Activision has been fighting a long fight to end disruptive and toxic behavior in online games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III. And today it announced it had updated the language for code of conduct in the game.
It also released findings from the in-game voice moderation North America beta (which is being handled by AI tech from Modulate) and the global Modern Warfare III launch. It’s the first report on toxicity from Activision Blizzard since it was acquired by Microsoft last October for $68.7 billion.
At our recent GamesBeat at The Game Awards event, Activision’s general manager of Call of Duty Johanna Fairies said she cares about the integrity of the play, the Fair Play Alliance, Ricochet anti-cheating, anti-toxicity efforts, and really “shoring that up as a 24/7/365 initiative for Activision to make sure that when people come in, no matter who you are, you’re having a positive, fair, inclusive experience.”
Code of Conduct Update
The Call of Duty Code of Conduct “Treat Everyone with Respect” pillar has been updated to better reflect the commitment to combating the use of its games to promote discrimination or violence.
The update is below:
Treat Everyone with Respect
We do not tolerate bullying or harassment, including derogatory comments based on race, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, culture, faith, mental or physical abilities, or country of origin, or the amplification of any person, agenda, or movement that promotes discrimination or violence based on the above.
All members of our community should be treated with dignity and respect.
Communication with others, whether using text or voice chat, must be free of offensive or harmful language. Hate speech and discriminatory language is offensive and unacceptable, as is harassment and threatening another player.
The updated Code of Conduct language can be found at CallofDuty.com/Values. This change will also be reflected in-game, though truncated due to character limitations, after a title update at a later date.
Activision said that prior to the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, the company introduced a new voice moderation system in North America (English only) as part of a rolling beta. When Modern Warfare III launched, the voice moderation system expanded globally (excluding Asia) and added Spanish and Portuguese moderation. English, Spanish, and Portuguese voice moderation is active worldwide, excluding Asia. Voice moderation is online in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, Modern Warfare III, and Call of Duty: Warzone.
The company said it was able to identify several trends that have helped evolve its approach and methodology on moderation during the voice moderation beta period in North America – beginning August 30, 2023 – and into the global launch of Modern Warfare III.
Voice moderation enforcement: More than two million accounts have seen in-game enforcement for disruptive voice chat, based on the Call of Duty Code of Conduct.
“For disruptive behavior found by our voice moderation, only one in five users reported the behavior, showing an unfortunate trend that players often do not report in-game instances to our Disruptive Behavior team,” Activision said. “In cases that go unreported, our voice moderation system allows us to take action against players that violate the Code of Conduct. Active reporting is still critical so that players can raise any negative situation they encounter.”
To encourage more reporting, the company rolled out messages that thank players for reporting and in the future, it is looking to provide additional feedback to players when it acts on their reports.
“Our voice moderation and reporting, combined with username and text chat moderation, provide our players with both proactive and reactive protection against disruptive behavior,” the company said.
Reduction in repeat offenders: Examining month-over-month data, Call of Duty saw an 8% reduction of repeat offenders since the rollout of in-game voice chat moderation.
Anyone detected to have violated the Code of Conduct will receive actions such as globally muting from voice and text chat and/or restricting other social features. Repeat offenders are restricted further, muting them from communication in both voice and text channels within Call of Duty HQ.
Reduction to toxic voice chat exposure: Call of Duty saw a roughly 50% reduction in players exposed to severe instances of disruptive voice chat since Modern Warfare III’s launch.
“When our voice moderation system detects a violation of the Call of Duty Code of Conduct which results in global voice chat restrictions, players are muted globally,” the company said. “Our tools will continue to evolve and expand over time, including the addition of new languages to our voice moderation system in future updates.”
Activision concluded, “Call of Duty is dedicated to combating toxicity within our games and will empower our teams to deploy and evolve our moderation technology to fight disruptive behavior, whether it be via voice or text chat. We understand this is ongoing work, but we are committed to working with our community to make sure Call of Duty is fair and fun for all.”
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