliable, you shouldn't be playing comp."
So, to Blizzard and their continued efforts to stamp out this issue, I say good luck. Until then, stick with players you know and trust. Assemble a team of people you can count on, and don’t tolerate the self-serving players that care more about their own rankings than supporting their team. And if you are one of those players, get your shit together or stick to Quick Play. You shouldn’t be playing Comp.