Skip to main content

Microsoft's Xbox One reputation system is built to make trolls play with trolls

Microsoft's Xbox One reputation system is built to make trolls play with trolls

Share this story

Do you get consistently blocked on Xbox Live, or possibly send intimate photographs to random strangers? You may soon find yourself getting some very Sartrean just deserts. In a May interview just published by The Official Xbox Magazine, Microsoft senior product manager Mike Lavin has laid out some details on a new reputation system that will debut on the upcoming Xbox One. "There'll be very good things that happen to people that just play their games and are good participants," said Lavin. "And 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."

The program, which will replace the Xbox 360's starring tool, is based not purely on user-created ratings. It takes into account factors like when you're blocked by a user, how often people mute you, and whether moderators have taken action against you. Reputation scores are meant to be public, so people will be able to see if a user has an extremely low "avoid me" rating, and the idea is that eventually, trolls will end up playing with other trolls. This has been discussed before. Back in June, Major Nelson wrote that "we'll keep the good friendly players together with other good friendly people, and keep a seat for the bad apples in their own special place." And similar systems have been tried elsewhere, albeit not for a network as big as Xbox Live.

"We'll... keep a seat for the bad apples in their own special place."

In his interview, Lavin denied that the "avoid me" rating was creating a special Xbox hell. "Some people might like to play with people that are similar to them," he said. "I would not necessarily want to play with those folks." He also tried to defuse what seems, offhand, like the most likely option: that trolls will exploit the system themselves to attack people they don't like. "Let's just be clear, there is no way at all that a conglomerate of people can conspire to sink your Reputation on the system," he said. That's partially because it's adjusted over time, meant to stop flash harassment mobs. Lavin and Xbox Live's Chad Gibson have previously said that the system will do things like make sure you've actually played a game with someone if you complain about their in-game behavior. If you haven't, your report won't count for nearly as much.

But "if we see consistently that people, for instance, don't like playing with you, that you're consistently blocked, that you're the subject of enforcement actions because you're sending naked pictures of yourself to people that don't want naked pictures of you... Blatant things like that have the ability to quickly reduce your Reputation score." Microsoft is also keeping an eye out for opportunities to promote its services. Players' reputation will grow over time if they don't accrue complaints, but Lavin said it might also include things like participating in Xbox Live Rewards, which incentivizes renewing your Xbox Live Gold membership, buying games on the Xbox Live Marketplace, or referring friends.