Player Behavior Design Values: Reform

By Socrates

TLDR: Meaningful feedback can result in reform rates as high as 70% when the feedback loop is short. We designed ranked restrictions with penalties for negative behavior tailored to the motives of ranked players and with less time between the triggering behavior and the feedback.

“In our first player behavior design blog, we explored why there isn’t a silver bullet to solving negative behavior in online games. Reform is critical to our design philosophy because less than 1% of players are persistently negative enough to trigger a major punishment such as a 14-day ban or permanent ban.

Reform becomes increasingly likely the shorter the feedback loop (the time between the negative behavior and receiving feedback that the behavior was not acceptable). With ranked restrictions, a player who behaves negatively enough in a game receives feedback the same day the negative behavior was detected. If ranked restrictions are issued, that player can't enter ranked until they win a certain number of games in a lower-stakes queue (Normal Draft for most regions).

Some of you already know him, but Socrates is a designer who worked on ranked restrictions here to go a little deeper into the system, and explore why this particular design works so well.”


Ranked Restrictions

Feedback is critical, but as we mentioned, it has to be the right feedback delivered in a way that is meaningful to the person receiving it. For example, ranked players have different motivations from players who stick to non-ranked modes.

  • Skill improvement and ladder progress -- Playing to get better at the game and have fun climbing ranks
  • Serious competition -- Playing ranked because it is the most competitive mode where everyone has opted in to trying their hardest to win
  • Social comparison -- Playing to compare rank to other players
  • Rewards and tangible accomplishments -- Playing to earn rewards at the end of the ranked season

Before ranked restrictions, we weren’t giving the hyper-competitive solo-queue player the right type of feedback at the right time and they might play through any number of warnings or punishments up until his inevitable permaban. By locking these players out of ranked queue, we throw up a barrier between them and what they are most motivated by. To take the barrier down, they have to improve their behavior to be more in line with what the community expects, reinforcing positive behaviors and promoting reform.

With ranked restrictions, we used an advanced machine-learning model to instantly recognize negative behaviors the community rejects. Through end-of-game reports, honors and historical Tribunal records, we were able to analyze millions of games in order to identify negative behaviors and build a faster feedback loop.

We don’t always share numbers, but because we are only talking about ranked games (meaning all accounts are active in ranked queue and Level 30) we felt these are pretty easy to make sense of without a ton of extra context. Since introducing ranked restrictions, verbal harassment reports in ranked games dropped 18%.

After identifying some of the motivations behind ranked play and designing a system that provides meaningful penalties related to those motivations, the percentage of ranked games with moderate negativity fell 28% (from approximately 1 in 8 games to less than 1 in 10), and the percentage of ranked games with high levels of negativity (such as death threats, sexism, racism or homophobia) plummeted 47% to 0.8% of all ranked games.

Feedback is Everything

"In this blog, I re-emphasized our philosophy around reform and why we reject the notion of a silver bullet to slay negative behavior. Then Socrates explored how ranked restrictions work and why they are so effective. In the next blog, Drevarius plunges into a deeper dive on punishment, and how we approach penalizing negative behavior differently. For example, our decision to remove ranked rewards from the most negative players was in line with the motivations Socrates discussed in this blog, and represents a different approach than always resorting to the banhammer.

Thanks for reading; we’ll see you on the battlefield!"

- Lyte

4 years ago

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