Since Valorant launched back in 2020, developer Riot Games has made a concerted effort to promote positive player interactions, and curb the toxicity which continues to plague parts of its player base. Following the implementation of a muted words list at the beginning of Episode 4, Act 1, the studio has now published a longer report into the broader measures it has already been taking against toxicity taking place over comms and their results, while outlining its plans going forward.
Spearheading this new blog post are social and player dynamics team members Sara ‘Riot necrotix’ Dadafshar and Brian ‘Riot South Korea’ Chang, who say that over 400,000 text and voice chat restrictions were dished out to unruly players in January alone. This is the result of player reports and improvements to Riot’s detection systems which have been made possible by the muted words list.
Meanwhile, January saw over 40,000 players banned for toxic comms. However, the devs admit that the work undertaken so far is “at best, foundational”, and the ban numbers aren’t necessarily indicative of an overall reduction in toxicity. In fact, the pair reveal that players surveyed by Riot have not reported a meaningful reduction in the rate at which they encounter harassment.
So where does Riot go from here? Well, according to the devs, the studio has a lot in the pipeline for 2022 and beyond.
Alongside implementing harsher punishments for existing systems, Riot is also looking into real-time text moderation which could see abusive players punished with greater immediacy, as well as improvements to its voice moderation system. The studio is also set to beta launch its voice evaluation system, which will provide penalised players with clear evidence of their voice comms violations, in North America later this year.
Perhaps the most dramatic measure being explored comes through the ‘Regional Test Pilot Program’ currently being undertaken by Riot’s Turkish team. By the looks of things, reports will be sent directly through to ‘player support agents’, who will then dole out the appropriate punishment based on “established guidelines”. The pilot is very much in its fledgling stages, but could eventually be trialled in other regions should it show promise.
While toxicity will never truly go away, it’s clear that Riot remains committed to tackling it. The devs make it clear throughout the blog that the studio intends to be more transparent with its community when it comes to these issues, so we’ll be sure to hear more on its progress as time goes on.