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Over 350,000 ‘Call of Duty’ players banned as part of anti-toxicity scheme

An anti-toxicity progress report published on Call of Duty’s blog has revealed over 350,000 accounts have been banned over the past 12 months as part of a project to combat racism and harassment.

Call of Duty is clearly not messing around when it comes to reducing toxicity and creating a positive gaming experience, with a hefty ban list to prove their genuine efforts. The company’s blog has released an update on the Call of Duty anti-toxicity progress report, with their most notable achievement being the banning of over 350,000 accounts for “racist names or toxic behaviour”.

This figure spans accounts on Call of Duty: Warzone, Black Ops Cold War, Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Mobile, so it might actually be less significant than it initially sounds, when considering the huge total number of players. It’s also a somewhat temporary fix, with players often able to return under a different name.

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Image: Call of Duty: Warzone | Activision

The developers of the best-selling franchise have acknowledged that “addressing toxicity is not simple and requires sustained efforts”, listing the banning of accounts as just one step in their anti-toxicity program over the last year. Additional measures have included in-game filters to catch possibly offensive names, tags or profiles, new technology to filter text chat, and the implementation of filters across 11 languages.

The blog post makes it clear that there is still much to be done, including making improvements to player reporting and moderator privileges, and finding a way to address toxicity in voice chats. The end goal is for Activision to “give players the tools needed to manage their own gameplay experience, combined with an enforcement approach that addresses hate speech, racism, sexism and harassment”. 

The ‘Call of Duty staff’ have pledged to continue increasing their efforts in several areas, including detection and enforcement resources, monitoring and backend technology, reviews of enforcement policies, and community communication. Reducing toxic gameplay behaviours is clearly going to be a massive, ongoing task, and the developers are not trying to hide that.

“We know we have a long way to go to reach our goals, they wrote. “This is just the start.”

“Addressing this is an ongoing commitment that we will not waver from. We look forward to making progress on this front and coming together with you to share in the fun and joy of playing together.” 

Toxic cultures are often the norm in competitive online games, with first-person shooter games like Call of Duty being particularly prone to racism and harassment, so Activision and the various companies involved in the franchise’s development have their work cut out for them.

While other issues such as widespread hacking have yet to be addressed – as made perfectly clear in player reactions to the toxicity bans on Twitter (they are calling for a fix to their own problems) – it’s hard to complain about the prioritisation of anti-toxicity measures. An ‘anti-cheat progress report’ has also recently been posted by Activision, noting the ban of over 475,000 Warzone players, so evidently they are working on various issues plaguing the games.

Call of Duty is still a long way off freeing itself from toxic behaviours, hate speech and harassment, and realistically it will never be entirely extinct, but it’s great to see developers holding themselves accountable and working towards real change.