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Overwatch 2 Defense Matrix Activated - Protecting Gameplay Integrity

Overwatch 2 launches free-to-play next week and Blizzard has shared some information regarding improving and maintaining the gameplay experience.
Overwatch 2 Defense Matrix Activated - Protecting Gameplay Integrity

A game going to free-to-play is always going to have issues with player toxicity and cheaters. Not having to pay for an account often incentives players to be more toxic or to use cheats more since there are far fewer repercussions since you have easier access to multiple accounts.

Blizzard has dubbed the project Defense Matrix Initiative and has set out 3 main goals for this initiative. 

  • ‘Define, develop and nurture programs that will ensure a positive experience for all players.’

  • ‘Ensure competitive integrity at every level of play by rapidly identifying and eliminating cheaters and disruptive players.’

  • ‘Create a safer community both in and out of the game by embracing a firm stance against disruptive gameplay and enabling players who are both positive and constructive to be the leading voices in the community.’

Below we'll cover everything else in the project and what you can expect going into Overwatch 2.

Defense Matrix - SMS Protect

With the launch of Overwatch 2 on the 4th of October, all players will need to have their battle.net accounts linked to a phone number. This change is intended to improve the security of all accounts, making it easier to combat and keep away cheaters and toxic players, and can help verify your account in case it becomes comprised.

To limit the number of disruptive players, a phone number can not be used for multiple accounts. Even certain types of numbers, including pre-paid and VOIP, are not applicable for SMS Protect.

SMS Protect applies to all players, including those who own the previous box version of the original Overwatch.

Note: There have been reports of players already needing to link their phone numbers to accounts.

Defense Matrix - Systems Design

Overwatch 2 Art
Overwatch 2 launches free-to-play on the 4th of October (Picture: Activision Blizzard)

Through reviews of in-game systems, blizzard noticed improvement is needed before the launch of Overwatch 2 and for the weeks after. 

Machine learning and audio transcriptions

Blizzard is expanding on their current machine learning to include audio transcriptions in the weeks following Overwatch 2’s release. This is intended to reduce behavior that dampens the in-game experience. 

Audio transcriptions collect a temporary voice recording of any reported player and allow them to see it in text format. From there automated chat review tools analyze the behavior and determine if action is required. Once the audio recording becomes text is swiftly deleted and the text file follows in the next 30 days. 

Keep in mind, this system is not automatic and is reliant on players themselves to report disruptive behavior for the system to kick into gear

First-time user experience

Intended for players making an account post Overwatch 2 launch. Oftentimes, new players become overwhelmed with all the information surrounding them, and Overwatch is no exception. As a result, the First Time User Experience (FTUE) will only give access to a limited number of game modes, heroes, and other restrictions.

Phase one allows players to unlock all game modes and the ability to chat in the game. Phase two allows players to unlock all of the original Overwatch heroes. Phase two should take approximately 100 games. 

FTUE restrictions, for the most part, are lifted while in a group, allowing new players to team up with their friends. Competitive mode is the only exception to this rule.

Blizzard has changed their requirements to enter Competitive modes. Player levels are removed, and instead, players are required to win 50 Quick Play matches. It gives new players a chance to gain a grip of the game and does not lessen the veteran player’s experience either.

Another idea is to discourage disruptive players and cheaters since you need to invest time to unlock all the game's features. 

Players with accounts made on or after the 4th of October release will be affected by this change. Should you have played prior or own the Watchpoint Pack, the FTUE does not apply to you. 

Overwatch 2
Overwatch 2 is just around the corner for everyone to play. (Picture: Activision Blizzard)


Endorsement categories have been reduced from three to one and players can only endorse teammates. The change is intended to recognize players who are positive within the community and will award Battle Pass experience to players with high endorsement levels.

Pre-Competitive match screen

Competitive skill tiers will longer be displayed before each competitive match. Players can utilize customizable name cards and titles to display instead. The reason for this change is players would often make judgments on how the game will progress before it had even begun, as such lowering the experience for everyone involved.

Ping System

Overwatch 2 gives players the ability to communicate with their teammates without voice chat. This change helps with additional information such as where enemies are and gives a space for players to communicate with teammates without having to be in voice chat.

General Chat

General chat is being removed in Overwatch 2 since it has a high amount of disruptive behavior and thus lacks a positive purpose in Overwatch 2. All other chats remain.

There is your update on what Blizzard is bringing to Overwatch 2 on release. All information is pulled from the Overwatch 2 official website

For more on the game, check our section dedicated to Overwatch 2 news, guides, and features.

Featured image courtesy of Activision Blizzard