Microsoft planning big change to Xbox Live's reputation system

Abuse of Xbox Live's reputation system is causing grief for innocent gamers, but Microsoft is working on a potential fix.

If you've spent any serious time playing online with Xbox Live, you'll be aware of the service's reputation system. In a nutshell, the system lets others know who is okay and who to avoid by assigning each player a score based on reports from other players. Unfortunately, this system can also be abused to exclude innocent competitive gamers as well.

This problem has come to light recently in Overwatch, where top-ranked competitive players are finding themselves banned from participating in online matches. The cause? Other players have started blocking them in hopes that they wouldn't have to match up with them again. As a result, competitive players saw their reputations drop to "Needs Work" and eventually "Avoid Me," which prevents them from playing online at all.

In a response to a lengthy thread on the topic on the Overwatch forums, Xbox VP Mike Ybarra chimed in to detail a change Microsoft is working to implement in order to, at least partially, negate the issue:

Later this month we're going to make a change to help here. Based on feedback from a number of people across a few competitive games, such as Overwatch, we're going to change how reports of players impact the ability for people to play multiplayer in games. In short, we'll change it so that it will have no impact on a player's ability to join and play multiplayer. It could still impact a reported players (this takes many reports over time, not just a few) ability to communicate with non-friends in multiplayer games, but it won't prevent them from playing.

That's great news for not only Overwatch players, but competitive gamers in other games as well. Outright bans will still be used in certain instances, Microsoft confirmed to The Verge, but it seems like they will likely be limited to players participating in more nefarious activity.