Director’s Take: Addressing Unapproved Peripherals on Consoles

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Director’s Take: Addressing Unapproved Peripherals on Consoles

Hey everyone! Senior game producer Adam Massey and lead gameplay engineer Daniel Razza here, subbing in for Aaron this week. We’re going to share some updates on fair play for console players in Overwatch 2 regarding the issue of unapproved peripherals.

What are Unapproved Peripherals?

Our goal is for Overwatch 2 to be a great experience no matter what platform you play on. The game feels best when matches are close and competitive, and everyone plays on a level playing field. To help achieve this, we’ve tailored the game experience on console by adding console-specific features such as aim assist, which helps bridge the difference in precision of aim between a mouse and a controller.

Unfortunately, some players on console have been using devices that allow them to use a mouse and keyboard while tricking the console into thinking that the inputs are coming from a controller. While some use different peripherals for accessibility purposes, some players take advantage of aim assist while using peripherals that were never intended to benefit from this feature. For our purposes, we call these devices “unapproved peripherals.”

Today, we’re going to look at how we detect the use of unapproved peripherals and the actions we’re going to take to level the playing field for all players.

Detecting Unapproved Peripherals

Figuring out which players are using unapproved peripherals has been a challenge for us to overcome. These devices are designed in such a way that consoles are unaware of them, and often have anti-detection features designed to make them even more elusive to catch. We have been carefully studying these devices to ensure we have high confidence in our ability to detect who is using them.

While we won’t go into specific detail on exactly how we detect these devices, we can say that our detection has already been in place for multiple seasons, passively gathering data for us to analyze.  Now that we have gathered the data we need, we can finally talk about how we plan to deal with the use of these unapproved peripherals.

Based on our data from the past few seasons, usage of unapproved peripherals is highly apparent in high-ranked play, typically at Grand Master or Champion rank being the highest, while usage of unapproved peripherals between Bronze and Platinum ranks was very rare. For this reason, the actions we take will be primarily targeted to help ensure fair play at higher ranks.

A quick disclaimer on users with accessibility needs: it is important to us that Overwatch 2 be accessible to as many players as possible, and we want to recognize that for a few players, the use of an unapproved peripheral may be a necessary component of their controller setup. We have done our utmost to ensure that players with accessibility needs will be less likely to trigger our detection. If a player with accessibility needs is detected, we have tailored our actions so that these players will be able to continue playing Overwatch 2.

Removing Unapproved Peripherals from Competitive Play

Starting in Season 11, players who are detected using an unapproved peripheral on a console will be actioned in two phases.

The first time a player is detected, they will be restricted from Competitive on console for one week. Players will still have access to Quick Play during this time, and if they cease using the unapproved peripheral, the restriction will eventually expire, and they will be able to resume playing Competitive.

However, if the use of the unapproved peripheral continues, not only will the player be restricted from Competitive on console, but they will be forced to play with other mouse and keyboard players when playing in Quick Play for the entire season. Additionally, these players will no longer have access to the aim-assist feature. They are welcome to continue playing Overwatch 2, but they will be playing against players who use a similar control setup to their own.

Taking Immediate Action

What about the use of unapproved peripherals before Season 11? Over the next few weeks, there will be permanent account bans against players who are the most severe abusers of unapproved peripherals. These actions will be targeted towards high-ranked players who have been reported by others and who our data clearly shows are using an unapproved peripheral. A reminder that per our Blizzard In-Game Code of Conduct, automating any facet of the game or engaging in any activity that grants an unfair advantage is considered cheating.

For console players using these unapproved peripherals who do not want their account banned, the only way to evade these bans is to cease using an unapproved peripheral right now. There will be no other warnings!

The Future of Mouse and Keyboard for Console

We recognize that many players use unapproved peripherals to enable input devices they simply prefer overall. So, we have started discussing whether we can add official mouse-and-keyboard support to consoles in a way that doesn’t give these players an unfair advantage over their controller counterparts. Right now, for Competitive, console players play in a separate pool from PC. So, in order to allow console players who would like to use a mouse and keyboard legitimately, we would make sure they would be able to play in Competitive matches only with other mouse-and-keyboard users and without the benefit of aim assist.

Final Thoughts

We are committed to making Overwatch 2 a fair game for everyone, regardless of what platform you play on or the input device you choose to use. These changes are a step in the direction of leveling the playing field for all players. We continue to evolve our detection and actions against unapproved peripherals and other means of unfair play. Keep an eye out for how our efforts are progressing in future Defense Matrix updates! Thanks for reading, and let’s make a great game.