Picture the scene. You've played an absolute blinder in a multiplayer match, bringing your A-game and dominating all comers. But just before your moment of triumph, your opponent decides to quit or turn off their console, leaving you cussing madly with nothing to show for your efforts, and rendering the victory meaningless. We've all been there.
Xbox One's reputation system promised to punish these cowardly wretches with more than a slap on the ratio, and we're starting to see this in action courtesy of Killer Instinct, which now throws serial quitters into virtual jail. In effect, it makes them sit on the naughty step. If Microsoft's game plan remains unchanged from statements made last year, this is just the opening salvo of a concerted camapaign against griefers, quitters and the worst of the gaming community.
Killer Instinct's latest patch introduces the 'Jail' system, which removes players who repeatedly quit from the general multiplayer population for 24 hours. Once the disconnect percentage hits 15% over the course of ten matches, a player is sent to the gaming equivalent of purgatory, only capable of matching other quitters for the duration, branded by an embarrassing profile icon. Each successive period of 'Jail' time increases the sentence to a maximum of five days.
Here are the relevant patch notes, in case you're interested:
- The first time your disconnect percentage goes above 15 percent you go to JAIL
- A 10 match minimum is required
- JAIL lasts for 24 hours. During this time you can only be matched against other JAIL members
- Each time you go to JAIL the amount of time increases by 24 hours (capped at 5 days - 120 hrs)
- While in JAIL your profile icon will be automatically changed to a custom JAIL icon to let you know you are in JAIL
- When your JAIL time is up, you go back into the public again (even if your disconnect percentage is back over 15%)
- However, when back in public, if you disconnect and you are still above 15 percentage you go directly back to JAIL
- For any match that sends you to JAIL, player will take a loss
It's an intriguing system, doubly so since Microsoft promised that the new Xbox Live reputation system would offer similar functionality across multiple titles. Back in July 2013, senior product manager Mike Lavin suggested that players who were repeatedly caught griefing or quitting would effectively be corralled together as standard. "What we’re looking at doing is creating a very robust system around reputation and match-making," he said. "If people are in your friends list, we’re not touching that, we’re just making it easier for you to come together. It’s really the anonymous side of things where we’re making these investments. Ultimately if there’s a few per cent of our population that are causing the rest of the population to have a miserable time, we should be able to identify those folks.”
"You'll start to see some effects if you continue to play bad or, or harass other people en masse. You'll probably end up starting to play more with other people that are more similar to you," he glibly added, presumably twirling a moustache in a playfully sinister manner.
It's a neat idea in theory, but this functionality hasn't been particularly noticeable thus far, beyond game-specific auto muting for players who are consitently silenced by their peers. Personally, I feel that it's nice to see the more aggravating element getting a taste of their own medicine, but this system will need a light yet firm touch to ensure that occasional disconnects - especially in the case of games like Battlefield 4 - don't end up unfairly branding perfectly sportsmanlike players.
The Xbox 360's reputation was quickly revealed as a laughing stock, so we reckon that there's serious room for improvement, and for detoxifying what can sometimes be an unpleasant ecosystem thanks to an annoying minority. Auto muting and 'jail' sentences are a good start.
Would you like Microsoft to take tougher steps against griefers and quitters? What would you like to see punished, and how? Or, perhaps, should we just accept that a small minority can be faced up against without needing a big brother to fight our battles for us? Let us know in the comments.