As one of the biggest multiplayer gaming juggernauts in the world, the Call of Duty franchise has a reputation for toxic players. Activision has been trying to curb this longstanding notoriety, and recently announced that it has banned more than 350,000 accounts that displayed racist or toxic behavior over the last 12 months, whether in game chat or via their usernames and clan tags.
“We are committed to delivering a fun gameplay experience for all of our players,” said a blog post from Activision. “There’s no place for toxic behavior, hate speech or harassment of any kind in our games or our society. We are focused on making positive steps forward, and together celebrating the best fans in the world.”
They go on to acknowledge that addressing toxicity is not simple and requires ongoing efforts to hold at bay. Their efforts over the last year have included:
- Banned over 350,000 accounts for racist names or toxic behavior based on player-submitted reports and an extensive review of our player-name database
- Deployed new in-game filters to catch potentially offensive user-names, clan tags or profiles
- Implemented new technology to filter potentially offensive text chat
- Implemented filters across 11 languages
They plan to further improve and increase player reporting capabilities and moderation in addition to “addressing voice chat to help combat toxicity.”
“Our goal is 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,” Activision said of their continued efforts to combat toxic behavior among Call of Duty players. They have promised to do the following as the work continues:
- More resources to support detection and enforcement
- Additional monitoring and backend technology
- Scrubbing databases to bring systems up to current standards
- Consistent and fair review of enforcement policies
- Increased communication with the community
“We know we have a long way to go to reach our goals. This is just the start,” Activision closed their blog post. “Addressing this is an ongoing commitment that we will not waiver 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.”
Nearly a year ago, Infinity Ward committed to doing a better job combatting racism in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone. This was shortly following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police which sparked a broad critical introspection regarding racism in America (and around the world). Around this same time, Activision and Infinity Ward added Black Lives Matter messaging to Modern Warfare and Warzone, which appeared on the game’s loading screen.
Racism is far from Call of Duty’s only toxicity-related issue, however, and Activision’s recent statement appears to address everything in an even more broad context, calling out “toxic behavior, hate speech or harassment of any kind.” With over 100 million players for Warzone, there’s a lot of work to be done to curb an issue that’s plagued Call of Duty for a decade, but it appears that Activision is stepping up to the task in an effort to make Call of Duty online play more inclusive and welcoming for everyone.