ByAna Valens, writer at
Writer and games critic. As seen at the Daily Dot, Waypoint, Kill Screen, Bitch Media, and ZEAL.
Ana Valens

Did you stumble across a post from Overwatch's Game Director, Jeff Kaplan, recently in which he condemns "using custom games to farm exp while inactive?" Chances are, if you're a good and pure Overwatch player, you're a little confused by what Kaplan means.

That's okay, though. Kaplan explains the issue in his post. According to him, shortly after the Game Browser and Custom Game features were added into Overwatch, players began using Skirmish mode in Custom Game to gain experience over time without actually playing the game. Essentially, players would just idle to level up their accounts over time.

According to PVP Live, AFK servers would allow players to spawn in the game and gain experience for simply existing. Experience, of course, provides several perks. First, level ups reward players with a loot box. AFKing for a loot box effectively rewards players for doing nothing in-game. Likewise, raised experience lets players earn a "Promotion" and portrait background with enough experience. Not to mention, once players hit Level 25, they can enter competitive mode. Because Level 25 is chosen for a very specific reason -- it's an indicator that a player understands Overwatch decently enough to compete with other players -- an AFK user's level might not necessarily reflect their knowledge of the game's mechanics.

Sounds like a big problem, right? That's why Blizzard is clamping down on idling players.

"It’s very disappointing to us that players abused the system to gain experience while inactive. As some of you have noticed, Skirmish in Custom Game no longer rewards experience. Also, the AFK timer is now in place in Skirmish mode (in Custom Game only). This change is rolling out over a 24 hour period and should be live in all regions by the end of today."

- Jeff Kaplan, Overwatch Game Director

Understandably, Kaplan is pretty upset. He's also stressed that idling isn't a grey area issue; for Blizzard, it's a "starkly black and white" concern. And that means serious punishment could be dealt to players who abuse the server browser for experience inflation.

If you create a Custom Game that in any way encourages players to gain experience while inactive, you risk having your account banned. If you join any game mode – including Custom Games – with the intent of gaining experience while being inactive, you risk having your account banned. Also, do not name your Custom Game that in anyway even implies that gaining experience while inactive is OK – please do not even do this as a joke – because you are putting yourself at risk of having your account banned.

If idling continues, Blizzard may pull the plug on gaining experience in Custom Games altogether.

Suffice to say, idling in Overwatch is pretty serious stuff. How does the community feel? Mixed. While many players were glad to see that Blizzard was taking active steps to stem AFKers, others were unconvinced that the problem was serious.

"90% of 'afk exp farming servers'

were with people who actively played the game, [I don't] think i ever encounter [sic] a server where more than 3 people were afking for more than 5min," one user said. "anyway [I don't] think anyone should be banned for this, as skirmish was created to do whatever you want you could afk and go make a tea/sandwich in 15min then get back."

Others are enjoying the schadenfreude.

"Outstanding," another user wrote. "Perhaps they'll even nullify their ill-gotten XP. Setting them back to level 1 and taking their cosmetics would be good too."

It seems everyone's perspective comes down to whether they were hanging out in AFK servers or not. Either way, it's good to see Overwatch won't be plagued with idling AFKers for long. Or at least, one hopes they won't.

Do you agree with Kaplan's assessment of the AFK experience problem? Share your point of view in the comments below.

Source: PvP Live

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