The old adage “you’re only cheating yourself” is nice, but it doesn’t quite capture the level of frustration FPS players feel when they’re mowed down by opponents using an aim-assist tool. This is why Blizzard, in an announcement from Community Manager Lylirra, will be enforcing a strict no cheating policy upon the release of Overwatch.  From the announcement:

“If a player is found to be cheating—or using hacks, bots, or third-party software that provides any sort of unfair advantage—that player will be permanently banned from the game. Full stop.”

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Blizzard will also be allowing the community to report cheating as they observe it in games by sending an email to hacks@blizzard.com. Blizzard will review and investigate these reports to confirm cheating has actually taken place. Supposedly this worked very well during the beta, and they used submittals to improve the game and ban unlawful players.

Getting out ahead of any cheating with a statement like this is a smart move on Blizzard’s part. By actively fostering a competitive culture that’s so staunchly opposed to cheating, Blizzard will help Overwatch naturally evolve into a fair and balanced competitive experience for players at all levels, and — more likely than not —  a legitimate esports title.

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Enforcing a no-questions-asked cheating policy won’t be without its own set of particular challenges. Blizzard will have to remain astutely vigilant about clearly defining behavior that qualifies as cheating. Additionally, their community managers and engineers are going to have to spend a lot of time scrubbing through game logs and replay footage to verify claims. That said, Blizzard has proven highly adept at identifying cheating and tool use in the past, so there’s a very good chance they’ll have the bandwidth necessary to effectively police the Overwatch experience to the extent they are promising.

In the end, Lylirra’s comments this morning bode incredibly well for the Overwatch community. Blizzard’s community team’s prudence in this matter is respectable and this new set of policies should make playing Overwatch on May 24 fun for all parties involved. Except, of course, for compulsive cheaters.

Matthew Hadick