Microsoft planning big change to Xbox Live's reputation system

Xbox One S
Xbox One S (Image credit: Windows Central)

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.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Either you didn't read the article or you didn't read my comment. The article clearly states that reputation will not ban you from joining games in LIVE. As I stated, it should ban you from games in LIVE. Instead of putting a bandaid on it (by stopping people from communicating) they should ban the truly toxic from playing. There are more toxic things than the way people communicate on LIVE.  Try reading and comprehending before assuming someone did or didn't read the article.
  • They should also make good changes to the enforcement rules leading to bans. Just let me keep my digitals please.
  • I disagree with this. If you're toxic, you should be banned from LIVE. They just need a better way for others to report those that are truly toxic so it doesn't get used as a weapon by butt hurt noobs.
  • It's unfortunate that you can get banned for simply being too good at a game or lightheartedly joking around with someone.  Xbox Live has a very flawed and unfair reputation system
  • I never knew they banned based of of avoidances (the rep system), I thought that was based on reporting players (which still can be abused). That is really messed up. Also, banning based off of someone cursing when sending a text to their friend in a private setting is also silly. Especially when this might be two 35 year olds.