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Xbox introduces new strike system to curtail bad behavior

Xbox introduces new strike system to curtail bad behavior


It’s eight strikes and you’re out.

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The Microsoft Xbox game logo against a green and black background.
Illustration: Alex Castro / The Verge

Today, a new strike-based enforcement program is coming to Xbox. The system is meant to clear up confusion regarding how Xbox enforces its community standards and help players keep track of enforcement actions made on their accounts.

In an interview with The Verge, Xbox player services corporate vice president Dave McCarthy explained the new enforcement system and its place in Xbox’s overall community management strategy. “This is all about player transparency,” McCarthy said. “We didn’t have a way to show our players what their standing was in our community. And this makes it completely clear.”

In the new system, if a player violates the Xbox community standards, they’ll receive a strike. The severity of the violation determines the number of strikes and the length of the punishment. If a player receives a total of eight strikes, their account will be banned from using Xbox services like voice chat or multiplayer for a year. The strike program starts today with everyone on the platform getting a clean strike-less slate.

McCarthy shared that only about 1 percent of the Xbox player base receives any kind of enforcement action and that only a third of that 1 percent goes on to receive additional enforcement actions. Without any kind of standardized program in place, McCarthy said that players would express confusion as to why some enforcements earned daylong suspensions while others would ban a player for a week or a month.

In a blog posted to Xbox Wire outlining the new enforcement system, McCarthy wrote, “This revised system gives players a better understanding of enforcement severity and the cumulative effect of multiple enforcements.”

Xbox won’t be publishing a list of infractions and their corresponding number of strikes, but the blog announcing the new program will include a graphic that will give players an idea of how the number of strikes scales with escalating behavior. You can see the graphic here.

Image: Xbox

From the graphic, players can see that profanity is one strike, hate speech nets three, and so forth. The visual also explains how appeals work with the strike system and that strikes decay. 

As with any enforcement action, players will be able to submit appeals, and upon a successful appeal, the applied strikes will be removed. Additionally, strikes don’t stay on a player’s record forever, falling off after six months.

Back in 2019, Xbox updated its community standards with rules on what kind of behavior was unacceptable as a part of an overall initiative to curtail abuse and toxicity on the platform. Last year, Xbox released its first-ever transparency report, detailing the actions it took to moderate content over a six-month period. Then, earlier this year, Xbox introduced the ability for players to record and submit voice clips for moderation. This new strike system is the latest part of this ongoing safety and inclusivity strategy.

“Our job here in managing a community where everyone feels welcome requires us to try a bunch of different tools and approaches,” McCarthy said. “I think if you’re going to have a healthy, vibrant player community, you sort of have to tackle it from all of these angles and you have to commit to regularly improving and investing in it.”

Though Xbox has introduced a wealth of new tools and programs to ensure players feel welcome and safe, one of the best tools McCarthy said is just for players themselves to get involved. 

“I’d encourage all of our players to just continue to participate in our system,” he said. “Sometimes that involves reporting behavior, even [if that] behavior isn’t directed against you. And the more we can have our community standards spread out there, the more we can help people stand up for those in our community.”