Microsoft explains Xbox One’s new reputation system
Courtesy Kyle Orland, ArsTechnica
On the Xbox 360, your Xbox Live reputation is a simple five-star rating that is often ignored by the community at large. On the Xbox One, though, the reputation system will get a complete overhaul that will use more detailed monitoring and reporting tools to separate antisocial players from the rest of the community.
Xbox Community Manager Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb first mentioned the reputation system overhaulduring last month’s E3. He discussed how players would be grouped into broad categories of "Good Player," "Need Improvement," or "Avoid Me" based on feedback from fellow players and from automated logging of things like "block" or "mute" actions. In a new interview with the UK’s Official Xbox Magazine, Microsoft Senior Product Manager Mike Lavin discussed the system in a little more detail.
Players who prefer to stick with a party of known people in their friends lists won’t be affected by the reputation system changes, Lavin said. Those playing with random, anonymous strangers, though, will quickly find that they are matched up with people who have similar reputation scores.
"There’ll be very good things that happen to people that just play their games and are good participants," Lavin said. "And you’ll start to see some effects if you continue to play bad, or harass other people en masse. You’ll probably end up starting to play more with other people that are more similar to you."
In other words, griefers and those who can’t seem to stop throwing around unpleasant epithets on a public chat channel will be automatically grouped together in matches where they can’t annoy those of us who are just trying to play a polite, relaxing game. The plan bears some resemblance to one used for Max Payne 3 last year, where Rockstar sequestered players using hacks in a "Cheaters Pool" populated only by other players using illegal enhancements.
The new system should help stratify groups of players who often have very different ideas of what social norms are acceptable for online gameplay. As former Xbox Live Head of Enforcement Stephen Toulouse told Ars Technica in an interview last year, "You find in the hardcore world people are more tolerant of miscreant behavior. They either are trash talkers themselves or don’t view that as necessarily against the rules, even though it is. But you start to throw in the casual gamer that plays the occasional Modern Warfare 3 match, and that population expects that there be repercussions for breaking the rules."
Players will be able to increase their reputation on Xbox One by going for long stretches without negative reports from other players, "similar to the more hours you drive without an accident, the better your driving record and insurance rates will be," as Hryb puts it. But that doesn’t mean a few errant negative reports will send your reputation tanking. "There is no way at all that a conglomerate of people can conspire to sink your Reputation on the system," Lavin said. "The way that it’s built fundamentally stops that. It’s very much over a period of time—if we see consistently that people, for instance, don’t like playing with you, that you’re consistently blocked…"
Players will also be able to increase their reputations by taking part in Microsoft’s community programs, such as Xbox Live Rewards, Lavin said. In addition, parties will be saddled with the reputation score of their lowest player in order to encourage some level of peer pressure even among friends.
Some details still have to be worked out, such as how exactly reputation levels will be displayed to other players (stars? numbers? other symbols?), and Lavin said that Microsoft is looking hard at other "industry best practices" for separating out good players from bad. Regardless of the specifics, though, it’s nice to see Microsoft taking an active interest in improving its online community management as it enters a new hardware cycle.