by Graham Pierrepoint
Xbox Live has been a long-standing online multiplayer videogame service – largely available for a fee – for well over a decade now, with classic gaming on the original Xbox through multiplayer classics such as Halo 2 ushering in the flexible and responsive online play brand. The look of Xbox’s dashboard operating system and its various features have seen one or two overhauls over the years, largely to pull the branding and look of Microsoft’s consoles in line with the Windows aesthetic – but one thing which has remained rather steadfast is the reputation system – the user rating feature which has often seen players banned from joining certain games for negative behavior online.
The current system allows players to rate others based on abuse, cheating, quitting early and more – all adding up to a reputation score which will let others know whether or not you play fair. On paper, it is a great premise – and one which has stood the test of time in terms of protecting gamers of all ages – but thriving online multiplayer scenes such as Overwatch have struggled with potential abuse of the system itself, which has seen some players restricted or banned altogether from Xbox Live as a result of false flags being raised against them.
Xbox’s Vice President Mike Ybarra has advised that Microsoft’s gaming empire will focus on overhauling their reputation system due to several complaints having been made about unfair restrictions – in some cases unjustified – in order for more players to be able to freely join in on multiplayer games. Full bans, however, will remain – on the communication side of things – and an action plan to prevent users from abusing the reputation services will be drafted to ensure that players are fairly ranked and rated.
It’s thought that Microsoft will continue to use their banning system to ensure that games are kept fair and that verbal abuse is eradicated as far as possible – focusing on ensuring that Xbox Live is both fun and safe for all users. The firm is also keen to crack down on users who may be using modified consoles or files in order to cheat or advance at a game ahead of other players – therefore, in a sense, with an aim to level the playing field. It’s an ambitious blueprint – but with the reputation system really showing its age, it’s time that change came for millions of players worldwide.