In the latest patch for Overwatch, the “Avoid Player” feature has been removed. Intended to allow players to prevent abusive members of the match, what developer Blizzard found, was that the system was used to abuse good players. The recent patch has just released on PC and will be coming to consoles soon.
In the patch notes, Blizzard made it clear that the system was being used as a tool by players to avoid actual competition and not remove the rabble-rousers from player matches. It makes sense that players would try their best to stick with a system that can actually break the matchmaking in their favour. Game director Jeff Kaplan considered the system as “wreaking havoc on the matchmaking.” He also uses one of the best Widowmaker players as an example of the broken system, with the player being subject to “player avoidance”, based only on his skills.
Despite what is a fair explanation from Kaplan, the system could still have some function. The reason for the “Avoid Player” system in the first place was to make sure that toxic players would be removed from future matches. Any online game will have its share of issues with members of the community being abusive and vile but the bigger the player base, the more likely to find awful people. Knowing you will never have to deal with the cocky Reaper can give a little sense of joy moving forward. Yet if the system works to demonise genuine players instead of intended goal, then its removal is welcomed.
Considering Overwatch already has over 7 million players across all regions, it could be argued that it is highly unlikely to run into the same player again. While the “Avoid Player” system might be gone, that Report button is not going anywhere so make use of it. Avoiding a player might stop them from joining you, but Reporting a player will help keep them with the other toxins.