In a recent interview with Official Xbox Magazine, Microsoft’s Senior Product Manager Mike Lavin has stated that the Xbox One will feature a reputation system that will group badly behaved players together in multiplayer lobbies. The question is: will this system work?
What’s in a reputation? Currently, Xbox Live players have a reputation that is represented by a scale of five stars which ultimately means little. The worst of the worst receive bans from Xbox Live, but often we remain stuck with the negative players who have loose lips and perhaps even cheat in games. I once thought I was the only person who didn’t look forward to dealing with such behavior. Mike Lavin, however, has stated that Microsoft has taken complaints seriously and will revamp the reputation system into something that delivers results. The idea is that people who have received multiple complaints will be placed in lobbies with similar players, thus preventing decent players from enduring such ill behavior. In addition, Lavin mentioned that there will be Xbox Live rewards for players who display good behavior.
Upon first hearing about the revamped reputation system, I became concerned that a good player could be quarantined if they happen to come across people who have it out for them such as an ex-friend who is able to rally a group of people to report the player. Thankfully, Lavin responded by saying that the isolation will only occur for a particular player if he or she has received several reports over time.
It is an unfortunate fact that being able to talk to other random players was only possible for me when I first joined Xbox Live in 2007. Sadly, there has been an undeniable shift in the gaming community where homophobic and racist slurs have become the norm in a typical pre-game lobby. I am no longer able to keep my mic plugged in when playing a Call of Duty game. Also, though this topic has been discussed ad nauseam in plenty of forums, I am definitely fed up with the constant insults that I as a female gamer am subjected to. As a result of such elements, I’ve developed the habit of voluntarily isolating myself in an Xbox Live party before joining a multiplayer lobby.
Essentially, what this system provides is a chance for players to finally get a break from the constant onslaught of insults and banter. I would love to discuss game strategy with my teammates, but the harassment in games that seems inevitable has often prevented me from doing so. This revamped system has the potential to allow players to truly socialize once again. In addition, this new system provides the chance to further weed out cheaters and to allow legitimate gamers to genuinely enjoy a match on an equal footing with teammates and competitors. Most of all, given that the reputation system will now have an impact on the community, I believe it will compel more gamers to file complaints and issue bad rep reports for behavior they once thought they had no choice but to tolerate.
The best part about this system is that it isn’t aimed at stopping players from trolling others. It’s a sad fact, but I don’t think anything short of having an Xbox console permanently shut down due to a bad reputation is going to prevent certain gamers from engaging in negative behavior. Any plan with such a goal is destined to fail. Thus, it seems Microsoft has a decent grip on what will work for improving the Xbox Live experience.
In all, I am glad that this topic is being addressed by Microsoft and I believe the system they are putting in place could deliver results. Perhaps with this, hearing derogatory references to sandwiches, kitchens and parents will soon become a thing of the past.