Since Blizzard rolled out with their new “endorsement” system the other day, it’s become a hotly debated topic on the Overwatch subreddit. Many players have described their games as being populated with people expressing “fake niceness” in an attempt to max out their endorsement level. Reddit user r/TrumpImpeachedAugust created a thread to offer his thoughts on this development. He argues that while this new friendlier social environment may not be genuine kindness, it’s a step in the right direction for improving the game’s community. Many other Redditors also expressed similar sentiments. TThor noted the following: “…behavior tends to be learnt through repetition and association; If they keep acting nice, even for selfish reasons, and associating that behavior with positive things (such as getting endorsed), eventually they will just start acting nice out of instinct, regardless of benefit.”
In another highly upvoted thread, r/TheCheckdown compares the endorsement system to real life social interactions. He argues that much like in the real world, we don’t always have to be nice to one another, however we may end up being better rewarded by doing so. The top comment in that thread is from r/matthileo who concludes that the endorsement system is fulfilling its purpose – it wasn’t meant to fix toxic people, it simply just had to make the atmosphere less toxic.
If the Overwatch subreddit consensus is anything like the general one, it seems like Blizzard’s endorsement system is working. As I alluded to before, I wasn’t sure if mere badges or loading screen flairs would be enough of a reward to make people want to behave nice. To tell you the truth, I’m not sold yet on its current effectiveness. I wonder if what we’re seeing now is merely a quick reaction to something new, as opposed to something that is representative of concrete progress. Who’s to say that a month from now after all of these fake nice people have received their momentary rewards, they go back to being the same old toxic players they were before?
I still stand by my first reaction to the “endorsement” update – a deeper progression system with scaling rewards might be the best way to incentivize long term good behavior. Who knows though, maybe a badge is enough to make people want to show better sportsmanship? We’ll revisit this topic again later to remeasure how effective Blizzard’s endorsement strategy is in the long run.
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