Microsoft: Three-Tier System Is "Fair For Everyone"
Xbox Live program manager Michael Dunn has revealed the specifics of how the Xbox One's revamped reputation system will work. A complex algorithm will take both user reports, mutings, blockings and other factors into account, in order to bracket players into three separate categories. Good, Needs Improvement... and Avoid Me.
In contrast to the Xbox 360's practically useless setup, the new system will be carefully monitored to ensure that only the truly bad apples get slapped down. It's a big promise, but an exciting one.
"With the new community-powered reputation model for Xbox One, we want to help you avoid the players you don’t want to play with," Dunn wrote on Xbox Wire. "If you don’t want to play with cheats or jerks, you shouldn’t have to. Our new reputation model helps expose people that aren’t fun to be around and creates real consequences for trouble-makers that harass our good players."
"So, how are we doing this?" he dramatically and rhetorically posited. "We are simplifying the mechanism for Xbox One – moving from a survey option to more direct feedback, including things like “block” or “mute player” actions into the feedback model. The new model will take all of the feedback from a player’s online flow, put it in the system with a crazy algorithm we created and validated with an MSR PhD to make sure things are fair for everyone."
Your reputation score will ultimately bracket you into one of three categories: "Green = Good Player," "Yellow = Needs Improvement" or "Red = Avoid Me." This colour will be clearly displayed on your gamer card, while matchmaking will apparently corrall the Red players into the danger zone (well, that's what it should be called, at any rate). "The more hours you play online without being a jerk, the better your reputation will be; similar to the more hours you drive without an accident, the better your driving record and insurance rates will be," Dunn continued. "Most players will have good reputations and be seen as a “Good Player.” The algorithm is looking to identify players that are repeatedly disruptive on Xbox Live. We’ll identify those players with a lower reputation score and in the worse cases they will earn the “Avoid Me” reputation. Before a player ends up with the “Avoid Me” reputation level we will have sent many different alerts to the “Needs Improvement” player reminding them how their social gaming conduct is affecting lots of other gamers."
Dunn also assures us that the system isn't going to let griefers harm your reputation by slapping you with bad reports (for example, if you happened to beat them fair and square). "The algorithm is sophisticated and won’t penalize you for a few bad reports," he explained. "Even good players might receive a few player feedback reports each month and that is OK. The algorithm weighs the data collected so if a dozen people suddenly reporting a single user, the system will look at a variety of factors before docking their reputation.
"We’ll verify if those people actually played in an online game with the person reported – if not, all of those player’s feedback won’t matter as much as a single person who spent 15 minutes playing with the reported person. The system also looks at the reputation of the person reporting and the alleged offender, frequency of reports from a single user and a number of other factors."
The proof will be in the pudding, so we have some custard at the ready. This new system is definitely ambitious, but Microsoft probably has the experience and infrastructure in place to make it work. Either way, it's just lovely to see them explaining something without confusing the issue.