Smooth chat functionality and easy match-making architecture has often been one of console gaming’s most attractive features. Personally speaking, working through 3v3 games on Modern Warfare whilst talking tactics with friends and idly baiting the opposition provided some of my favourite memories from the Xbox 360’s glory days.
Unfortunately, online multiplayer also offers more stereotypical horrors for the modern gamer. We open up chat channels and our lobbies to our friends but also to less salubrious compatriots: the idly homophobic, the irritating team-mates, and those that full under the category of just too-young-to-be-an-actual-person. As I get older there seem to be more and more of the latter.
In response to this Microsoft have announced plans to restructure the reputation system for the new Xbox One, promising that they will do everything to encourage good behaviour, and ensure that good gamers – thoughtful, conscientious, respectful – will be paired with their like.
The new reputation system will not only use the 360's old five-stars based on your gamerscore achievements but add new reports and feedback to identify players that are "repeatedly disruptive" (see above for a graph showing the new 'rankings').
Speaking to the official Xbox magazine, Microsoft’s senior product manager Mike Lavin said: "There are industry best practices we've looked at, about giving kudos and props to people who behave well. We've learned from everything we've seen, and we're trying to take it to the next level.”
“So there'll be very good things that happen to people that just play their games and are good participants. And you'll start to see some effects if you continue to play bad or, or harass other people en masse. You'll probably end up starting to play more with other people that are more similar to you."
This is perhaps the sweetest part of the news, the promise that all those incorrigible, insufferable cranks and griefers will be left to play with their own kind. If there’s one truism that the internet loves it’s that ‘hell is other people’. For those that love to ram this lesson home on a daily basis I can’t imagine a more fitting punishment.