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Blizz still evaluating afk reporting feature

In patch 2.2, Blizzard introduced a reporting system to help players tackle the issue of teammates going AFK in battlegrounds, especially Alterac Valley. While this was a good start, it has several major flaws, and players have been worrying that the system may not see any improvements.

Fortunately, Nethaera has confirmed that in fact, Blizzard is studying the performance of the new reporting feature very closely. So far, the system has not been operating consistently, and the issue continues to be evaluated. With any luck, we'll see some changes soon.

What exactly are the current limitations and problems with the reporting feature? Here is a quick summary:
  1. A reported player is merely unable to gain honor, and not removed from the battleground itself. This is meant to deter players from willfully entering AV with the sole intent of going AFK and gaining honor without doing any work. Unfortunately, any players who end up AFK, whether on purpose or not, stay in the game. The remaining team members are still short-handed.
  2. Players need to physically report AFKers. This takes time, effort, and is considered by some an annoyance. After all, a battleground is for battling, and not for running around trying to find AFK players.
  3. Many of the AFKers are bots that can be programmed to keep the character in the battleground, by moving enough to avoid going AFK, or other such maneuvers.
Because of these issues, many players are calling on Blizzard to really crack down on AFK players in battlegrounds. Suggestions on the forums range from an immediate boot from the BG upon being reported as AFK to doling out the deserter label, preventing a player from entering a battleground for up to a week, depending on who you ask.

As you can imagine, many people strongly oppose the idea of an extended deserter label, and I can't personally see Blizzard implementing it. While it is important that we try to avoid ignoring "real life" tasks to the point that we are called upon to do them in the middle of a battleground, "real life" does happen, and it's simply more important than a battleground match.

Important phone calls, minor to severe emergencies with one's children, a parent absolutely insisting that a child do something, bathroom emergencies, a knock on the door, and other such spontaneous events hardly warrant such punishment as banishment from a battleground for hours or days. Even if the duration of the deserter effect depended on frequency of the transgression, I think the threshold to receive such a strong effect would have to be awfully high before I'd condone it. It simply isn't reasonable to punish a person for dealing with "real life" issues, say, four times a week, by saying "well now you just can't play in a battleground for a week!'

One get-around that has been suggested is that, upon an emergency, a responsible player should /afk themselves out, accepting the minor 15 minute deserter status. While this should certainly be practiced anyway, as it's only fair to your teammates, you could still forget to do so, or suffer an emergency that understandably drags you away before you type it. I don't believe one's entire day for battlegrounding should then be shot.

At the very least, I think we can all agree that having to report a player as AFK is probably redundant, and that some automatic system could be implemented so that a) players can actually play and b) all AFKers are caught. Whether the result should be a removal from combat, a boot from the battleground + deserter, an extended deserter, or some other punishment remains unclear.

Are you satisfied with the current reporting system? What changes would you have Blizzard make, if any?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, PvP, Battlegrounds

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